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A. R. F. Webber: Tobago Scholar and Caribbean Statesman1

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe2
April 26, 2009

Caribbean Visionary: A. R. F. Webber and the Making of the Guyanese Nation by Selwyn R. Cudjoe
Caribbean Visionary: A. R. F. Webber and the Making of the Guyanese Nation by Selwyn R. Cudjoe
On July 1, 1932, the Port of Spain Gazette announced the death of the Hon. Albert Forbes Raymond Webber of Guyana. It reported that J. F. Webber, Albert's brother and a resident of Trinidad, had received word that his brother had died the night before aboard a ship on the Essequibo River while he was on his way to Bartica. The report noted that "Mr. Webber was born in Tobago and partly educated there and thus his career was at all times of much interest to surviving relatives and friends of the family of this colony. Mr. Webber who was in his fifties came from influential Tobago stock, the son of J. F. Webber. He is survived by a widow, two daughters, who are married and four brothers, Messrs J. F. Webber (Trinidad), C. Webber (Trinidad), Allan Webber (Canada) and Edwin Webber (New York)." Although the newspaper went on to talk about Webber's many contributions to Guyana and the West Indies, it is clear that his work was of much interest to Tobagonians and Trinidadians.

Webber, one of our most gifted sons, was born in Scarborough in 1880. He left Tobago in 1899 to join his father, James Francis Webber and his uncles Ernest and Percival Forbes, partners in Crosby and Forbes, one of the largest gold and diamond traders in Bartica. Shortly after Webber arrived in Bartica, trouble struck when a shipment of gold from his uncles' company to London was stolen (the gold was replaced by lead) which led to the ruin of the company. This unfortunate incident resulted in Webber's retreat from the gold industry and his gradual embrace of Water Street, Georgetown, the business center of Guyana. Webber's rise in the business community was slow, painstaking, and adventurous. Having worked in the interior he knew that territory much better than many of his colleagues with whom he would serve in the Legislature but who had lived mostly in Georgetown.

Webber worked for several companies including the advertising departments of the Daily Argosy, a Guyanese newspaper, and Bookers Brothers, the largest conglomerate in the country, between 1907 and 1910. He was also a publicist for the publication of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce which he made into "an interesting industrial and trade publication." The Port of Spain Gazette noted "journalism was his first love and as director of the firm's advertising department he was afforded opportunities to pursue studies in this direction. Meanwhile he became noted for introducing striking novelties in business advertising service and was the brain behind an intensive public health advertising scheme which brought to the door of the humblest villager the virtues of domestic sanitation and the powerful part played in all schemes of communal health by personal and home cleanliness."

Water Street led Webber into an entirely new direction. With his first cousin, Everil Ross, great uncle of Filipe Noguera, the Communications Coordinator of the Fifth Summit of the Americas, Webber began to edit a literary magazine around 1910. By 1915 he had published several of his poems in the Daily Chronicle which he later included in Glints from an Anvil (1919). In 1917 he published Those That Be in Bondage, the first novel by a West Indian that explored East Indian indentureship in the Caribbean. Wilson Harris who was related to Webber by marriage (Webber's wife and Harris's mother were sisters) says of Bondage: "When one reflects on the distinguished body of writing that has come from Trinidadian-born authors, who include C. L. R. James, Alfred Mendes, Ralph de Boissiere, V. S. Naipaul, Samuel Selvon, Earl Lovelace, and others, one looks to the 'first' in such a faculty of design for seeds of impulse both ominous and instructive with the medium of the twentieth century that spans areas of colonialism and post colonialism, empires and revolutions."

In 1916 Webber offered his first economic analysis when the editor of the Daily Chronicle asked him to write an article on the rise and wane of the colony's industries. He noted that the industry brought into "bolder relief . . . the fortunes of the war between capital and labour;" saw the immigration of East Indians into the colony as leading to "the disappearance of serious labour competitors" and the increase of the "indents" as one way of preventing the "bleak days which succeeded 1807 [the year in which the British slave trade ended]."3 Webber correctly identified the central contradiction of the society as one between labour and capital and saw the resolution of this problem as one way out of the constant rise and fall of the country's economy.

