Nothing Against Bob Dylan, but wha bout KAMAU?

Kamau Brathwaite
Posted as a comment to another blog by Caleb Pilgrim.

So far, the need to honor Professor Kamau Brathwaite cannot be reasonably or intelligently contested. What, therefore, are the options?

Rename a great Boulevard after Professor Brathwaite as Hal A. suggested.
Rename his alma mater, Harrison College, after him and in his honor. The HC Gentlemen and Gentlewomen could/should prevail upon their Governing Body, to adopt the necessary, relevant resolution to rename HC, beginning at their very next mtg.
Urge the University of the West Indies (UWI), Vice Chancellor Professor Beckles et al, to establish an endowed chair in Kamau’s honor. (Certain insurance companies – the pirates of our day, incorporated under law – in order to launder their reputations might even be encouraged to put in $2.5 m, to guarantee the Chair in Brathwaite’s honor).
Simply, have the GOB seize the property near BGI, by eminent domain, if necessary, just as the Government reportedly seized Mrs. Ram’s property, pay fair market value, and establish the Kamau Brathwaite Cultural Center forthwith.

To my mind, these are all viable options which do not require a lot of long talk. They simply require the necessary “political will”.

Re 4. e.g., any intelligent civil servant could draft and finalize a cabinet paper in a matter of hours, if not less (unless we are bent on perpetrating what Professor Blackman, I believe, once labeled “disguised unemployment”).

However, true to our traditions, ceteris paribus – you know how prolix we are, how after a couple of grogs, and ludicrous and unnecessary chatter, and a fabulous bowl of cou-cou, with salt fish gravy, with some sweet potato on the side, we tumble over like some Rip van Winkle, then sleep walk through serious issues (cf. our esteemed “Lord Nelson”).

Then, we may simply have to wait until the Resurrection. Good luck.

Submitted by DAVID  COMISSIONG, President, Clement Payne Movement (Barbados)
Kamau Brathwaite

Kamau Brathwaite

So, the American folk/rock musician , Bob Dylan, has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature — the first time that a song lyricist has won this prestigious international award !

I say well done to Bob Dylan: he is deserving of every accolade that comes his way. In fact , I am one of Dylan’s biggest fans, and regularly  gorge myself on his socially conscious, insightful and poetic compositions, ranging from the anthemic “Blowing In The Wind” of the American civil rights era, through such folk and rock classics as “The Times Are A-Changing” , “Mr Tambourine Man”, “All Along The Watch-Tower” “Like A Rolling Stone”, “Knocking On Heaven’s Door” and the list goes on and on.

But, as much as I admire and appreciate the lyrical work of Bob Dylan, I can’t help but note that it pales in significance to the tremendous body of poetry and essays of cultural scholarship that  has been produced by our very own Kamau Brathwaite over a 65 year career of ground-breaking scholarship and artistic creation.

Why hasn’t the 86 year old Kamau Brathwaite– easily the most original and creative poet of the Caribbean and wider Americas region– ever been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature?

Is it because he is too authentically Bajan, Caribbean, African? Is he too Black, too revolutionary, too un-compromising in his views and in his defense of the intrinsic validity and worth of the culture, heritage and humanity of the Bajan/Caribbean/Afro-American/African/Third World peoples?

Several years ago, the Nobel Committee found it possible to award Nobel Prizes in Literature to two English-speaking Caribbean writers– Derek Walcott and V. S. Naipaul. Of course, the latter writer– Naipaul– has devoted much of his career to extolling the alleged virtues of the English and Western European culture and to sneering at and denigrating virtually every non-White civilization, including our Caribbean civilization.

Walcott’s work, on the other hand , has valorized and found universal relevance in our (and his) Caribbean culture and civilization, but has done so without veering too far away from the standard European models, standards and approaches. Unlike Kamau Brathwaite, Walcott has not plunged into a profound exploration and validation of our Nation Language , nor into the capacity of our African based and derived folk culture to generate authentic and valid myths , legends, philosophies, historical arch-types, poetical and literary devises, deities, and creation stories. Nor, for that matter, has he been the excoriating critic of European imperialism and domination that Brathwaite has been!

