June 20, 2009

The George Lamming Pedagogical Centre

The George Lamming Pedagogical Centre
June 19, 2009
Cave Hill

On Tuesday, June 23, the name of one of this country’s illustrious sons and an outstanding Caribbean citizen will be inextricably linked to the academy when the University of the West Indies honours George Lamming. His name will be permanently inscribed on the pedagogical centre at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination (EBCCI) at Cave Hill, joining other distinguished regional citizens in a complex that pays tribute to the genius of Caribbean culture. The ceremony starts at 7.30 p.m.

The naming of the centre, which overlooks Cave Hill’s expansion project at the Lazaretto, will take place in the Walcott Warner Theatre. Cave Hill Principal and Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles and Professor Lamming are expected to be present for the occasion and to address the gathering.

In was only on March 12 this year that Sir Hilary, while presiding over a ceremony that honoured Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott and late theater director and dramatist Earl Warner by naming the EBCCI theatre after them, said university administrators “want to bring the spirits of our great artistes into (this) space as a standard for our students and for the community.”

During next week’s ceremony an excerpt from the “Ma & Pa Scene” from Lamming’s first novel, In the Castle of My Skin, will be performed by Cecily Spencer-Cross and Clairmonte Taitt, in addition to three readings by participants in Professor Lamming's creative writing workshop.

Attendees will be able to obtain copies of Lamming’s latest publication, Sovereignty of the Imagination, launched this year on his birthday, June 8 when he turned 82.

Lamming has been described as “a poet, novelist, essay writer, orator, lecturer, teacher, editor and tireless activist for a new world-order and a New-World order”. He was born in 1927 in Carrington Village, St. Michael and attended Roebuck Boys' School, from which he won a scholarship to Combermere School. There, guided by his teacher, the late Frank Collymore, who permitted him to use his private library, Lamming developed a passion for reading and began his literary career as a poet.

While only 19 years old, and on the recommendation of Collymore, Lamming was hired by El Collegio de Venezuela, a boarding school for boys in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, where between 1946 and 1950, he taught English to young Hispanic students. He migrated to England in 1950.

The 2008 citation that chronicled his story for the ceremony that conferred on him the Order of the Caribbean Community said: “Lamming encountered England as an already mature and profoundly organic intellectual, whose most vivid childhood memory was of the March 1937 Labour Riots in Barbados, and whose Trinidad experience had exposed him to that country's poets – Cecil Herbert and Eric Roach – and young nationalistic intellectuals, in those early days of Universal Adult Suffrage, wildcat politics, emergent trade unionism and agitation for social and political reform.

“The depths of Lamming's understanding of social, political and historical issues are soon revealed in his first four novels: In the Castle of My Skin, (1953), The Emigrants, (1954) Of Age and Innocence (1958) and Season of Adventure, (1960). In the Castle of My Skin presents the plantation as economic, social and psychic structure, locating the Barbadian village in its erased history of feudal serfdom, and recognising the ambiguity of colonial education as an agency of both social emancipation and mental re-enslavement.

“Lamming's novels and essays for three decades afterwards would mercilessly scrutinise the new class of intellectual proprietors and overseers produced by that education.”

Lamming was honoured by CARICOM for “50 years of extraordinary engagement with the responsibility of illuminating Caribbean identities, healing the wounds of erasure and fragmentation, envisioning possibilities and transcending inherited limitations”. The region also applauded his “intellectual energy, constancy of vision, and an unswerving dedication to the ideals of freedom and sovereignty”.

A new primary school at Welches, St. Michael that replaced Erdiston Primary and Carrington’s Primary, has been named after Lamming.


* Office of Public Information
* Tel.: (246) 417-4076
* Email: publicinformation@cavehill.uwi.edu


FSJL said...

It is amazing that it has taken this long for Cave Hill to honour Lamming.

I suspect it will take Mona even longer to get around to honouring Vic Reid.

Geoffrey Philp said...

True words, Fragano. I wonder why we are this way

FSJL said...

At Mona, it seems, a knighthood is needed (as well as a connection to the university) to have something like a theatre named after you.

Geoffrey Philp said...

We are a hard people when it comes to things like these.

Happy Father's Day, Fragano.

FSJL said...

Happy Fathers' Day and Solstice to you, Geoffrey.

(Leaving me to wonder why there isn't a Noel Vaz Theatre, an Elsa Goveia Lecture Hall, and other such mysteries.)