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Louise Bennett – Colonization in Reverse


[David B. Dacosta writes: “My first real exposure to Caribbean poetry came in the form of Miss Louise Bennett, affectionately known as Miss Lou. As a child in Jamaica in the 1970’s, she was a larger than life figure on both television and in Jamaican society on a whole. She’s written many poems, but Colonization in Reverse (1966), stands out as one of her best. Miss Lou is a cultural icon. Her objective was not to be the greatest poet, but simply entertain. But she was definitely one of the greatest all around Caribbean entertainers to walk this planet. May she rest in peace.]

Colonization in Reverse

“Wat a joyful news, Miss Mattie,
I feel like me heart gwine burs
Jamaica people colonizin
Englan in reverse.
By de hundred, by de tousan
From country and from town,
By de ship-load, by de plane-load
Jamaica is Englan boun.
Dem a pour out a Jamaica
Everybody future plan
Is fe get a big-time job
An settle in de mother lan.
What a islan! What a people!
Man an woman, old an young
Jus a pack dem bag an baggage
An tun history upside dung!
Some people doan like travel
But fe show dem loyalty
Dem all a open up cheap-fare-
To-Englan agency.
An week by week dem shippin off
Dem countryman like fire,
Fe immigrate an populate
De seat a de Empire.
Oonoo see how life is funny,
Oonoo see de tunabout?
Jamaica live fe box bread
Out a English people mout’.
For wen dem ketch a Englan,
An start play dem different role,
Some will settle down to work
An some will settle fe de dole.
Jane say de dole is not too bad
Because dey payin she
Two pounds a week fe seek a job
Dat suit her dignity.
Me say Jane will never fine work
At de rate how she dah look,
For all day she stay pon Aunt Fan couch
An read love-story book.
Wat a devilment a Englan!
Dem face war an brave de worse,
But me wonderin how dem gwine stan
Colonizin in reverse.”

[from Caribbean Literary Salon]

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