We are developing the interviews into a narrative history of St. Lucia, from 1945 to the present day. This fragment is a sample of our format.
Charles Cadet: For years, you were being migrated, you were slaves, you were chattel; you were no more than a horse, a cow, or a mule, and then you were sold.
Dunstan St. Omer: Derek (Walcott) wrote his first play, Henri Christophe, about the Haitian Revolution when he was 18. One of the lines
impressed me so much that I’ve quoted it all my life, “A slave dreams in extremes.”
Jane King Hippolyte: There was no space for pride in oneself or one’s nationality under colonialism.
Dunstan St. Omer: Derek and I were dreaming of our freedom, we were dreaming of being like anybody else in the world. It’s an important thing; the great powers of the world have to give you permission to be equal. What could I do about it? Because all the powers of the whole world were the authority and I was the poor little boy. Because of the kind of mind God gave me, I reverted to dreaming. You dream yourself into a different world, a better world. You dream of being a person, like all the other people that you see everywhere in the world. As a colonial, you’re nothing, you’re nobody, and then you’re black. What impelled us to seek artistic freedom and break the bounds of our time is that we were trying to find our identity. In colonialism that is suppressed, it is removed. British colonies were strictly for exploitation.
Kennedy “Boots” Samuel: The colonials established the education system, the judicial system, the political system. The people had no choice but to fit in. That essential conflict is there and none of these things have changed significantly.
Dunstan St. Omer: There was no such thing as West Indian history. I was taught the geography of England in school. I still remember; all of it has stayed in my mind. In the meantime, there was not a word about St. Lucia. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
Kennedy “Boots” Samuel: Within families, right within the grassroots, you were growing up, striving to make it, aspiring to be middle-class; so you accepted a lot of the systems, most of which were imposed by the colonizers. One of the main things was the educational system; everybody wanted education. The educational system had its inherent bias against local traditions and popular culture. We had priests (teachers) who told the story of colonials and colonial development; the books left out our stories, the stories of the colonized peoples.
Kendel Hippolyte: I wrote a piece, trying to draw parallels between the experience of trans-Atlantic slavery - the middle passage, and slavery in the Caribbean in the past - and the ways in which those things are being continued now.
Her Excellency Dame Pearlette Louisy: We were, for the greater part, English -it was British colonialism and so, obviously, the British would expect us to speak English. Some people ascribe kwéyòl to colonialism; the British would expect you to speak English, and if you couldn’t speak the language of officialdom, and all you could speak was kwéyòl, then you were almost a non-person. And you, yourself, felt that because you couldn’t speak English, you didn’t have anything to offer as a contribution to general discussions or discourse.
Kennedy “Boots” Samuel: Within me, you could see an illustration of the conflicts in St. Lucia and St. Lucian culture. I mirrored a lot of the things that were going on -the clash of cultures.
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