Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Independent St Lucia - Jazz and Nobel prizewinners

No one can scratch your itch or convey your message like yourself. (Ethiopia)

1979 – St Lucia became independent.

I landed in St Lucia once, intransit on a forced island hop. I was bumped off a direct flight from Trinidad to Antigua, and the option was a little propeller plane that took half a day to cover less than an hour's flight by the regional airline. I sat next to a lady who did not increase my confidence when she closed her eyes and hung on to her rosary for as long as we were airborne. So St Lucia remains for me part of an obstacle course of three or four islands impeding my reaching friends, and food, and firm ground in Antigua.

In recent times, the St Lucia jazz festival has drawn my interest. Some say it's the best time to visit for some excitement in a place more noted for peace and quiet, and jazz fans love the beautiful backdrop to great music. In this clip, Herbie Hancock provides one good reason why my real trip to St Lucia may not be far away.

My other interest in St Lucia is literary - it is the home of Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, poet, playwright, and visual artist. He was among the earliest students at the then University College of the West Indies, and has maintained links with Jamaica. One of my pleasures in the 1970s was watching his plays, my favorites being "Dream on Monkey Mountain" and "Ti-Jean and His Brothers."

St Lucia, with a population  of 160,000, is birthplace to two Nobel laureates. Before Walcott (1992), there was Arthur Lewis (1979). Incidentally, both are born on January 23 in different years. Arthur Lewis was the first Black person to win a Nobel Prize in a category other than peace. He was also Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies from 1959 to 1963.

Besides its Jazz Festival and two Nobel laureates, St Lucia is also known for rain foresrs, the Soufriere volcano, and the sulphur springs near the volcano. Because of their French heritage, St Lucians speak French patois as well as English. Zouk, a popular musical form found in islands with French connections, is popular in St Lucia.

So happy independence day, St Lucia!

If you are St Lucian, have visited St Lucia, or know anyone who has visited this island, please share your observations.


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When the occasion arises, there is a proverb to suit it. (Proverb from Rwanda and Burundi)

Welcome to this space where we can talk about proverbs that we can relate to (or not), and proverbs that make sense to us (or not). Most of all we can discuss how proverbs make us think about life and living. We can also share experiences of proverbs that have provided us with lifelines or just the chance to reflect.

Some of the proverbs here may also be found in "Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs", published by Random House and authored by Askhari Johnson Hodari and me. The foreword is written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

One of the unique features of our book is that we arranged the proverbs according to life cycle, in sections including, Birth, Childhood, Love, Marriage, and Intimacy, Challenge, and Death.

For more proverbs and for information on Lifelines: the Black Book of Proverbs, please visit us at