08 October, 2007


Is Anguilla a Literate Society? It is with reluctance that I enter into this topic. It touches a sore spot with me. A correspondent sent me an article from the Observer Newspaper in Antigua. The 6 October story was written by Annabel Fuller. I cannot give you the link, as the Observer can only be read by subscription. The story is about a gift of 29,000 books made by the Rotary Club of Antigua to a number of schools and libraries in that island. This worthy project was done in partnership with a Rotary Club in Annapolis in Maryland. According to the article, the gift went down very well in Antigua. Why, asked my correspondent, did the Rotary Club of Anguilla not do a similar project here?

My answer was as follows: It does not always work out. The Anguilla Rotary Club tried a used book project two years ago. We got about 30,000 books shipped for free from a Canadian school that was closing down. They were selected, sorted, and packed by the members of a Rotary Club there. When they arrived in Anguilla, they were rejected by the librarians as unsuitable. Even the encyclopedias and classics were described as "out of date". Worse, some of them had been previously handled. That was not good enough for Anguilla. Some were given away. The Club held four or five "one book for one dollar" sales of the remainder at Mariners. Those that were left over ended up in the dump. We all swore we would never again become involved in anything like that!

My correspondent shot back, “Don, this is very depressing. Russell wouldn't have done such a thing, would he? There are a few children here who really want to learn. Some of their families are quite poor and could never afford to have their own encyclopedia in their home, not even an old one. I come from a home that was filled with books. I did poorly in school, but educated myself about the things I wanted to know by reading books. I still do that today. I have very strong feelings about making books available to those few who want them.

There's a popular book here that's over 2000 years old and hardly anyone thinks it's out of date. This is insane. I hope you will write about it.”

Owning, reading, and handling used books are not, in my opinion, degrading or demeaning activities. I built up a collection of nearly 3,000 books on West Indian history that I later gave away. Some of the books were over 300 years old. How does anyone think you can get a “new” 300 year-old book? When I was a student, I used to haunt the second-hand book stores of Port-of-Spain. I visited the public library and bought every old book they were discarding that I wanted to read. Today, I still own thousands of books that were previously owned by someone else. I love second-hand books. I educated myself on second-hand classics.

But, the question is, does anyone in Anguilla still read today? Would second-hand books be appreciated by anyone in Anguilla? Or, would most people agree with those who rejected the books on the ground that it was demeaning for Anguillians to be invited to handle used books?


  1. "If we can't have new books, we don't want ANY books," we proudly say.

    Our pride causes much ignorance. And is this pride real, or just something we say?

    Proud people don't throw their garbage on the road. Proud people don't settle for mediocrity from themselves, their government, their leaders, their churches, their school buildings or their social services. Proud people don't excuse bad, rude and illegal behaviour from their own children.

  2. Pride is destroyed by our insisting that we have it.

  3. I sent today's blog to a friend in Jamaica, a place we all know is full of ignorant and morally inferior people. She wrote back:

    "Tossing books in to the dump.....that is the most disgusting, wasteful, and ignorant
    thing I've heard yet.

    "What is with some of the people there? How can the children ever be expected
    to learn and evolve if the adults 'in charge' are such morons?

    "I fear some of the young people may never have a chance if this type of thinking
    and behavior is allowed to continue."

  4. Man, she too fast! Let's all attack this ignorant Jamaican for her insensitivity to our superior culture and values.

  5. It is important to constantly try to reach the hardheaded and ignorant,people who think themselves to proud to accept hand-me -downs.Good God,we are only talking about books.How many of us who attended schools of higher learning we glad to get a used text book when we couldnt' afford one or had to out of necessity because none were avialable?It is ridiculous to imagine the world with out used books.Some of the best books are not being printed anymore ,so how would one go about getting a copy?I have read many used books in my life time and to this day still frequents used book sales in search of that elusive book.
    Anguillian pride is whats really stifling its our growth and development.Our leaders and so called' educated elite 'are arrogant and snobbish in their belief that they are better than most of our Caribbean neighbours and as such dont need any assistance from no one.They feel that they are self sufficient enoungh to do and think what ever they please.
    I recently had a conversation with a Miniter of Gov't and it was saddening to hear him boast about how his country is doing so well that they dont need any help from the British.They were doing so well that they had a budget surplus and their standard of livbing far exceeded that of all carbbean islands..Why is it I inquired ,then ,is there no adequate water on island,fire hydrants,Fire trucks just to name a few.His reply was that we are working on it.I just smiled to my self in disbelief.They are so arrogant that they wont even seek assistance from the very country who is supposed to render that assistance.This is why it is not so incredible to believe that they would refuse a donation of used books.
    Pride comes before a fall ,even the Romans,the pharohs.Alexander the great and Hitler found this out.It a lesson that can be found in many USED books if they were to take the time to read them.
    to Hon Mitchell,I beg you not to give up on them because there are still many of us who would like to see our children read more and many of us dont have the funds to purchase all the "new" books they need to further their education.If the opportunity should arise again accept the books on behalf of those fwe who really enjoy reading books period,books of all types new used,torn or otherwise.
    Knowledge is power and reading will give you the information to aquire that knowledge,so Anguililians READ READ READ ,even used books are worthy of your time.

