Kamau_Brathwaite

Nothing Against Bob Dylan, But Wha Bout KAMAU?

Submitted by DAVID  COMISSIONG, President, Clement Payne Movement (Barbados)
Kamau Brathwaite

Kamau Brathwaite

So, the American folk/rock musician , Bob Dylan, has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature — the first time that a song lyricist has won this prestigious international award !

I say well done to Bob Dylan: he is deserving of every accolade that comes his way. In fact , I am one of Dylan’s biggest fans, and regularly  gorge myself on his socially conscious, insightful and poetic compositions, ranging from the anthemic “Blowing In The Wind” of the American civil rights era, through such folk and rock classics as “The Times Are A-Changing” , “Mr Tambourine Man”, “All Along The Watch-Tower” “Like A Rolling Stone”, “Knocking On Heaven’s Door” and the list goes on and on.

But, as much as I admire and appreciate the lyrical work of Bob Dylan, I can’t help but note that it pales in significance to the tremendous body of poetry and essays of cultural scholarship that  has been produced by our very own Kamau Brathwaite over a 65 year career of ground-breaking scholarship and artistic creation.

Why hasn’t the 86 year old Kamau Brathwaite– easily the most original and creative poet of the Caribbean and wider Americas region– ever been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature?

Is it because he is too authentically Bajan, Caribbean, African? Is he too Black, too revolutionary, too un-compromising in his views and in his defense of the intrinsic validity and worth of the culture, heritage and humanity of the Bajan/Caribbean/Afro-American/African/Third World peoples?

Several years ago, the Nobel Committee found it possible to award Nobel Prizes in Literature to two English-speaking Caribbean writers– Derek Walcott and V. S. Naipaul. Of course, the latter writer– Naipaul– has devoted much of his career to extolling the alleged virtues of the English and Western European culture and to sneering at and denigrating virtually every non-White civilization, including our Caribbean civilization.

Walcott’s work, on the other hand , has valorized and found universal relevance in our (and his) Caribbean culture and civilization, but has done so without veering too far away from the standard European models, standards and approaches. Unlike Kamau Brathwaite, Walcott has not plunged into a profound exploration and validation of our Nation Language , nor into the capacity of our African based and derived folk culture to generate authentic and valid myths , legends, philosophies, historical arch-types, poetical and literary devises, deities, and creation stories. Nor, for that matter, has he been the excoriating critic of European imperialism and domination that Brathwaite has been!

Thus,so far as the European literary establishment is concerned, Walcott has in all likelihood been a safer and less dangerous cultural warrior and literary iconoclast than Kamau Brathwaite has been AND  CONTINUES  TO  BE.

And so, even though the Nobel Committee may never be able to summon up the integrity and sense of justice that will be required of them if they are to make that fateful decision to award the Nobel Prize in Literature to the profoundly deserving Kamau Brathwaite, we should not let them off so lightly by failing to publicly press the case for Kamau.

I don’t know what the procedure is for nominating a writer for the Nobel Prize, but I think that the time has come for us Caribbean people to do the necessary research and to launch a very public campaign of advocacy in pursuance of a collective people’s demand that Kamau Brathwaite be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

A Tribute to Kamau Brathwaite by David ComissiongThe Quiet Warrior

Tags: ,

31 Comments on “Nothing Against Bob Dylan, But Wha Bout KAMAU?”

  1. Pachamama October 16, 2016 at 6:48 PM #

    David Comissong is WRONG!

    Does he not know that the Nobel prize was set up in honour of a man who made his money providing dynamite during WW1, to several sides of that conflict.

    That that ‘prize’ has previously gone to a large percentage of Jews, per population

    That a third Caribbean received such a ‘dishonour’, Arthur Lewis, another St.Lucian, for trapping Caribbean and African countries into western financial systems, World Bank, IMF. These led to the wall of economic failures in Sub-Sahara African countries and what we in the Caribbean are now starting to see. Promoted underdevelopment for decades.

    The case of Ghana and Lewis’ involvement is particularly troubling.

    That Derek Walcott, and this is not a bad thing, was being ‘urged’ by the Americans, the country in which he then lived, to become an American citizen as a condition precedent. Thankfully he refused.

    Our main point is that we should not seek to define ourselves by these platitude which we know are to serve imperialism, while expecting that our open enemies are to make fair judgments in our favour while they otherwise seek to rule us, culturally.

