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A Vincentian Encyclopedia

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by Oscar Allen

I flip the leaves of this book and some of the pages catch my eye: “turn han, tek little, live long, koonoo moonoo, knock shallow plate, crappo smoke your pipe.” These are some of the examples of Vincy talk on page 190. Then there is “buddy me eye, longo-lah-la, jumbie breadfruit, and shine bush” in the list of more than 100 bush medicines.

This book has 20 lists of things we have inherited and created as Vincentians. From the forest trees to superstitions, early maps and plans, and the pottery and ceramics which our fore-citizens crafted way before Columbus’ people visited us. {{more}}This 250-page book was released as a gift to mark the 25th year of our constitutional independence and the author, Edgar Adams, rightly named it “National Treasures.” Identifying the national heritage and culture of SVG.

While the 70 or so pages of tables, maps, information lists, and rare photographs catch your attention, shake up your memory, and bring a smile to your face, it is in the other 180 pages of his book that Adams enters your imagination and makes you think of how awesome our heritage is.

In one recent review of the book the writer noted that:

In many cases, Adams unearths “buried” treasure, in that he explains the origins of buildings, tunnels, and sunken ships that most Vincentians probably never knew existed.

In her comment on how the author presents the material in his book, Ms. Sheldon wrote:

Adams was able to achieve a delicate balance between academic scholarship and compelling prose. Though packed with information, the book reads like a pleasant novel.

The author takes care when he writes about our physical heritage, the things that we see and touch to give us a philosophical and civilization sense of the items. He also introduced us to those Vincentians who have been pioneers and students in documenting our heritage. We read of Dr. Earle Kirby’s foundational work in archaeology, and of Fitzgerald Providence’s work on our forests. We meet also the work of Norma Kiezer on historical sights and educational history, and we read of the artwork of Vivian Child.

Cecil Blazer Williams says of this book that it is a cultural encyclopedia on Vincentian society. It opens our eyes to so many things that so many generations have planted in our islands.

For Adams, our Vincentian heritage is a creolized mold and owned by all of us. His book, “National Treasures” deserves to become like a citizen’s companion, one in each home that we turn to, to remember who we are and to teach our upcoming generation who they are supposed to be.