In 1919 Webber became the editor of the Daily Chronicle, a position that allowed him to combine his literary talents, his economic interests, his business knowledge, and his understanding of the aspirations of the common person. In 1921 he was elected to the Guyanese Legislative Council (or the Combined Court) where he drew on his varied talents to represent the interests of the Guyanese people. He served in the Guyanese Legislative Council until his untimely death in 1932 becoming a veritable thorn in the side of the colonial establishment.

In 1926, for the first time, the Colonial Office invited West Indian leaders to London to discuss its future relations with the West Indian colonies. Webber represented Guyana and George F. Huggins represented Trinidad and Tobago. As fate would have it, this meeting took place at the same time (May 13 to June 5) the General Strike in Great Britain, led by the Miners' Federation of Great Britain (MFGB) occurred. This would turn out to be a significant occurrence in that in 1931, in his seminal essay, "I Am an Economic Heretic," Webber alluded to his conversation with Arthur Jack Cook, the national secretary of the MFGB, that led him to his conclusion about deficit spending in times of an economic downturn. One of the main issues at this conference involved the creation of a common currency… for the British West Indies and Guyana. Webber argued that any discussion in Guyana's Legislative Council about "the desirability of establishing a currency would fissile out as soon as you began it, unless there is going to be something practical put before it." True to his nationalist roots, Webber was convinced that it was only when "we have control of our own Currency Board and our own currency to guarantee them" that West Indians would be able to get the most out of their labor. He concluded: "The funds will have to be in West Indian silver. Therefore, control of the bank notes would be an integral part of our currency system, because it would be tied to our currency." Quintessential Caribbean nationalist that he was, he wanted the West Indian colonies to issue and be responsible for their own currency.

Even as Webber discussed the future of his country and the West Indies, he found time to indulge in his first love: creative writing. As a member of Guyana's delegation and a guest of His Majesty's government, Webber was granted the freedom to travel wherever he wanted in Britain. At the beginning of the conference, Lord Amery, the secretary of state, had urged the delegates "to see something of England in the springtime, a sight worth seeing, and to enjoy some of the social amenities" of the country. Webber took advantage of Lord Amery's invitation. Out of that experience he wrote An Innocent's Pilgrimage (1926) that was subtitled, "Being Pen Pictures of a Tender-foot Who Visited London for the First Time." This travelogue, one of the earliest responses of a colonized person to the mother country, suggested a literary trend that would emerge later in the century among Caribbean writers: that of the colonized person seeking to give his or her readers "a taste" of the mother country by comparing the England of their imagination with the everyday experiences of life in that country.

In An Innocent's Pilgrimage, he notes the poverty that he found in London, compared it to what he was accustomed to in Guyana, and condemns the former in the strongest possible terms. In a powerful indictment against the ill effects of British capitalism, Webber writes:
England is fearfully cruel to the poor, despite the work of all her philanthropists. In British Guiana we have our problems. The grueling poverty of many: the cruel plight of the middle classes, who must pay a rent forced upon them by the wickedness of a certain type of politician, not only to serve private ends and not that of those whose votes they beg at Election time; but, let me say it, the plight of the poor in large towns in England is sufficient to make the very heavens belch forth! The match sellers at midnight, in the bitterest cold imaginable, and those without even matches to sell!! Across all this a veil is drawn in this mighty land of pleasure . . . . I have often wondered, after experiencing the bitter coldness of a late spring, which was almost wintry in temperature, how any woman could remain virtuous who was offered a warm bed and blankets against bleak rags and sordid surroundings. Hunger is as heaven compared with the hell of cold-and when both are combined God help the victim. When the sun is up, resolve must be strong; but when the darkness of night descends, and shivering takes the place of sunshine, resolution must be a very poor substitute for roses and raptures, even if the price be chastity.
Webber's sociological insights were particularly astute. He was not a trained sociologist, did not have the benefit of a degree from Cambridge or Oxford to guide him or Henry Mayhew's studies on poverty to draw upon. Mayhew was an English journalist and sociologist who ventured into the poorest parts of London to interview pickpockets, petty criminals, and prostitutes. His ground-breaking study on the London poor was published in three volumes under the title, London Labour and the London Poor (1861). His fourth volume examined the lives of prostitutes, thieves, and beggars and influenced Christian socialists such as Thomas Hughes and Charles Kingsley. Yet Webber recognized the social dissolution that poverty had caused to those who lived in London and, by extension, other urban centers.