    The Nobel prize should mean nothing to us or be rightly seen as an institution of empire!

    Like

  2. Sargeant October 16, 2016 at 6:56 PM #

    I don’t know what the procedure is for nominating a writer for the Nobel Prize, but I think that the time has come for us Caribbean people to do the necessary research and to launch a very public campaign of advocacy in pursuance of a collective people’s demand that Kamau Brathwaite be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature
    +++++++++
    An admission that you don’t know the process is a good start but you should find out and submit your nomination before Kamau departs because the Nobel prize is only awarded to living recipients. Quick! Without having to look it up who won the Nobel prize for literature last year or the year prior, or two years prior. Every year the Nobel committee awards this prize to some obscure individual that no one has ever heard of, who is only recognizable to their immediate family or a small region where they reside, this year at least we can debate whether Dylan is a worthy recipient or not. Personally I like Dylan’s music and his album “The Essential Collection’ is a must have whenever I undertake a long road trip, I also have the Martin Scorsese bio ‘No Direction Home”.

    Dylan may not be very popular on the rock and if you listen to any recent performance he appears to be mumbling but he has made an outsized contribution to North American music, of course he borrowed from some other musical geniuses along the way but who hasn’t? I have long held the view that due to his body of work he should be lauded as the poet laureate of the US.

    About the Nobel, I was fortunate to attend a luncheon honouring two Doctors who spent their careers in research and made some significant discoveries and they used to be nominated every year but were passed over, they have gone to the great beyond so that prize will escape them but the Nobel committee has a myriad of entrants over the years.

    The motto is many are called but few are chosen.

    Like

  3. David October 16, 2016 at 7:08 PM #

    @Pacha

    What indigenous awards do we have that allow our top performers to be recognized globally? Isn’t the rationale by those who dish the Nobel Prize for the recipients to have excelled to a global standard read influence. We are part of a global space not so?

    >

    Like

  4. Georgie Porgie October 16, 2016 at 7:35 PM #

    Could not something be offered to those who write shyte on BU daily for five years?
    We could call it it the BULLSHIT PRIZE or the BU RUMSHOP PRIZE

    Like

  5. William Skinner October 16, 2016 at 9:42 PM #

    @georgieporgie. Please do not belittle the rumshop.

    Like

  6. Georgie Porgie October 16, 2016 at 9:47 PM #

    wILLIAM SKINNER
    QUID DIXI SCRIPSIQUE, DIXI SCRIPSIQUE

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bernard Codrington. October 16, 2016 at 9:49 PM #

    Has anyone ever forwarded Kamau’s name to the selecting committee of the Nobel Prize. If he has not been nominated his chances of getting one is slim. So Mr Commissiong needs to do his research and follow the procedures. I do not think getting a Nobel prize for literature would improve Kamaus’s reputation . There are somethings you cannot demand and pushing for them diminishes their value.

    Like

  8. Bernard Codrington. October 16, 2016 at 9:57 PM #

    Wuh loss Georgie .You is a Latin scholar too? Don’t you know it is bad manners to speak and write in a foreign language where there is no context to guess your meaning. Just joking!!!!!

    Like

  9. Georgie Porgie October 16, 2016 at 10:05 PM #

    BERNARD I HAVE SAID THAT HERE SEVERAL TIMES OVER THE YEARS
    WHAT I HAVE SAID AND WRITTEN, I HAVE SAID AND WRITTEN.

    AFTER 8 YEARS OF STELLAR MEDICAL TEACHING HERE ON BU, I THINK I DESERVE ONE OF THE BU RUM SHOP PRIZES

    Like

  10. Simple Simon October 16, 2016 at 10:20 PM #

    David pass ’round the hat man and let we collect a little something for Georgie P.

    Since there is an Ignobel prize:

    http://ignobel.com/ig/

    The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people LAUGH, and then THINK. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.
    Every September, in a gala ceremony in Harvard’s Sanders Theatre, 1100 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the new winners step forward to accept their Prizes. These are physically handed out by genuinely bemused genuine Nobel Laureates. Thousands more, around the world, watch our live online broadcast.
    CEREMONY: The 26th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony was held on Thursday, September 22, 2016, at Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

    there is no reason why we cannot have a BU Rumshop prize.

    Like

  11. Simple Simon October 16, 2016 at 10:24 PM #

    Excellent essay David Comissiong.

