June 6, 2014
Tartah will fish no more

Last October, Nine months ago to be exact, ah was invited to Eric “Tartah” Browne’s ninety-fifth birthday party and ah had such ah grand time, dat my Article dat week was entitled “Ah want to be ah Nonagenarian,” meaning of course dat ah wanted to live to see me ninetieth birthday too. Interestingly dey were four Nonagenarians at de Party: “Mrs Carteel Trotman, still teking cash at her family business; Lady Clara Veira who has gone to de great beyond, Uncle Jim Veira is still around and de guest of honour Tartah Browne.”{{more}}

Dat night, Jules “Jewels” Ferdinand and Tartah Browne’s son and buddy, Ronald “Ron B” gave glowing tributes to him. We heard of de unending love of ah Father, Grand-father and Great Grand-father; de honesty and humility of ah Worker/Supervisor; de true meaning of ah friend and good near-bar who shares and cares. Tartah seemed pleasantly surprised to mingle one last time wid family and close friend foh many years. And almost everyone promised to be back in five years time when he would have reached “de ole-lady!”

Normally ah would see him on de road going or coming from fishing, ah think after de death of his beloved wife, fishing had become de major part ah his life, and Cane Garden Point was his fishing domain. He knew every good fishing spot along Cane Garden Rocks. He fished in accordance with traditional cultural practices: “what species ah fish fed where and ate what kind ah bait; how de tide ran, and during what phases ah de moon to fish. He would leave home when all else is asleep, seldom accepting ah ride, ah figure he preferred to walk foh de exercise. What his former near-bars Dug-he and, B.T Marksman was saying, is dat once Tartah gone fishing, family and near-bars uses to put dey pot pon fire and wait till he returns, he always caught fish. Tartah was blessed wid wha ole people does call: “fisherman’s luck”.

Ah noticed ah ain’t see him on de road foh ah few months. Ron was telling me dat in February, he went fixing ah leak on his house roof and may have injured his back, he took to his bed and everything went down-hill after dat. Yuh might ask, at 95 years of age what was he doing on his house roof, but “ah man’s got to do what ah man’s got to do.” His independence would not allow him to ask someone to fix ah lickle leak in his roof. He obviously waited till dey all went to wuk or school and took his chance, went up and fix his roof once and foh all!

Well de Big Fisherman has pulled in his line and hook, lean up his fishing rod in de corner, kick off his rubber boots and he done wid dat! Ley me pull ah clip from what ah wrote about him last year: “ When Tarter Browne goes fishing, if de water is rough, he ties one end of a rope around his waist, de other end around ah tree, just in case he gets washed off de rock….. what really surfaced at Choose-dey night get to-get-her, was de virtue of ah simple lifestyle and de Humility in Man. Tartah takes care of his kitchen garden, he lives to fish and at “95” he still walks from his home at Murray’s Road to Cane Garden Point, two miles away, to fish on de Rocks and catch nuff fish to feed de family.” It will be ah grand occasion up dey when Tarter Browne, our humble Fisherman meets Peter de biggest Fisher-of-man.


Lie-Za ask me if I honestly believe dat dey could ever have ah Motion on Reparation if it does not contain (in black and white) Clause 4: “To put on record its high regard and commendation to Prime Minister Dr. Rt. Hon Gonsalves in SVG, for his commitment to, and determination, in initiating the reparations conversation at the highest level of regional Government blab la bla.” Ah will bet is not Gone-Soft who put in dat clause. Dat is de-MAN-SAY-PAY-SHUN we can’t get over!

She reminds me dat Reparations was made big in song/ Kaiso back in 1985, by Mighty Chalkdust: “ Grandpa’s Backpay” way he stated his on de French creole dynasties from whom he was entitled to ‘back pay’ accruing from his grandfather’s underpaid labour in sugar cane and cocoa plantations. She is adamant dat Reparation and Restoration was always high on Agenda since 1930 by de Rastafarian Brethren, who adopted Marcus Garvey’s Fill-us-ah-fee. She heard Margaret London saying on “Night Nurse” dat de same Rasta Brethrens presented dey Reparations claim to Queen Betty in 2004 when she visited Jah-mek-her? She feel bad foh Senator Jomo who is now chairman of de newly formed Reparations Committee. She says dat Jomo gave birth in 2001, to de original SVG Reparations Movement in SVG, wid people like Joe Delves, Andre Liverpool, Curtis King and Sulle. Sulle won Kaiso Monarch wid his Kaiso “Reparations.” De same song dat was sung when de present Committee was launched last year. Lie-Za strongly feels dat yuh have to be ah certain class to get commendation foh being ah Pioneer, if yuh’re not, de Pull-it-tek-all vultures will steal yuh I-dare from yuh and market it like is dey’s. Let us build on one another, beginning by “Giving Jack his Jacket.” And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.