In 2002 Harold Perkin, an English scholar, wrote The Origins of Modern English Society, 1780-1880, in which he located the origins of modern English society in the Industrial Revolution. Perkin observed that the rapid growth of the new industrial towns and cities created new social problems that aggravated and expanded the scale of old ones such as "the chronically depressed and abandoned urban poor. Closely connected with both was the vast increase in crime and prostitution which occurred in the towns in the first half of the nineteenth century, and swelled to a new peak in every economic slump." He noted further: "Prostitution rather than crime is the traditional resort of women in desperate straits, and it is significant that the number of women committed for trial [during the first half of the nineteenth century] increased much less than that of men. Contemporaries were convinced that prostitution was a vast and wide-spread evil-the social problem,–as many of them called it–and that it was increasing, but the statistics are naturally fugitive and unreliable."

In his brief visit to London, Webber was able to put his finger on the effects of this pervasive problem. After speaking about the terrible cruelty of London and the terrible cold of the city, he says:
If I had to make a choice in those circumstances, I believe I would be profane enough to ask for a little warm hell rather than stay on such a biting cold earth without food, raiment, or shelter. These are the things which are filling England with socialists. In rural England, no one ought to be a Socialist. In British Guiana, there is presently not much need for Bolshevism. But in Urban England, industrialized to the fingertips, the strong crushing the weak, and the poor gripped in unspeakable misery, the plant must flourish.
This was Webber in 1926. Webber did not think that socialism was the ideal tool to solve Guyana's problems although Cheddi Jagan thought it the only solution to Guyana's problems. Although Webber moved closer to accepting the socialist ideal as he developed politically (I characterized him as a Fabian socialist), one wonders where he might have ended up if he hadn't died prematurely. Yet, the significant point remains: a Tobagonian, coming out of Guyana at the beginning of the last century was able to pinpoint the economic dimensions of one of the most important problems that afflicted London society. It is the kind of trajectory that Oliver Cromwell Cox, a Trinidad sociologist, would follow in his magisterial Caste, Class and Race (1942) in which he argued that one could not understand the questions of race and race relations without understanding the dynamics of capitalism as a social system and its specific history within a country.

Nineteen twenty-six ushered in a new era in Guyana politics. It was a year in which locally based, rambunctious politicians took over the leadership from the wealthy, elite, respectable "politicians" who served the interests of owners who lived abroad. It was the year in which the Popular Party, the first political party in the West Indies, was formed to mobilize Africans and Indians primarily to control their political destiny. A similar phenomenon was taking place throughout the Caribbean during the twenties. Cecilia Karch and Henderson Carter point out that during the 1920s "friendly societies, lodges and the beginning of the trade union movement laid the groundwork for mass political movements which would sweep throughout the entire Caribbean."4 During this period, political organizing reached a high level of sophistication.

