Posted by: lisaparavisini | July 23, 2014

Monique Roffey’s article stirs controversy


Monique Roffey’s article on Waterstone’s blog (see our previous post The new wave of Caribbean writers or go directly to the article at has stirred a wave of controversy throughout the region. One of the most detailed responses has come from St Lucian poet Vladimir Lucien, who writes in “Monique Roffey’s Dsicovery of Caribbean Literature” that:

Roffey’s idea of an increase in complex writing in the Caribbean is one that rejects or ignores history. It views the generation of the 60s and 70s as scapegoats who have accepted the sin of history and paid for it on the behalf of Caribbean writing. I am speaking of those who, according to Roffey-Raleigh, “ the Golden Era of Caribbean Literature, which is an odd way of seeing them, given that so many of these writers, (some of whom I’ve now met), don’t glow and aren’t made of gold.” But even the idea that “writing back” is a time that has gone is inaccurate. The whole writing back idea Roffey has is reductive and simplified, it ignores not only several writers who were not really writing back but doing the ‘new’ thing that she praises her generation for: “we are writing for ourselves and sometimes towards each other.” Which still begs the questions ‘About what?’ and ‘Who was the previous generation writing to/ward?’ Even works that might owe some debt to the European Great Tradition, like Omeros are studiously engaged in a conversation with Caribbean writers like Wilson Harris and Kamau Brathwaite. Roffey ignores a work like Brathwaite’s trilogy ‘The Arrivants’,— the first part of which would have been published around her birth year— which was not engaged in writing back as much as it was tracing the epic trajectory of the African from enslavement to the emergence of the diaspora using African and Caribbean musical forms as the rhythmical backbone of the poetry. And that was in the 60s! Or what about Naipaul’s commission to write ‘The Middle Passage’ at the invitation of Trinidadian Premier Eric Williams circa 1962? What Roffey does not realize is that writers then and now are writing HUMAN stories, writing about what it means to live in a particular society which structurally has not changed much.

For Lucien’s complete response go to


On July 9, 2014, OTEC News reported that EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard announced that considerable funds had been awarded to 19 projects in 12 countries. One of these is NEMO, an ocean thermal energy project off the west coast of Martinique. OTEC stands for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, a marine renewable energy technology that harnesses the solar energy absorbed by the oceans to generate electric power. Akuo Energy CEO Eric Scotto said that “The success of the NEMO project is a source of pride for Martinique and all the French overseas regions.” Martinique’s Regional Council President, Serge Letchimy, shared this view, adding that NEMO presents promising technology, not only for Martinique, but also for the entire Caribbean region. Here are excerpts of the OTEC report:

NEMO is an ocean thermal energy project off the west coast of Martinique in the Caribbean Sea. A moored barge will be installed housing four turbo-generators. Each will be driven by an Ammonia closed Rankine cycle utilising the circa 20°C temperature difference between the cold seawater at 1.1 km depth and the warm surface waters. The cold water is pumped via a single large diameter riser. Each turbine will produce roughly 4 MW resulting in a total nominal installed capacity of 16 MW with a maximum available capacity of 10.7 MW. The net generated power is exported to the grid via a subsea cable and a substation at an existing conventional fossil fuel power plant.

This project falls within the scope of the partnership agreement signed in January 2013 between DCNS and Akuo Energy to combine their respective skills with a view to marine renewable energy (MRE) developments. First application of this cooperation, the offshore OTEC plant project in Martinique will benefit from the complementary know-how of the two partners, which will work together during the construction and operation phases.

Akuo Energy will provide its expertise in the development and funding of renewable energy projects and its knowledge of island territories. It will be responsible for the grid connection of the plant, for example. Eric Scotto, Akuo Energy CEO, declared: “The success of the NEMO project is a source of pride for Martinique and all the French overseas regions. This decision on a European level consolidates the development of our group in insular tropical regions, on the most appropriate Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) technology for these specific areas”.

Meanwhile, DCNS will be the technical and industrial coordinator of the project, to which it will bring its unrivalled skills in complex system engineering and maintenance. Frédéric Le Lidec, DCNS Senior VP Marine Renewable Energy Business Line, said: “The selection of this project by Europe prefigures the development of an OTEC industrial sector in which DCNS will be one of the main stakeholders. This technology will eventually benefit all overseas island territories, non-connected to continental power grid, and therefore help isolated areas achieving energy self-sufficiency”. [. . .]