Thus,so far as the European literary establishment is concerned, Walcott has in all likelihood been a safer and less dangerous cultural warrior and literary iconoclast than Kamau Brathwaite has been AND  CONTINUES  TO  BE.

And so, even though the Nobel Committee may never be able to summon up the integrity and sense of justice that will be required of them if they are to make that fateful decision to award the Nobel Prize in Literature to the profoundly deserving Kamau Brathwaite, we should not let them off so lightly by failing to publicly press the case for Kamau.

I don’t know what the procedure is for nominating a writer for the Nobel Prize, but I think that the time has come for us Caribbean people to do the necessary research and to launch a very public campaign of advocacy in pursuance of a collective people’s demand that Kamau Brathwaite be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

A Tribute to Kamau Brathwaite by David ComissiongThe Quiet Warrior


  • de pedantic Dribbler

    *+ smarty-pants…. Correction


  • de pedantic

    You are being silly. I ask a question because I do not have the answer. I do not play silly rum shop games. Never have, never will. If that is what you do, then good luck. I may sometimes THINK I have the answer, but that is not the same as HAVING the answer.
    I have not heard of an ‘official’ funeral and unlike you I am not going to speculate. If you do not know, then put your hands up and stop trying to read in to people’s minds. If you call that being smartypants, then so be it. I call such speculation folly.
    You know nothing about my experience and/or knowledge. You are speculating again. It must be a Bajan disease. Stop it. If I amaze you or not means bugger all to me.


  • hal austin
    leave dpd alone nuh
    de man is an expert at everything ting including cervical injuries, emergency postmoretems, unnecessary amputations and even homiletics and hermeneutics
    he tinks he is a psychologist too


  • Audre Lorde was born in New York City to Caribbean immigrants, HER FATHER FROM BARBADOS and her mother Grenadian from the island of Carriacou, Frederick Byron Lorde (known as Byron) and Linda Gertrude Belmar Lorde, who settled in Harlem. Lorde’s mother was of mixed ancestry but could “pass” for ‘Spanish’, which was a source of pride for her family. Lorde’s father was darker than the Belmar family liked, and they only allowed the couple to marry because of Byron Lorde’s charm, ambition, and persistence. Nearsighted to the point of being legally blind and the youngest of three daughters (her two older sisters were named Phyllis and Helen), Lorde grew up hearing her mother’s stories about the West Indies. At the age of four, she learned to talk while she learned to read, and her mother taught her to write at around the same time. She wrote her first poem when she was in the eighth grade.
    Source: Wikipedia


  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @Hal, a big LOL…

    Brother I know as much or as little about your ‘knowledge’ and ‘experience’ as you offer and have offered publicly.

    Don’t be ‘silly’ yourself.

    A fool does NOT become an editor at a leading publication in a major western city.

    An idiot (person lacking knowledge) does not – by his own admission – own hundreds of books unless … well that he is a foolish pretender!

    A smarty-pants does come on BU using this Socratic style and suggesting he ‘may know the answer’ to his queries.

    Yes bro I know you not directly but anyone who has the gumption and ambition to act the part of ‘scribe to the masses’ over several years with his “Notes…” in sum offering his breadth of “knowledge” to all within reach of those scribblings and now has the balls to offer himself as ‘ignorant’ is indeed amazing.

    So yes @Hal, go with the Doc… I am a joker and you good sir are … well, whatever you want to make out to be…

    I know and remember one thing from school ‘daze’ … to paraphrase : a breach of commonsense is the first step to a lot of BS.

    I gone bro… Pose your questions !


  • Smokey Burke has did. How sad. I know he has been going back and forth to Canada, but this still comes as a surprise. 69 is too young.
    I remember one year a couple English friends of mine were getting married in Barbados and I asked Smokey to serenade them at the ceremony. He dropped everything and did it at short notice. My friends were impressed. Great guy.


  • Smokey Burke has did.


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