Although the Popular Party was successful in the 1926 election, the colonial authorities disqualified many of its successful candidates. Only eight of its fourteen elected members were allowed to take their seats in the Legislature. On December 19, 1926, Webber wrote a stinging editorial in the New Daily Chronicle denouncing "a judicial scandal [that] has been perpetrated against the people." He also argued that the Justice who gave the judgment "outraged every canon of the judiciary and reduced the bench to the scoffs of the multitude." On January 10, 1927, the state brought contempt charges against Webber for the offending editorial. On March 16, the court found him guilty of contempt. Two years later, the colonial authorities used the same language to jail Marcus Garvey and deny him a seat in the Jamaica Legislative Council. Webber was a bit more judicious. Realizing that he had little choice, he apologized to the court and was fined L200, a large sum in those days. The court ordered that he be imprisoned if he did not pay the fine by March 31. With the support of friends, Webber paid the fine on March 23 and thereby escaped imprisonment.

In light of the victory of the Popular Party, the British changed the constitution to limit the rights of the people representatives. Under Guyana's constitution, the elected members had the final say in matters of finance. No money could be expended or taxation raised by the government unless the Legislative Council approved. The election of so many brown and black men removed such responsibilities out of white hands. This was unacceptable to London. Once more Webber crossed the Atlantic to protest the arbitrariness of British rule.

On January 24, 1927, while Webber was on his way to London, he stopped off in Port of Spain and addressed a massive meeting at the Prince's Building. Most of Trinidad's political "Who's Who," including Captain Arthur Cipriani, Dr. Tito Achong, J. Ryan, A. V. Stollmeyer, Mrs. Aubrey Jeffers, and the officers of the Trinidad Workingmen's Association, attended his lecture. Cipriani expressed Trinidad's sympathy with and support of the great constitutional fight of the Guyanese people and noted: "Irrespective of what anyone might think on the question of the change of the constitution as to how it affects British Guiana or any part of these colonies we have to stand four-square with them in any protest at what we may call big stick legislation. Big stick legislation under British rule is doomed to failure and cannot live."

Webber spoke on what he called the "physiographical drawbacks" of his country and lamented its dire stagnation and great suffering. He observed that "the problems of British Guiana and their solution were perhaps of far greater importance than were the changes in the constitution" and insisted that one could not understand Guyana's problems fully unless one understood the geography of Guyana, which he called the "physiographic." He reiterated that the static growth of the population was more important than presence of capital in the development of Guyana, a point he made previously in "The Rise and Wane of the Colony's Industries."

In London Webber urged the colonial officials to maintain the "elective principle." They barely listened. However, he took solace that he had made British Guiana as well known "as a political issue, as Kenya," and observed that it "would be a very bold governor who would venture to use his 'Reserve' power to flout the unanimous wishes of the Electives. British Guiana has now become a parliamentary issue of some importance."

Webber traveled from London to Jamaica where he was "lionized" by the members of the Legislature. He also lectured on the economic conditions of Guyana. Later that year he visited New York where he was entranced by the excitement of the city. He writes: "If London was a disappointment, New York was just a nightmare. But if England has its compensations so has greater New York. All God's beauty and man's humanity have not yet disappeared from New York. If the nightmare may be found in Manhattan, where things hum, and buildings raise their hideous crowns in defiance of God's heaven, so always may the peace that passeth all understanding be found in Brooklyn, in Queens, in Jamaica or any other suburban district of Long Island."