[Many thanks to Caroline Ferrandino for bringing this item to our attention.]

For full article, see

Also see post by Serge Letchimy on his blog:

For related article, see


Nigeria’s Fela Anikulapo Kuti (1938–1997) is arguably the greatest musician to come out of Africa in the twentieth century, the inventor of the groundbreaking sound known as Afrobeat.

On Wednesday 30 July, the trinidad+tobago film festival, in collaboration with the Emancipation Support Committee and with technical services from North Eleven, will present Finding Fela (2014), a documentary on the life of this towering figure of music and resistance.

The screening takes place ahead of a live performance by Fela’s son, Seun Kuti, and his band Egypt 80, at the Queen’s Park Savannah the following evening, 31 July.

Venue for the screening of the film—which is 119 minutes long—is the VIP Room of the Grand Stand at the Queen’s Park Savannah. The film begins at 7pm. Seun Kuti will be present at the end to engage in a Q&A session with the audience.

Admission is free and open to everyone.

Directed by Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, Finding Fela is a sweeping portrait of the artist as guerrilla warrior. Set to the insistent groove of Fela’s revolutionary Afrobeat sound, the remarkable story of one man’s courageous stand against a corrupt and dictatorial government gives testament to the transformative power of music as a force for social and political change.


Fela’s influence spanned the globe as his soaring music and unstoppable spirit transported audiences in the Americas, Europe and, most importantly, throughout Africa. His defiantly vocal opposition to the military regimes destroying his people made him the voice of the oppressed masses—and a target of brutal government retaliation.

Finding Fela features recently rediscovered archival footage of the legendary musician in performance, in interviews and in unguarded private moments, as well as new interviews with family, colleagues and friends for a glimpse of the audacious and dangerous life of a contradictory iconoclast who defined African political thought for more than two decades.

Simultaneously, the film goes behind the scenes to observe the evolution of Fela!—the hit Broadway musical based on Fela’s life and work. As the two parallel tales intertwine and merge, they form a nuanced commentary on the crucial role of art in our global society.

Founded in 2006, the ttff is an annual celebration of films from and about Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and its diaspora. The Festival also screens films curated from contemporary world cinema. In addition, the ttff seeks to facilitate the growth of the Caribbean film industry by hosting workshops, panel discussions and networking opportunities. The Festival is presented by Flow, and given leading sponsorship by bpTT and the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company.

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 23, 2014

Caribbean Sea Viewed from the International Space Station


From the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, flying some 225 nautical miles above the Caribbean Sea in the early morning hours of July 15, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman photographed this north-looking panorama that includes parts of Cuba, the Bahamas and Florida, and even runs into several other areas in the southeastern U.S. The long stretch of lights to the left of center frame gives the shape of Miami.

For original source and more photos, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 23, 2014

3 Cases of Chikungunya in New York (Texas and Florida, Too)


The chikungunya virus seems to be slowly (but surely) spreading towards the northeastern United States. Three infected people have arrived in Long Island, New York, after Caribbean travel and one in Florida. One more case, in Dallas, Texas, was reported today. However, a Long Island doctor says that he does not predict high numbers of infections. Here are excerpts from a recent Newsday article:

A tropical infection with a tongue-twister name has been transmitted to a Florida man by a mosquito in that state, while three Long Island travelers contracted the same virus in the Caribbean and returned home debilitated in recent weeks. Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed chikungunya virus was transmitted to the Florida man, who had not traveled abroad.

Three cases of the infection — all involving travel — have been diagnosed at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, said Dr. David Hirschwerk, a specialist in infectious diseases and associate chairman of medicine.

[. . .] Hirschwerk said he and his colleagues diagnosed chikungunya fever virus within the past six weeks. The Long Island patients were unrelated, he said. “One of those cases has been confirmed by the CDC,” Hirschwerk said, “and testing is still pending on the others. The likelihood of having more cases in individuals who have not traveled is very low. [. . .] The Florida case is unusual and I don’t expect to see high numbers [of infections] but we have to keep an eye on the situation.”