  6. I have no problem with used books. However, any books recommended to school children should be approved by th elibrary or the schools. Harry Potter is a sensation in the USA. Haryy Potter is also associated with school shootings. Similar many of the anime books are graphic and contains sexuality and homsexuality.

    I have no problem in the librarian apporving what books are suitable for thelibrary. I would siggest that parents get more involve if they believ their kids are not reading enough. But I am happy with the library services in AXa and only wish we had another library.

    Don, some of those classics though are great literary books, we also know which ones have a lot of perversions that I would not want my kids reading.

    A well know booke that is still used in American and Canadian high schools still refer to black people as niggers.

  7. Just because a novel contains offensive language to our current sensibilities does not mean it should be discarded as filth. I recently read a novel in which every black person was referred to as "nigger". However ,it was not always used in deragotory manner; when this novel was written it was the commonly used term for black people. We cannot and should not censor these novels so that they conform to modern standards.

    These old works whether regarded as classics or not allow us a glimpse into different time periods. We can see the prevailing attitudes of these times and how similar/different they are to our own.

    I am avid reader. I do not care how new a book is as long as there is a story I shall read it.

    P.S. Can u please tell me what school shooting Harry Potter is associated with? I don't recall any guns in those novels.

  8. We do not have to follow Antigua. If the Rotary CLub of Anguilla wants to contribute books, they should set up a library Fund. This fund will then go to buy books that the Library or schools have on the wish list. It wil also ensure that needed books are donated to the community instead of old books that the developed world have no further use for. Many of these places do not even promote Cuban or Haiti history in a poistive light. Slavery is taught only from the point of view of the abolitionsit or the white hero rescuing blacks.

    In the 21st Century, we need books that are culturally appropriate. At the sametime we shoudl encourage wide reading of other cultures. But we must refrain from introducing books that are propagdising and distorted history.

    Tell me who in Anguilla would want their children reading the Adventures of Huckleberry Fin. Who want their kids gloryfying a pagan and evil religion promoted in Harry Potter. If Harry Potter was written by a caribbean author, it would be cast away as obeah, voodoo, negromacy, Yet, the wiccan religion is raking in millions across the world. Harry Potter indoctrinate kids to cast spells on others. It foster the type of culture for kids to do evil acts. This evil thirst is a glabal sensation. Yea, we can say it is just fantasy. Remember, even the unibomber had fantasies. The distrub mind works in mysterious ways. THose same people want to rid our schools of the bible but see no worng with paganism.

    I am really fed up with powerful social clubs trying to dictate what the children of Anguilla should be reading. What next? Lobby for change in our laws. And these Anguillians in these social clubs just allow certain people to think for them.

    The true test of literacy of a territory is based on many parameters such as:

    1. Number of Newspapers
    2. Access to internet
    3. Number of bookstores
    4. Number of journalist
    5. Number of blogs

    As Lil Kym say, "Y'all better stop it!" The ones who should be reading more are not our children but the darn adults who haven't read a book since they left school.

    Let the school and the library services approve the books our kids should be reading. And parents must get involve to make sure their kids are reading more.

  9. Ho ho ho ,the previous poster tickle me quite a bit putting down variuos books that doesnt conform.If you children are not exposed to different cultures, literary novels and opinions found in book how can they be well rounded scholars?They will be naive gullible disfunctionals in society.Our teacher do a splendid job of teaching our kids 'however ,different topics illict interlectual and constructive thought and reasoning.Wasnt romeo and juliet a story of suicide?what about Hansel and gretel?didnt the kill the wicked witch?ali barber and the forty thieves,they were killed tooI dont see Anguillians killing themselves because of broken love promises etc.Our literary landscape is littered with stories of deception,murder witchcraft etc.and has been from time immemorial.Your attack on the Rotary club is unwarranted and childish.Im sure you have been exposed to various topics and novels in your life time but yet you want to deprive our young people from that experience.A true libraryshould contain books of every sort not just what we think is "in" or appropriate for school.Not all of us beleive all the stuff in those books and most times read form recreation and fun.Perhaps, it is you who believe in Harry potter and his hype.No wonder we dont have two libraries if we selectively dump or discard books donated to us where will the funds come from?you?Such dramatic censorship of literary material is uncalled for.It is merely a reflection of our arrogant pride that accepting donated used books is beneath us.We are not a superpower with vast reserves of wealth.Every where in the world people are accepting donations except our affluent little Anguilla,who rejects every effort as an affront to their independence.Its alarming and discomforting to hear that Angillians are behaving in such a manner.The consequences of such behaviour can be crucial to us receiving aid from other contries in times of crisis.Be careful of the bridges you burn on your way up.