Webber's sociological insights into the changing nature of New York color problem were as astute as those he manifested when he discussed the role of prostitution in London. Visiting New York during the Harlem Renaissance and when "the Negro was in vogue" he writes:
I am inclined to think color lines are less rigidly drawn in New York than in either Canada or British Guiana. Of course no reference is made to the intense color lines as drawn in the Southern States. New York is, speaking on the wide and the broad, developing a wider orientation and a broader outlook. For one thing, it is the greatest Negro city in the world. Coloured persons are met every two yards in 5th Avenue, Broadway, or anywhere else. White restaurants, it is true will not serve pronouncedly Negro persons; but these ride without let or hindrance on the tram cars, on the subways, on the elevated railroads or on buses. There is no segregation in traveling in New York. A Negro may sit by the side of a white person without comment. American steamship companies sailing south or back to New York grant Negroes first class accommodation, without hesitancy; and it has been left to the Canadian Government steamships, subsidized by the Negro Governments of the West Indies, to impose a colour bar and refuse Negroes first class accommodation. As to the grades of colour as understood in this colony and the West Indies, there are none in New York: a person is either white or Negro-with this peculiarity: all West Indians are Negroes, unless they can prove themselves white; and all South Americans (including British Guiana) are white, unless some one else proves them colored! . . . On this race question New York is producing a wonderful experiment, and the other great cities in a lesser extent, in annealing all the races of the earth into one. Incidentally, it is in New York that the greater barriers of colour prejudice will yet become submerged-25, 50 or 150 years hence. At the present it is the great melting pot of the earth.
These insights anticipated the central thesis of Nathan Glazer and Patrick Moynihan's classic study Beyond the Melting Pot: The Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians and Irish of New York City.

The collapse of the US stock exchange in 1929 set off a worldwide depression from which it took the world a long time to recover. Karch and Carter noted that the depression had "serious repercussion in the West Indies culminating in strikes, riots and rebellion. In addition to the crisis in financial markets, the West Indies had equally grave problems over the export markets for their produce, whether it was bananas, sugar, cotton or cocoa. . . . [It also] exacerbated the structural unemployment problems of the West Indies."5 If things were bad in the West Indies, it was worse in Guyana. Seeing the misery and hunger that was caused by the unemployment, Webber wrote an article, "I am an Economic Heretic" in which he lambasted the government for cutting its spending in the midst of rising unemployment and misery among his people. In that one, brilliant article, Webber anticipated the central thesis of John Maynard Keynes's The General Theory on Employment, Interest and Money (1936). Webber was not an economist. I do not claim that Webber worked out the theory of employment in the way in which Keynes did through his interchange of ideas with a panoply of scholars who surrounded him at Cambridge and Oxford universities. I only argue that what this Caribbean man discerned in 1931 is a remarkable indication of the kinds of minds we, in the Caribbean, have produced.