For some experts, the emergence of chikungunya in Florida sounds an alarm because the virus is carried by mosquito species — Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti– that are well established in this country.

“The two species of Aedes mosquitoes that spread chikungunya are found in the southern and eastern United States,” said Dr. Erin Staples, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC. “It is difficult to predict how the disease will spread in the mainland U.S.,” Staples said, “but we predict small, focal outbreaks, similar to pockets of dengue fever infections that have occurred previously in Florida and Texas.”

At Stony Brook University, Dr. Jorge Benach said he was not surprised to learn of mosquito-transmitted chikungunya in Florida. [. . .]

For full article, see

Also see 


Wayne Frederick

The Trinidadian surgeon and scholar, Dr. Wayne Frederick was voted the 17th president of Howard University, in Washington, DC, United States, on Monday, July 21, 2014, with a unanimous vote by the university’s board of trustees. Peter Ray Blood reports:

A graduate of St Mary’s College, Wayne Frederick, MD, MBA, FACS, originally from Opal Gardens, Diamond Vale, Diego Martin, and grandson of late attorney Charles Tyson, has served as the university’s interim president since last October.

He enrolled at Howard as a 16-year-old and earned a dual BSc/MD degree programme at 22, then went on to a surgical residency at Howard University Hospital. He completed a post-doctoral research fellowship and a surgical oncology fellowship at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre, then earned an MBA degree from Howard’s School of Business.

Now a respected scholar, surgeon, researcher and administrator, Frederick previously served as Howard’s Provost and chief academic officer, charged with oversight of Howard’s 13 schools and colleges, as well as its health sciences enterprise.

[. . .] According to the university release, the PSC, chaired by Vernon E Jordan, Jr, comprised all the university’s stakeholder groups and included Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed and California Attorney General Kamala D Harris. After conducting an exhaustive national search, we identified a finalist pool, comprised of both internal and external candidates. From this stellar group, Dr Frederick stood out as supremely qualified, remarkably motivated and uniquely suited to lead Howard University.”

For full article, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 23, 2014

Using Creole, and Other Regional Dialects in Writing


Trinidadian writer and journalist Lisa Allen-Agostini recently wrote (in Allyson Latta’s blog Memoir, Writing, & More) about her experiences using Creole in her writing. Allen-Agostini, who was a guest speaker at Latta’s writers’ retreat in Grenada last April, shares her thoughts on this topic and offers tips to writers who want to use regional dialects successfully in their work. Here are a few excerpts, with a link to the full article below:

I write a weekly column in a national newspaper, the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian. For about four years, I wrote it almost entirely in Trinidad Creole. It was both an experiment and a unique selling proposition: first, I wanted to prove that complex social and political analysis could be accomplished in Trinidad Creole and, second, I wanted to differentiate my column from the dozens of others in local papers.

Among newspaper columnists in Trinidad and Tobago, Creole was and is still largely used for dramatic effect, as an insertion in a Standard English argument. Where a column is written in Creole it is usually for comic effect. This wasn’t what I wanted to do. I figured that all over the country people were conducting business, discussing their lives and analyzing politics and government in our Creole. Why not use it as a legitimate, serious medium? The reactions I got were mixed.

Some people loved it. Nationals living abroad loved it especially, as it reminded them of home and our heritage. Others hated it. They felt that by putting Creole into the newspaper I was legitimizing “bad English” or the use of an inappropriate language in the public sphere. By using Creole in a national column, they said, I was giving it a stamp of approval, and sending confusing messages especially to students who were and still are expected to write and speak in Standard English, and who are penalized for using the Creole in school.

Personally I find Trinidadian Creole to be a lovely language, one with a wide range and a poetry I enjoy. Words like obzocky and tabanca and tootoolbay have Standard English equivalents but these don’t quite encompass the nuance of the Trinidadian Creole words. Similarly, regional dialects all over the world deviate from Standard English to a greater or lesser degree. When a writer decides to use a regional dialect in her writing, she may face the same challenges I did. So why use Creole, or any other regional dialect? [. . .]

[The author proceeds to give sound advice to writers who want to use Creole, stressing that “As with any new language, learning to use dialect effectively takes practice.” She adds, “Reflect on your reasons for incorporating it — anthropological authenticity, characterization, and/or art—and ensure that any dialect enhances, rather than gets in the way of, an effortless and meaningful experience for your readers.”]