    Like

  12. Hal Austin October 17, 2016 at 3:33 AM #

    I repeat call I first made in one of my Notes From a Native Son – make Kamau Brathwaite Barbados’ Poet Laureate for life. This should be a 50th anniversary objective.

    Like

  13. charles skeete October 17, 2016 at 4:58 AM #

    “I don’t know what the procedure is for nominating a writer for the Nobel Prize, but I think that the time has come for us Caribbean people to do the necessary research and to launch a very public campaign of advocacy in pursuance of a collective people’s demand that Kamau Brathwaite be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.”

    There we go again cap in hand on bended knee back to the same slave master people who extoll the alleged virtues of the English and Western European culture and sneer at and denigrate virtually every non-White civilization, including our Caribbean civilization begging them to give we some kinda grammy award -like prize where the basis for selection remains a mystery as Mr Obama among others can testify. Pacha’s words should be instructive to us brassbowls-

    “The Nobel prize should mean nothing to us or be rightly seen as an institution of empire”

    God save the queen.

    Like

  14. David October 17, 2016 at 5:19 AM #

    Don’t we live in a world if we observe an injustice we should rail against it?

    Cap in hand what!

    Like

  15. Pachamama October 17, 2016 at 7:19 AM #

    @ David

    We should be more cautious when we, carte blanc, accept foreign standards as the only ones worthy of our best citizens, highest honours.

    And we already know that the Nobel Prize is political, immoral. We are highly disappointed that Comissiong, of all people, would so readily be a lap dog for the same international structures he otherwise challenges, and rightly.

    Even in the absence of standards set by us. Standards with ‘international’ acclaim. We should not recognize western prizes as the holy grail.

    Remember, it was Obama who got the Nobel peace prize and continued to give us 8 years of illegal wars, drone assassinations, killings of foreign leaders, support for terrorism and the brink of a nuclear war.

    We feel the say way about knighthoods and so on.

    Kamau Brathwaite could not possibly be himself if his work was predicated on western acceptance, western domination. But we have a whole list of Caribbean people whose genius would never attract western attention because they did not serve western interests.

    So the real question should be, are we slaves or are we free.

    Yes, and besides Bob Dylan there are many others who have good work. Works worthy of respect and we do. But is that the only or highest basis by which we should define ourselves?

    Like

  16. David October 17, 2016 at 8:26 AM #

    Google+ > > > Calendar > > Web > > more > Sent Mail > [Barbados Underground] Comment: “Nothing Against Bob Dylan, But Wha Bout > KAMAU?” > Bin > David > to comment+zra06rg-ybwzync8k0j132djw4m@comment.wordpress.com > 18 minutes ago > Details > > @Pacha > > A decent comment. If there is a flaw in the rational how the Nobel prize > is awarded we need to press for change. Justice is a universal ideal. And > yes a Caribbean award should have been implemented along time ago. This is > something our regionalists should be vigorously advocating. Then again we > have demonstrated we have no confidence in key regional entities read the > CCJ. >

    Like

  17. Pachamama October 17, 2016 at 8:37 AM #

    David

    That is only give the Nobel more prominence.

    It is only a private foundation which has too much power already.

    No!

    Like

  18. NDTewarie October 17, 2016 at 8:56 AM #

    What about me, Norman Datt, ?
    All poets matter!

    Like

  19. Vincent Haynes October 17, 2016 at 1:13 PM #

    charles skeete October 17, 2016 at 4:58 AM #

    There we go again cap in hand on bended knee back to the same slave master people who extoll the alleged virtues of the English and Western European culture and sneer at and denigrate virtually every non-White civilization, including our Caribbean civilization begging them to give we some kinda grammy award -like prize where the basis for selection remains a mystery as Mr Obama among others can testify. Pacha’s words should be instructive to us brassbowls-
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

    Truer words never spake.

    Like

  20. Simple Simon October 17, 2016 at 3:42 PM #

    @David Commissiong “I don’t know what the procedure is for nominating a writer for the Nobel Prize.”

    The procedure for nominating someone for the Nobel literature can be found here:

    https://www.nobelprize.org/nomination/literature/

    Nominations to the Nobel Prize in Literature can be made by qualified persons only.

    Qualified Nominators:
    The right to submit proposals for the award of a Nobel Prize in Literature shall, by statute, be enjoyed by:

    Members of the Swedish Academy and of other academies, institutions and societies which are similar to it in construction and purpose;
    Professors of literature and of linguistics at universities and university colleges;
    Previous Nobel Laureates in Literature;
    Presidents of those societies of authors that are representative of the literary production in their respective countries.