Like Keynes, Webber wrote at a time when there was mass unemployment and suffering in his country. Contrary to the popular view, hence an economic heretic, Webber urged the government to increase its spending to deal with the economic depression that was gripping his country. In a four-decked headline, his article in the New Daily Chronicle announced:
  • I am an Economic Heretic;
  • Drastic Administration Economies [cuts] Cannot Save Us
  • [Drastic Administrative Cuts] Will Aggravate Depression and Unemployment;
  • Courageous Forward Policy Only Remedy.
By way of contrast, in his introduction to Keynes's General Theory, Paul Krugman observed that stripped down to the basics, the General Theory can be expressed in four bullet points:
  • Economies can and do suffer from an overall lack of demand, which leads to involuntary unemployment;
  • The economy's automatic tendency to correct shortfalls in demand, if it exists at all, operates slowly and painfully;
  • Government policies to increase demand, by contrast, can reduce unemployment quickly;
  • Sometimes increasing monetary supply won't be enough to persuade the private sector to spend more, and government spending must step into the breach.
Webber began "I Am an Economic Heretic" by reminding his readers that everyone in Guyana was crying: "Government expenditure must be reduced." After outlining the problems, he offered his position on economic theory: "It is generally believed that if Government were forced to reduce its expenditure, dock salaries, and dismiss a swarm of officials, the Colony would be placed upon the high road to prosperity. I do not share those views. If that be orthodox faith, then I am an economic heretic." He continues:
Drastic administrative economies, in the present state of local trade and commerce, would but aggravate the evils from which we are presently suffering. Sir Gordon Guggisberg [the governor of the colony] hit Water Street [the financial district] to the tune of $300,000 in his ill advised scheme of administrative economics. When the Government budget was reduced by that amount, it forthwith constricted the spending power of the community by that sum. Trade was depressed, and commercial employees were dismissed all round who all went to swell the ranks of the unemployed, and compete for what jobs were going with the small army of retainers who were thrown out of Government employment.
Webber also wanted to show the shortsightedness of trying to balance the budget on the backs of the workers, particularly when it resulted in greater unemployment. Like Keynes, he believed that in the long run, they would be dead. He wrote:
I shudder at the thought of some administrative wizard catching hold of the Annual Estimates, and reducing them by $750,000 per annum; since there is one item of expenditure that cannot be touched, viz., the appropriation for debt charges, which amount to some $1,200,000 per annum. It therefore means that the $750,000 would have to be saved from votes [savings] of local services. [That is,] cuts in salary here, and cuts in salary there; dismissals where the fancy speeds; reduction in services votes, such as food in hospital and prisons, fuel for railways and colonial steamers, etc. etc. But mark we, when all these drastic economies have been accomplished, not one penny of taxation will be reduced; for Government would be left with just about a balanced current budget, with nothing to pay off previous deficits.
With all of these savings, he asked, "What will be the results?" He answered:
The officials whose salaries have been reduced, or those who have been dismissed, must restrict their individual spendings accordingly. The service, food and fuel bills reduced must likewise restrict the expenditures of the contractors and purveyors everywhere. In a word, spending capacity, though I prefer to say, buying capacity, of the community would be reduced by $750,000 per annum, plus Sir Gordon Guggisberg's $300,000. Expressed in another way $1,000,000 would have been withdrawn from circulation at its source. Shops must therefore be closed and employees dismissed in keeping with the trade available.
He argued that in addition to government cutbacks or withdrawing monies from circulation, a cutback in spending by the private sector would only make matters worse:
The sugar estates have been compelled to withdraw $2,500,000 from circulation, because they are not receiving it from their sales. The slump in diamonds has withdrawn another $2,5000,000 from circulation. Rice, copra and coffee have added their withdrawals, easily amounting to another $1,000,000. I cannot therefore regard with anything but equanimity Government joining the ranks of destroyers by adding another $1,000,000 to trade restriction, without the vestige of a visible hope of taxation being reduced by an equivalent sum; or even by the paltry sum of $100,000.
According to Webber, cutbacks were not the best way to restore economic growth and take the country out of depression. He believed that policy should stimulate spending and, through it, employment. In putting forward his theory, he reminded his audience of a conversation he once had with Arthur Jack Cook of the Miners' Federation and concluded:
What is required in British Guiana is increased earning power in the community rather than restricting buying capacity. Arthur J. Cook (Emperor Cook) said to me in London, "Webber, my boy, the world is NOT suffering from over production. It is suffering from under consumption." This might sound like a foolish euphonism [sic]; but it is as sound as a bell. The present sugar situation is due to restricted consumption, dating from the shilling and pound days, which sent the stocks accumulating.
As I noted earlier, Webber was able to articulate the essence of Keynes's argument before the latter did so in his General Theory although Keynes had outlined his argument about public spending in 1929 in a pamphlet written with Hubert Henderson called, "Can Lloyd George Do It?" and in October 1932, a group of Cambridge economists, including Keynes and Arthur Pigou, wrote to the London Times to support the case for increased public spending to alleviate the economic downturn.