See full article, at


One of Belize’s best football players, Maurice Guild, better known as ‘Gene’ Guild and ‘Japanese Bomber,’ died suddenly on July 1, 2014. Guild migrated to New York City in the early 1980s and played football for Starwars, Belway, and Ubafu, with whom he won a championship in the Honduran Football League. He also coached several teams in Brooklyn and did his best to share his expertise with youngsters. After he retired from playing competitive football in New York, due to an injury in 1984, he began a new career as a singer. Wellington C. Ramos writes:

The viewing and funeral service was held at Saint Albans Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, New York City on Monday, July 7. The church was packed to capacity and many people had to sit in the basement or remain outside to pay their last respects to him. Many of his relatives and friends shared their experiences with this outstanding human being, who was loving, caring, supportive and a role model. After the funeral service the people had a chance to meet with relatives, friends and former football players who they have not seen for many years.

[. . .] His dream was always to share his knowledge of this sport with younger people so that he could assist them in developing their knowledge and playing of the game. Two years ago, Gene Guild, Robert Melendez (better known as “Mole”), Salomon Flores, Michael Ellis, Derrick Lopez, Errol Flores, some other former football players and myself got together and we founded the Belizean American Caribbean Football Association Inc. soccer league. The purpose of this league is to teach young children how to appreciate, learn all the fundamentals of football and play the sport.

We all came to the conclusion, that the Belizean footballers are dying out and we do not have enough young Belizeans in New York City playing the sport to replace them. Shortly after we founded the league, another football legend “Mugga” Garbutt died and we had to honour him in a grand celebration on Belize Day in September at Gershwin Park in Brooklyn. Our intentions remain intact and we are planning to do the same this year for him, another football legend. [. . .]

[Photo above of Gene Guild, left, and his brother, Emerson, is from]

For full article, see


La Parguera is a village (part of the town of Lajas) in southwestern Puerto Rico. For many years, tourism in the area focused on its “Phosphorescent Bay,” but recently the bay’s bioluminescence has all but disappeared. This article, posted by the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, states that several institutions have come together to study how human impact and related factors have changed La Parguera’s delicate ecosystem.

A new study describes the social-ecological system of La Parguera, Puerto Rico, and identifies the different pressures that have changed this system over the last 40 years. According to the report, multiple pressures have changed this ecosystem, including: sedimentation, nutrient enrichment, elevated seawater temperatures, and overfishing. La Parguera is a small fishing village on the southwest coast of the island, best known for the night time bioluminescence of marine algae in its “Phosphorescent Bay.”

The new report contains maps representing the geographical distribution of habitats, human governance, and the human footprint of roads, settlements, and urban development. The assessment incorporates the views of various local stakeholder groups and provides an informational baseline and framework to restore the La Parguera ecosystem.

NCCOS, the Caribbean Coral Reef Institute, the University of Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, and the Puerto Sea Grant Program contributed to this study.

For more information, contact  or

For full article, see



Posted by: ivetteromero | July 22, 2014

Jamaica and China Sign Sweet Potato Research Agreement


The University of the West Indies-Mona and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science have signed a research agreement focused on developing and innovating technologies to preserve the shelf-life and quality of sweet potato.

The agreement involves research by the Laboratory of Crop Science, UWI Mona campus, headed by Professor Noureddine Benkeblia, and the Postharvest Science Laboratory, Institute of Sweetpotato Research/Xuzhou Sweetpotato Research Center, Xuzhou Academy of Agricultural Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science (CAAS), headed by Dr. Qinghe Cao.

The agreement, which was by The UWI Mona Principal, Professor Archibald McDonald and CAAS Director, Professor Fei Xu, will also seek to innovate technologies aimed at improving the ‘storability’ of sweet potato varieties that are grown in Jamaica and China.

Under the agreement, the Laboratory of Crop Science at The UWI Mona will deploy its expertise in developing the Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) technology to extend the shelf-life of sweet potatos; the Postharvest Science Laboratory, Institute of Sweetpotato Research/Xuzhou Sweetpotato Research Center will investigate the selectivity of the different genotypes of sweetpotato and run some basic experiments on their storability under standard storage conditions. [. . .]

For full article,

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