Letters & Opinion

Why The Fear of Books?

Image of Kensley Peter Charlemange
Independent Eye by Kensley Peter Charlemange

SOMETIME ago I wrote an article headlined, “Are Saint Lucians stupid?” I have people who call themselves Christians not talking to me because of the article. My social experiment has gone on long enough and the obvious conclusion is Saint Lucians are stupid, as much as I wished it were otherwise. There is no manipulating the results.

It started when I left a secure job, teaching, to do, door-to-door sales. I remembered one of my aunts asking that I don’t speak to her when I see her on the streets. For some reason, we think that the Prime Minister is more important than the garbage collector.

Folly to me, I really thought that the people of Micoud South were smart enough not to elect Allen Chastanet into office. Stupid of me to hope for that. How stupid could I be?

The pinnacle of my assessment occurred on Wednesday of last week. The Saint Lucia Writers Forum published an anthology of poetry of which I was one of the contributors. I stood up outside Rodney Bay and the only thing I was missing to do was cry for Saint Lucia. I had to think that we are beyond redemption.

On that night, my heart ached because it was easy to tell who was Saint Lucian and who was not. They say if you want to keep a secret from a black person put, it in a book. I think this saying must have been birthed here.

So I am offering my book for sale and there goes my pitch line. “Hot of the press. Hot off the press!” And I have the book exposed. Oh, my! What a night it was! I even ended up calling a guy a dumb (animal from Montserrat given to us after that volcanic eruption). Lord, forgive me because You know I don’t under normal circumstances use that kind of language. So this person passes in front of me and mumbles, “You think you all won’t get work to do!” My, Lord. I will leave it there. The first sign to know that a person is a Saint Lucian is to watch the grimace on the face at the sight of a book. All the melanin is ready to drop off their black faces. Just watch them.

Then after about an hour, a young man comes to me takes the book, opens it and reads. He does not have the financial means to purchase and I knew that. But I said out loud, several times, “I have a lot of respect for this guy.” He did more than the government minister from that southwestern community did or that northern librarian did. He stopped. He asked. He showed curiosity. He even made a plan to get a copy.

And then another set would pass and remark, “At this hour (after 9 p.m.) you selling books?” But they have no problem with KFC which closes at 10:00 a.m. and till 1 a.m. on weekends.

Then another comes and mocks, “Hot off the press, hot off the press. Bouch-ou pa ka las?” I guess if I had stuck a gun to her throat that would have been much better.

Then there was this young lady who is always nice to me, always greets me and is ever so pleasant. She came out, asked to see the books and gave a few compliments. Pays for the book and leaves. And for the first time, I knew that she was not Saint Lucian. She returns to me a few minutes later and asks that I autograph the book for here. Of course I confirmed my suspicions. “You are not Saint Lucian are you?” She was from Barbados.

We kill the curiosity in our children to read. A mother passes with her two children, a girl and a boy. My pitch line catches their curiosity. OK. So maybe you are trying to get the supermarket open, so you can’t stop now but on the way back the children are still asking questions. The boy is most eager but you would not even stop at least to ask the name of the book or what this was all about.

OK. So the book cover reads, Opus Spectrum. The title is a little mystifying but I am not hoggish. All you had to do was ask but most of my Lucians would not even as much as look at the book. Those who stared were not Saint Lucians.

Oh what a night it was. I bet you all those justifying DSH have not read the contract. We are stupid and Allen knows it.

3 Comments

  1. So you think Lucians are stupid,eh, you try to sell a book
    with a Title like that, no takers, and you call St. Lucians stupid.
    You did a little Schooling,read some books, you wrote one,couldn’t
    sell (I think mainly because of the Latin title) then you think Lucians
    dumb and stupid, and stupid to elect Chastanet. Well as someone said
    “he is the Prime Minister, and you are not.” who now is the Stupid one?.

  2. Well written article. Perhaps it’s an endemic problem found within a huge portion of St.Lucia {or not?). Whatever the cause {and there’s a variety), it’s a problem that needs to be addressed. What’s the book about & how are sales going?

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