  10. The ones who should be reading more are not our children but the darn adults who haven't read a book since they left school.
    This ludicrous because most adults are well read and can differentiate fact from fiction but our young people might encounter a problem if they are not allowed to read and analyze these books.What are they to do when they encounter similar scenarios?Just stand and look dumbfounded and say "er ,am, i dont know?We should not be so critical when we ourselves were brought up reading all sorts of fairy tales depicting demons ,dragons,witches wizards and an awful amount of killings.We read about the slave trade,beatings,lynchings and such.
    Please stop with all this craziness
    you dont appear to be adversely affected by the books you read while growing up so why sit there in your high seat and dictate what is "appropriate"
    The Rotary Clud is a fine organization and should be commended for what it is doing but the poster is acting as if they are wrong for bring =ing in used books ,wow ,what a crime to humanity,how dare them to give us proud Anguillians such mediocre gifts.Shame on us all to follow their lead and discard those gifts.

  11. I must question the ethics of school librarians censoring out classics on the ground that they are "culturally insensitive." Should we permit our children to read the hate-filled, bloodthirsty, misogynistic writings of the Bible? Should Shakespeare's Othello be banned because the black man who dared to love a white girl had kill her and then to die? Should not the children be exposed to the classics and be left to their education to tell them what is culturally out of date? Did not all of us who are now adults have to make the discriminating choices for ourselves? What is culturally relevant today to Anguilla about any of the great European, Asian, or African authors? Nothing, yet, should not our children be exposed to the great writers for the broadening of their minds that will result?

    The great American black jurist, Thurgood Marshall, said, "If the 1st Amendment means anything, it means that the state has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch."

  12. I am responding to the post above that begins, "I have no problem with used books."

    The Harry Potter books have gained immense popularity, critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide, spawning films, video games and merchandise. As of April 2007, the first six books in the seven book series have sold more than 325 million copies and have been translated into more than 64 languages. The seventh and last book in the series was released in July. Publishers announced a record-breaking 12 million copies for the first print run in the U.S. alone.

    The success of the novels has made Rowling the highest-earning novelist in history. They are the classic good vs evil story -- with good always 'winning' out. They have inspired millions of people who never read anything to sit down and do just that. To suggest that Anguillian children should not read them (they include references to magick and witchcraft, but nothing about school shootings) reveals the mind of the infamous "BCJ", a New York Anguillian who believes we at home are too ignorant to survive without her constant preaching and warnings of her sexual and other obsessions. The style, cadence, format and beliefs contained in the post make it clear to "Sayso" and "Old Ta Girl" fans that it is indeed she.

    The self-styled "cyber activist" believes that those who venture into rural areas of Anguilla are in danger of being attacked by packs of wild dogs. She imagines that women in The Valley are in danger of being raped by "dirty" and sex-deprived Indians. "Don't think as a tourist you are safe, you are not", she warned visitors a while back. She predicts things. "This is not an ego," she announced. "I have a rare gift." She has put forth an innovative land reform plan: "When we can't afford to buy land anymore, we will just do like Chavez and Castro and take Shark Fin land and property and share it with those who have less."

    She doesn't seem to be a Carnival fan. "I am in favour of boycotting the festival and holding a Gospel Evangelical Carnival. People of Christian faith get together and hold a praise and worship concert everynight [sic] that the revelers are in Landsome Bowl." She is for law and order. "Even when boys decide to gather together innocently to chat and spend time together it provides an intimidating scene for passers-by. Large groups of loitering youth should be disbanded for the safety and peace of mind of others around." She talks a lot about having pride, but she has violent mood swings. "Guns are the symptoms of comprehensive moral decay - we're rotten".

    She believes "the constant use of microwaveable heating of food may not be a good idea..there is an electromagnetic field going on somewhere." And of course her famous warning that hordes of bedbugs were massing in New York to attack Anguilla.

