Marcella Klejnot: The Legacy of Colonization

 

St. Lucia

Theodora Onken

Destination-location-St. Vincent and Martinque-
West Indies island-a paradise many seek~
The landmark Piton's-
Amazing jungle covered peaks-
Rising a half a mile-
Above the Carribean Sea~
'Tis a tropical climate breeze-
Scented with wild Red Ginger Flowers-
Orange Tulips and Hot Pink Bougunvilla-
'Tis a Palm tree lined retreat~
Vocanic sand beaches and rain forests-
Emerald green-
Anse Chastanet- a resort- in harmonies
Enchanted scene~
Try a cocktail of Coco Passion and -
Enjoy the Peppermint scented mist-
Or go to the Kai Belte Spa (House Of Beauty)-
And breathe in the island bliss~
For dining pleasure-
Trou Au Diable and Piti Piton-
Candle lite dinners divine-
Piquant salt fish or baked maui-maui-
Would be choices of mine~
Water taxi to the fishing village of-
Soufriere and encounter the friendly spirits-
Of local natives there~
Or go to the drive in Volcano and view-
It's rare activity-
Yes- St. Lucia* has a little something for-
Most everybody!

© 2009 Theodora Onken (All rights reserved)

 

When she was just seventeen, Marcella Klejnot, left her Caribbean "wonder" island of St. Lucia to see what life would be like in England.  Like so many other inhabitants of St. Lucia, Marcella had family in England as well as on her island nation.  St. Lucia, at one time was claimed by British, colonized by the French, and then contined to change hands between the French and British from 1866 to its official independence in 1979.


 

It was the French who began developing the island agriculturally with sugar cane and plantains being primary crops.  The French used local Carib laborers, but soon found out with there was more work than they had labor to work their expansive plantations.  African slaves were brought into work the fields and soon after diseases introduced through the colonizers themselves and people they forced to be a part of the culture, killed many local Caribs who had a lack of immunity to smallpox and measles. 

Today, Marcella's St. Lucia holds the legacy of colonization.  The population just under 200,000, is primarily supported by the tourist industry, though a small agriculture economy is still in place.  The school and legal systems still hold to the British systems.  St. Lucians can only attend school to the age of 15, or the equivalent of high school.  If people want to attend college or learn a technical trade they need to leave the island and go to another college or university in an ajoining Caribbean island or to attend a program in England.

While in England Marcella worked to get certificates in the travel industry through British Airlines and evidently started her career as a travel consultant with American Express and Japan Airlines.  She lived and worked in Britain for sixteen years. Upon returning to St. Lucia for a vacation she met her future husband, Leo Klejnot, who was a Peace Corp volunteer on the island.  At the time, Leo's was involved in helping a small women's cooperative expand their product and marketing line.

While the economy in St. Lucia rlies heavily on the tourist industry, there is a direct move by the government to help farmers diversify their groups to include the growing of cocoa, mango and avocadas, and to increase light manufacturing industries.  There has also been a good amount of work done in the last years to attract foreign investment capital to expand petroleum storage and trans-shipment industries.  While inflation has been relatively low on St. Lucia, the worldwide recession of the latter part of the 2000's has hit the island particularly hard with a major decline in the tourist industry.

When Marcella returned to St. Lucia she worked for one of the country's largest hotel in Castries, the capitol.  After marrying, she and Leo moved to Seattle, Washington.  Today, Marcella is pursuing a degree and a career in nursing. Like many of her St. Lucians, Marcella remains conflicted about leaving St. Lucia and living outside of her country.  While her heart remains in St. Lucia her practical nature keeps her eyes focused on her work here and the hint of a dream to return to her native land.

 

Derek Wolcott

Derek Walcott received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992.  Born in 1930 in the town of Castries in Saint Lucia, his island life has had a strong influence on his life and work. Both his grandmothers were said to have been the descendants of slaves. His father, a Bohemian watercolorist, died when Derek and his twin brother, Roderick, were only a few years old. His mother ran the town's Methodist school. After studying on his native island and at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Walcott moved in 1953 to Trinidad, where he has worked as theatre and art critic. At the age of 18, he made his debut with 25 Poems, but his breakthrough came with the collection of poems, In a Green Night (1962). In 1959, he founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop which produced many of his early plays.

Walcott has been an assiduous traveller to other countries but has always, not least in his efforts to create an indigenous drama, felt himself deeply-rooted in Caribbean society with its cultural fusion of African, Asiatic and European elements. For many years, he has divided his time between Trinidad, where he has his home as a writer, and Boston University, where he teaches literature and creative writing.