Even if one wishes to argue that Webber did not anticipate Keynes, he certainly was au courant with the most advanced economic arguments of his day. Ewart Williams, the governor of the Central bank of Trinidad and Tobago has written:
Webber's views on economics and economic management as they are related to his home country, British Guiana, were ahead of his time in two critical aspects, viz, anti-recession policy and currency arrangements. While he was not an economist by training his clear understanding of economic phenomena and his passion for the welfare of his people led him to propose solutions that were out of sync with the colonial policy makers but which became mainstream immediately after his death and remain relevant today.
Contrast, if you will, Webber's position with that of Sir Norman Lamont, one of the biggest planters of Trinidad and a member of the Trinidad Legislative Council, who endorsed the position of Lord Snowden (the British Chancellor of the Exchequer) and others who believed that balancing the budget was the correct way to get out of the depression. In a lecture, "The World Depression," delivered in San Fernando to the Naparima Agricultural Society on November 17, 1931, Lamont cited several factors for the depression and even chided Professor Keynes for believing that "our troubles are due to the fact that the war debts and reparations had been extracted instead of having been wiped off the slate." He went on to congratulate "the splendid courage of Mr. [Ramsay] Donald and Mr. Snowden in being the first to face the facts and to call upon the country [that is, Great Britain] to stop the rot, by endeavoring to place its financial affairs once more on a sound stable basis."6 Needless to say, Macdonald and Snowden were among those who followed the existing body of economic theory, founded by the so-called Classical economists that included Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and John Stuart Mill against whom Keynes had written his General Theory. Both were undermined by the Great Depression when they cut public spending, including unemployment benefits. Suffice to say that Webber was ahead of all his colleagues and even those who were the captains of industry.

For the record, it is interesting to record how Lamont saw Trinidad and Tobago during this financial depression. He observed: "Trinidad may be congratulated upon the way it is facing the situation, upon the way it is holding out. I see here no signs of despair. I see every sign of confidence in the future and I feel sure that the confidence is justified. There is still a great future for our colony."7 As it was then and is now, Trinidad had its oil deposits that made our path through the depression less terrible. The country even presented the mother country with a "little tip" in the sum of L25,000 pounds. After the labor riots in the West Indies, including the Butler riots, Sir Arthur Lewis observed that the one common factor that underlay all of the islands was "the principal West Indian export was on the average almost halved between 1928 and 1933, and workers were forced to submit to drastic wage cuts, increased taxation, and unemployment." But then, as Lewis notes, "Economically and politically the white man is supreme; he owns the biggest plantations, stores and banks, controlling directly or indirectly the entire economic life of the community."8 Lamont was white. He did not feel the pinch of the depression as someone as Webber had.

Webber was a major West Indian intellectual and freedom fighter. He accomplished much in his time and promoted the Caribbean ideal of service. I hope that you have a chance to read Caribbean Visionary: A. R. F. Webber and the Making of the Guyanese Nation. After reading it, I trust you will share in T. A. Marryshow's evaluation of Webber when, on hearing of his death, lamented: "Webber dead? Then the cause of West Indian freedom has lost a finished fighter. Taken all in all, he was a devoted son of Mother West India."

Webber was one of our jewels. He was one of the most illustrious sons that Tobago and the Caribbean has ever produced. I hope you allow yourself the opportunity to embrace him and what must become our cause. In the process I hope we come to share a view expressed by Alice Walker, the American novelist, when she asserted: "We are a people. A people do not throw their geniuses away. And if they are thrown away, it is our duty as artists and as witnesses for the future to collect them again for the sake of our children, and if necessary, bone by bone."

  1. A lecture delivered at the National Museum, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago under the auspices of the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago as part of its "Heritage Lecture Series-2009," March 25, 2009. []

  2. Cudjoe is a professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College and a director of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago. His most recent publication is entitled Caribbean Visionary: A. R. F. Webber and the Making of the Guyanese Nation (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2009). []

  3. Unless stated otherwise, all these quotations are taken from Caribbean Visionary. []

  4. Cecilia Karch and Henderson Carter, The Rise of the Phoenix (Kingston: Ian Randle publishers, 1977), p. 144. []

  5. The Rise of the Phoenix, p. 154 []

  6. Norman Lamont, Problems in Trinidad (Port of Spain: Yuille's Printerie, 1933), p. 264. []

  7. Ibid., p. 265. []

  8. Arthur Lewis, Labour in the West Indies (1938, Port of Spain: New Beacon, 1977), pp. 18, 11. []

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