    This, then, is the mind of BCJ, who advises us on which books our children should be allowed to read. She has announced that she is returning for good next year, to afford us ignorant country cousins her help and moral guidance.

  13. To some of the posters: Am I reading anguilla talk? Please, it is getting old.

    Back to the initial blog:
    1 But, the question is, does anyone in Anguilla still read today?
    2 Would second-hand books be appreciated by anyone in Anguilla? 3 Or, would most people agree with those who rejected the books on the ground that it was demeaning for Anguillians to be invited to handle used books?

    1Yes, 2Yes, 3Huh? The books were rejected but not on the ground you mention. I have not seen 30.000 books, just the lot delivered to Campus B. They were old books for Canadian children, text books, strange smelling. The strudents were exited at first, but browsing through the boxes, lost interest real fast.
    The Rotary's time and effort was appriciated, it was a disapointing experience for all involved.
    I think that to help anyone you have to identify the need. That simple.
    During that same time we had a talented, motivated, kind teacher who was teaching IT to 30+ students at a time with NO computers. The need was there but the advisers to the Rotary didn't get it just right: Appropriate books (new or old) were needed or No thank you, we need PC's.

  14. First of all even in the USA certain books are banned from some schools. I am not promoting banning Harry Potter or Huckle berry fin. I was merely that books must be approved base on the child's age. Books for primary school kids are different than books for teenagers.

    Harry Potter is not a book I would reccommend for primary school kids.

    To Kill A mOckingbird, is still banned in most American schools and children libraries. You know why? Everybook on the school list ,must be approved by the school board. If we have no authourity to approve books base on what's appropraite for our kids, we are surely lost.

    AGain I maintained don't allow anyone to influence the role of our library service or schools when it comes to the reading list for children.

  15. To the "Anonymous a dit" who says that our Ministers of Government are so ignorant.
    Three things:

    1.UK does not and has not provided Budegetary aid to Anguilla in over 25 years; and,

    2. When they provided Capital Aid, which has stopped for many years,
    they did it on a " matching funds basis". That is, in theory for every dollar they provided Anguilla had to match it. In practice though, it was different. UK would dictate what was approved and invariably it was a shell, so that their half was far less than the cost of completing whatever the progect was. In practice Anguilla had to fund, on average, 3 dollars for each dollar that Britain provided. And, as I said earlier, that too ended years ago. So, dont fool yourself and others about the fallacy that the Government can get assistance from the Colonial Imperial Masters. That just is not true.

    3. The way you write and the things you say suggest that you are not a Caribbean person by birth, and that is self explanatory.
    One Love idren

  16. Not a Caribbean by birth ?The arrogance of self worht is obvious but ironically is self defeating in nature.Even if I was not of Caribbean origin,I am ofcourse entitled to express my view point,am I not?
    The things that are being experienced by
    anguilla and
    anguillians are not at all unique,in that other emerging countries have under gone similar turmoil during their reconstruction.Anguilla is no different.We have to stop htese personal attack for they serve no useful purpose save to hinder discussions of topics that will enlighten us and provide solutions to the critical problems we face.I have no intention of engaging in useless banter with the previous poster,nor was it my intention to suggest that ministers of Gov't are ignorant that is his statement.My reference to my encounter was to highlight the arrogance of that minister.Aid is avialable to assistany emerging country who are trying to develop their infrastructure,whether it is provided by the British or some other country.The point is that because of this arrogant stance they might be to blame for the lack of such necessary components crucial to improving our infra structure.
    Anguillians,(all people living there) should be acutely aware of this persistant attitude which could hurt everybody domiciled there.
    It is quite irrelevant whether or not a person is of Caribbean origins as long as he is afforded the opportunity to express himself without prohibitions.Am I to believe that the prevailing concensus is that ,if you are not Anguillian or of Caribbean heritage one is not concerned or worthy to engage in matters that affect Anguilla or the region?.It is often time more useful to lend an ear to others who are not directly involvedin situations because they give you a different perspective ,and perhaps a new angle to tackle an old problem.However,when we exclude so called outsiders and disregard thier view points or opinions most time we end up reping the rewards of our puffed up arrogance,ie chaos.We are all in this together so instead of biting off each other's head ,let us work in concert to achieve our goal of preserving our Tranquillity Wrapped in Blue.
    Dialogue and civil discissions provides us with a mechanism to create solutions, but unwarranted criticism habours resentment,suspicions,prejudices and hatred that only serves to further injure/harm and alienate us all as a people.

  17. Useless banter.


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