Ah meet up wid me two Grand-Dads
Ah would have men-shunned before that my Paternal Grandfather was African descent, Jet Black, and he wasah Major (Alexander) in de Salvation Army, de White Man Religion. And dat my maternal Grandfather was Irish descent, Milk White, and he was ah Pointer (Bailey) in the Spiritual Baptist, de Black Man Religion. What ah Pair-ah-ducks (paradox). Pointer Bailey was ah revolutionary. He would ah been de only white senior Spiritual Baptist at de time.
In retrospect, ah was happily raised or spoiled wid de Black-man side ah de family or de white-man religion side; de Salvation Army dat never-the-less represented de Poor man side ah Christianity. Ah uses to love to accompany Nanny, my Great-aunt to “Converted” Meetings. Nanny was Pointer Bailey’s sister. In dem days Spiritual Baptists was called “Converted,” not converted Christians, just “Converted.”
Pointer Bailey’s Praise House was in Upper Richmond Hill near Dorsetshire Hill. A small 8 feet x10 feet board house, two or three benches to rest yuh foot when yuh tired jump. De all white membership comprised of de poorest “Converteds” from Dorsetshire Hill He had “Eyes of Faith” ah Spiritual Gift. He uses to see hidden things and prophesy. Interestingly his eyes were blue and sunk deep in de sockets, thick grey eye-brows and ah heavy white beard. He looked like Eli-jah or one ah dem ole time Prophet. If he was alive today, Yuh see how de PM like Spiritual Baptists and profits, ah sure dat Pointer Bailey and de PM would ah do well. Mek it better how two ah dem white alike. ;
Meetings were lively, no electricity back den, but was like everybody uses to walk wid ah candle, even me was given ah candle. Wid all dem candles burning, Praise House looked like ah Light House on de Hill. Pointer Bailey sat behind ah small (head) table wid all colour candles. He was always scoping de scene but wid dem deep eyes of his, yuh couldn’t tell who he watching. At every meeting de high point was when he was about to prophesy. First he would rise, de Holy Book in de right-hand and wid his left hand, he would ring de bell three times; suddenly de meeting went silent. Someone would give ah testimony and den Pointer Bailey would prophesy. Some scary messages sometimes.
But ah did really love dem Converted Meetings, de singing was soul-full, dey sang in harmony, danced to ah Rhythmic pounding of feet on de wooden floor, dat was called “dup-shun!” Members spoke in unknown tongues, to de ears of ah child, dat was ah far-rain language. One thing dat bothered me though, was like every turn ah mek in de room, dem Eyes foh Pointer B always watching me like if ah came to spy. Come to think of it, one side de family wanted me foh Major Alexander of de Salvation Army and de other, foh Pointer Alexander of de Spiritual Baptist. So ah made my own choice , ah did like an old centenarian friend of mine did when his church gave him an ultimatum, either he eject his common law fiancé with whom he lived foh many years, or marry her. He chose neither and so did I..
Ah doh know if it was ah dream or ah Vision, but ah met both grand-fathers in me sleep. And dey were giving me ah message: “Too many false profits have come here enter-fear-in de people’s mind, dey messed wid spiritual matters and evoked ah lot ah demons dat dey dem-selves couldn’t control, so dey had to abscond run away, but not wid-out de money from people whom dey fooled and robbed. But dey left behind an Army ah Demons dat presently stalking de land wid fear.”
It was like sweet-pain to hear my Grand-dads speak in one accord of Church leaders: “ Leaders are too obsessed over material possession,” Dey said: “ dey want world power and not God Power, dey prefer to sit in de house of man and not de House of God, dey have been silenced to a point of fear of de powers-dat-be, on moral and even spiritual matters. “ Ah ask dem if we got Demons hey. “Demons?” Said Grampa Bailey: “Demons winning de battle wid de Churches, Demons are now ruling de town, while Church leaders remain locked off in man-made palaces dey call house of God.
We Spiritual Baptists uses to arm we-selves wid de Power of de Holy Spirit, and move de churchs into every street corner in every town and village; wid our lighted candles, ringing Bell, Shouting and shaking down de place! We had Satan and his agents on de run, De Churches of today got to get up and free de country of all Demonic forces.” He said. Ah got so excited listening dem ole fellars, ah wake out me sleep! And wid dat is gone ah gone again.
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.