    Like

  21. Simple Simon October 17, 2016 at 3:55 PM #

    https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/prize_awarder/

    The Swedish Academy is composed of 18 members whose tenure is for life. Known as “De Aderton” (The Eighteen), current members of the Academy include distinguished Swedish writers, linguists, literary scholars, historians and a prominent jurist. Its working body is the Nobel Committee, elected from among its members for a three-year term.

    Like

  22. Simple Simon October 17, 2016 at 3:59 PM #

    @charles skeete October 17, 2016 at 4:58 AM “There we go again cap in hand on bended knee back to the same slave master…”

    No we don’t.

    I am sure that in Barbados we can find distinguished Bardian writers, linguists, literary scholars, historians and a prominent jurists. We pull toggether an Academy, and they go to work nominating Brathwaite or any other Barbadian writer whom WE think deserves the Nobel.

    Like

  23. Simple Simon October 17, 2016 at 4:02 PM #

    @charles skeete October 17, 2016 at 4:58 AM “There we go again cap in hand on bended knee back to the same slave master people…”

    And I don’t think that the Swedes had any big role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, or plantation slavery in Barbados.

    Like

  24. David Comissiong October 17, 2016 at 7:36 PM #

    As I indicated in the Release I would not expect the Nobel Committee to award Kamau– his work is too iconoclastic and un-compromising from their perspective. But I want to challenge them, in order to show up their double standards, or rather their lack of standards, and to embarrass them.

    Of course, I am all in favour of our Caribbean Civilization establishing its own honours and awards and lifting up and recognizing our own. No doubt a few such awards do exist, but not at the level to suggest that we are really serious and really respect ourselves and our outstanding achievers.

    Barbados is so fortunate to be able to claim national “ownership” of the likes of George Lamming , Kamau Brathwaite and Paule Marshall, but we are not making proper use of the tremendous bodies of work that the have tried to bestow upon us. Nor have we ever really given them the acclaim and respect that they deserve.

    DAVID COMISSIONG

    Like

  25. ac October 17, 2016 at 7:46 PM #

    David Comissiong. Maybe this is your first and last comment with which i might agree
    Any how well said

    Like

  26. charles skeete October 17, 2016 at 8:23 PM #

    “David October 17, 2016 at 5:19 AM #

    Don’t we live in a world if we observe an injustice we should rail against it?

    Cap in hand what!”

    is that the best you can do?

    Like

  27. David October 17, 2016 at 11:21 PM #

    This is not a game of one uppanship to see who can score debating points. To repeat, we are free to establish a regional awa:rd of excellence and at the same time challenge the rationale of any global award. It is called seeking justice. We can agree to disagree.

    Like

  28. Dompey October 18, 2016 at 5:37 AM #

    It is kinda funny how the perception is that our educational system surpasses most in region, and yet two St. Lucians have received the Nobel Prize thus far and no Barbadians have as yet.

    Like

  29. Pachamama October 18, 2016 at 7:45 AM #

    Kamau Brathwaite has no monopoly on being iconoclastic

    Being ‘too iconoclastic’ is a contrivance.

    Harold Pinter was given a similar award in 2005, he has been so described, variously

    In art this has to be a key determinant in giving the culture new understandings, meanings, a way forward.

    It must be characterized as an attack on cherished institutions, beliefs systems

    And only people willing to engage the necessary critiques can so be. It is a lonely path.

    While in fact, genius in all fields, must be so imbued.

    So the freshness of Kamua Brathwaite, to the existing systems of domination, is never really seen as a disqualifier

    Instead, from the view of the people awarding the Nobel Prize it is exactly what they want to incorporate, to nullify, to make irrelevant the burgeoning freshness which aims at changing power relationships. And these are why those standards must be avoided.

    Like

  30. Alvin Cummins October 20, 2016 at 12:08 PM #

    @ Dompey,
    Not true. We have a Nobel Laureate at the U>W.I. Cave Hill. Our problem is that we do not give enough attention to our own people when they achieve. Check and you will find out.

    Like

  31. David October 20, 2016 at 12:29 PM #

    @Alvin

    Surely you are not claiming Leonard Nurse Nobel prize he received as a member of a panel?

    http://sta.uwi.edu/news/releases/release.asp?id=60 > >

    Like

Join in the discussion, you never know how expressing your view may make a difference.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: