Dr. Fraser- Point of View
November 22, 2013
The transfer of Glebe lands – the background

The “Glebe Barrouallie” Project, involved much more than the transfer of land. It was an integrated development project aimed at developing the area and transforming the lives of the people. As far as I was concerned, the transfer of lands which prompted the development project in the first place was not only the most important plank, but was central to the success of the total project. Some families were capable of doing the reconstruction of their own homes. What they wanted was a title to their lands to allow them to deal with the financial institutions. A great deal of scepticism had arisen because of the promises that had been made over the years about providing freehold titles.{{more}} I left the project at the end of 1981, and when I returned in 1986, persons had still not gotten titles to the lands on which they had lived for years.

As I look at my papers relating to the “Glebe” project, some things stand out. In a report I did in 1980 I stated “The Glebe lands have not as yet been turned over to the Christian Council because the Anglican Church has not yet received the Glebe plan indicating the area to be transferred. The plan has been completed but has a small error which has to be corrected…” There were initially some problems with the survey arising from the fact that some persons had built on areas designated as roads. This was not major, however, because the houses were so constructed as to be easily moved. In facts when we built a paved road in what used to be a track called Zig Zag, this involved removing two homes to other spots. A Peace Corps worker had even come in to speed up the survey.

But other things might have been responsible for the delay in the transfer of the lands. I quote now from a memo I did on October 12, 1980. “…Certainly many of the bottlenecks arose because the Council has shown little interest in the Scheme. At meetings of the Council which I attended in order to discuss the Scheme, very little time was devoted to it. Memos to the Council go unattended and there is little help given or interest shown. The ease with which the Council has been able to get action on the building of some houses … in the North Windward area, and the cooperation of officials and the ready response of Government surely raise questions as to why the same effort has not been put into the Glebe, Scheme.”

There was more to it, however. When I resigned my job at the Grammar School and took up the position at the “Glebe,” some persons could not understand why I would want to leave a pensionable position for one that was not pensionable. The thought of someone wanting to make a contribution to the town in which he was born never crossed their minds. Instead, many believed I did it because I wanted to be a candidate at the next general election. Although I had sensed this from some things that were said, it did not become clear to me until my mother started getting calls, urging her not to allow me to become politically involved and to contest the election. This was not only farcical, but amusing. It was as though they believed that if I had decided on that path my mother was in a position to stop me or would even have wanted to. As I reflect on this I realise that this is something that has haunted my adult life, that is, persons always assuming some political motive to whatever I do or say. There are other examples not related to the “Glebe,” but that’s another story. What is so pathetic about all of this is that I am not the one who suffers. The persons whom they claim to want to assist are the ones who become victims of this absurdity. It might have been that there were other issues and problems regarding the transfer of lands. I do not know, but if there were they could not have been of such magnitude that they couldn’t be easily addressed.

I was able to get some work done in the area, assisting persons with the reconstruction of their homes, developing small income generating projects, including a toy making project from local resources. A great deal of work was done with the farmers, women and youths. For all of this, I got ready assistance from different groups and people. I recall Nelcia Robinson working with the young women, the Farmers’ Union which some of the farmers had joined, ORD; Jules Ferdinand, who was director of the Liberty Lodge Boys Training School, a Diamond Community Group and a few others. The Caribbean Conference of Churches through CADEC saw the project as one that would have informed other projects that they were hoping to start in the region. A number of international development agencies, many of them Church related, had indicated an interest in the project; one agency I remember was the German Development Institute. When a Community Centre was built in the area by the young people, there was at least one occasion when young people from different Caribbean countries came and assisted. It is a pity that things did not work out as they were supposed to have. The Glebe area would have been a shining example not only for Barrouallie, but for the rest of the country and maybe, region.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.