Writing from Barbados, which used to see itself as an English county (Bimshire), Adisa Andwele uncovers and celebrates an African Barbadian heritage of resistance and cultural creation, with its own heroes such as Bussa, Nannie Grigg and Clement Payne. But if Antiquity celebrates the survival of this heritage, despite the efforts of Barbados' former colonial and neocolonial rulers to bury or ignore it, it also warns, in urgent rhythms and striking images, of its threatened obliteration by the new forces of global/Americanised culture.
Antiquity has two sections: 'Words', which brings together poems written over the past twenty years, and 'Chants', which includes the songs AJA has been performing to enthusiastic audiences across the Caribbean, North America, Europe and South Africa. These are poems and songs of a radical Black consciousness, Barbadian to the core, but reaching out to chant down injustice and economic oppression wherever they exist.
Whilst readers have begun to be familiar with the reggae influenced nation-language poetry of Jamaica or the calypso influenced poetry of Trinidad, the cultural grass-roots of Barbados have received little exposure. In this collection, a celebration of Barbadian nation-language, the rhythms of its music and its distinctive African-derived culture, Adisa Andwele changes all that.
Adisa Jelani Andwele is AJA, one of the leading performance poets in the Caribbean, and an outstanding jazz trombonist. He was born and lives in Barbados.