 

Sabbaths

Those villages stricken with the melancholia of Sunday,
in all of whose ocher streets one dog is sleeping

those volcanoes like ashen roses, or the incurable sore
of poverty, around whose puckered mouth thin boys are
selling yellow sulphur stone

the burnt banana leaves that used to dance
the river whose bed is made of broken bottles
the cocoa grove where a bird whose cry sounds green and
yellow and in the lights under the leaves crested with
orange flame has forgotten its flute

gommiers peeling from sunburn still wrestling to escape the sea

the dead lizard turning blue as stone

those rivers, threads of spittle, that forgot the old music

that dry, brief esplanade under the drier sea almonds
where the dry old men sat

watching a white schooner stuck in the branches
and playing draughts with the moving frigate birds

those hillsides like broken pots

those ferns that stamped their skeletons on the skin

and those roads that begin reciting their names at vespers

mention them and they will stop
those crabs that were willing to let an epoch pass
those herons like spinsters that doubted their reflections
inquiring, inquiring

those nettles that waited
those Sundays, those Sundays

those Sundays when the lights at the road's end were an occasion

those Sundays when my mother lay on her back
those Sundays when the sisters gathered like white moths
round their street lantern

and cities passed us by on the horizon Those villages stricken with the melancholia of Sunday,
in all of whose ocher streets one dog is sleeping

those volcanoes like ashen roses, or the incurable sore
of poverty, around whose puckered mouth thin boys are
selling yellow sulphur stone

the burnt banana leaves that used to dance
the river whose bed is made of broken bottles
the cocoa grove where a bird whose cry sounds green and
yellow and in the lights under the leaves crested with
orange flame has forgotten its flute

gommiers peeling from sunburn still wrestling to escape the sea

the dead lizard turning blue as stone

those rivers, threads of spittle, that forgot the old music

that dry, brief esplanade under the drier sea almonds
where the dry old men sat

watching a white schooner stuck in the branches
and playing draughts with the moving frigate birds

those hillsides like broken pots

those ferns that stamped their skeletons on the skin

and those roads that begin reciting their names at vespers

mention them and they will stop
those crabs that were willing to let an epoch pass
those herons like spinsters that doubted their reflections
inquiring, inquiring

those nettles that waited
those Sundays, those Sundays

those Sundays when the lights at the road's end were an occasion

those Sundays when my mother lay on her back
those Sundays when the sisters gathered like white moths
round their street lantern

and cities passed us by on the horizon

 

A Far Cry from Africa

 A wind is ruffling the tawny pelt
Of Africa, Kikuyu, quick as flies,
Batten upon the bloodstreams of the veldt.
Corpses are scattered through a paradise.
Only the worm, colonel of carrion, cries:
"Waste no compassion on these separate dead!"
Statistics justify and scholars seize
The salients of colonial policy.
What is that to the white child hacked in bed?
To savages, expendable as Jews?
Threshed out by beaters, the long rushes break
In a white dust of ibises whose cries
Have wheeled since civilizations dawn
>From the parched river or beast-teeming plain.
The violence of beast on beast is read
As natural law, but upright man
Seeks his divinity by inflicting pain.
Delirious as these worried beasts, his wars
Dance to the tightened carcass of a drum,
While he calls courage still that native dread
Of the white peace contracted by the dead.

Again brutish necessity wipes its hands
Upon the napkin of a dirty cause, again
A waste of our compassion, as with Spain,
The gorilla wrestles with the superman.
I who am poisoned with the blood of both,
Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?
I who have cursed
The drunken officer of British rule, how choose
Between this Africa and the English tongue I love?
Betray them both, or give back what they give?
How can I face such slaughter and be cool?
How can I turn from Africa and live? A wind is ruffling the tawny pelt
Of Africa, Kikuyu, quick as flies,
Batten upon the bloodstreams of the veldt.
Corpses are scattered through a paradise.
Only the worm, colonel of carrion, cries:
"Waste no compassion on these separate dead!"
Statistics justify and scholars seize
The salients of colonial policy.
What is that to the white child hacked in bed?
To savages, expendable as Jews?
Threshed out by beaters, the long rushes break
In a white dust of ibises whose cries
Have wheeled since civilizations dawn
>From the parched river or beast-teeming plain.
The violence of beast on beast is read
As natural law, but upright man
Seeks his divinity by inflicting pain.
Delirious as these worried beasts, his wars
Dance to the tightened carcass of a drum,
While he calls courage still that native dread
Of the white peace contracted by the dead.

Again brutish necessity wipes its hands
Upon the napkin of a dirty cause, again
A waste of our compassion, as with Spain,
The gorilla wrestles with the superman.
I who am poisoned with the blood of both,
Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?
I who have cursed
The drunken officer of British rule, how choose
Between this Africa and the English tongue I love?
Betray them both, or give back what they give?
How can I face such slaughter and be cool?
How can I turn from Africa and live?


Arthur Lewis


Many years before Derek Wolcott won the Nobel Prize in Literature, Arthur Lewis, in 1979, won the Nobel Prize in Economics.  He was the first black person to win the prize in a category other than peace.  Lewis' work centered on development in emerging countries.  He also delved into the history of economics, concerned about how wages during the industrial revolution remained more or less constant while profits and savings soared.  Lewis' madel of economics encouraged Western nations to support less-devleoped countries.