Letters to the Editor: A message for Caymanians

As I wallow in self-pity of the
radar, I reflect back on where my obsession with the social issues of these Islands

It was 1970 and I was unable to
find sleep as I lay in my bed in a room at the University of York, England. I
had gone from New York to Old York as an exchange student with several others
all of whom were Americans. That night I was forced to find an expression for
feelings and thoughts that had perhaps been brought about by the novelty of my
new experiences; and I began to write.

Writing is one way to preserve and
develop obsessions and although some have regarded writing as therapy, I have
had my doubts. I was thinking that night about me, my childhood on an island
time forgot; who had left the cradle of my culture at an age of 15, moving to
New York City. Now I was in Britain and I guess I was experiencing what some
call culture shock. That night I began searching the dairies of my mind and
began what later became, “Time Longer Dan Rope”.

During that first cold damp winter
at York, I met a young lady from Cornwall who the year before had been an
exchange student at an all girl college in America. She finished her studies
that summer and left York and I never saw nor heard from her again until just a
few months ago when she sent me an email. Like me she had become an academic
and had written books as she said she would. This doctor of literature is from
a small British community that is culturally oppressed by English culture and
society and had promised herself she would do something to help rebuild the
importance of her cultural heritage in the eyes of her people.

1970 to 2010 is a lifetime but she
used our new technology to look me up and we began to exchange concerns
especially about the earthquake victims in Haiti. I sent her a copy of “Time
Longer Dan Rope” and “Down Side Up”, and after reading them she decided to make
efforts to convince a friend who is in charge of the Cambridge International
exams, to use “Time” as one of the students’ exam text. If she succeeds or not,
it is good to know that life has continuity and purpose if we stay with our
dreams and our deeper values and aspirations. And it is good, especially in
these times to be uplifted by a person who values more than money; an
individual who knows it is hard but not disgraceful to value cultural products
as much as we value material products.

I did not attend the recent
International Conference at the University College of the Cayman Islands
because as I said to them I am preoccupied with survival issues; and also I am
again feeling that my country is in no way just or fair or even deserves my
many contributions. A quick read of this lady’s expose on “Time Longer Dan
Rope” suggested again to me, that I was awakened that night to be charged with
the responsibility of delivering a message to our people. Koolidge, one of the
main characters in the play said to Mr. Wilder the American businessman who
will sell the islands and I meant the people; “… and if we meet again I hope we
are on the same side”. Koolidge refused to change or adapt and toady there are
many Koolidges on our streets and in our jails. Some must say, but the violence
is between Caymanians and these are just tugs; but my vantage point from the
streets suggests an even more frightful meaning.

I encourage those that have not
read “Time” to pick up a copy and those that have seen the play, to read it or
reread it. This play tells so much about the cultural neurosis that now exists
in these Islands and predicts that this will get worse before it becomes
improved. Of course this play should have been used in our schools a long time
ago; but a prophet is never honoured in his own country. 

Although, I did not attend the
International Conference on culture and identity, I wish those that were there
to know that I have several plays that are not being performed because there
are few individuals and institutions that really care to discover about the
neurosis of the Caymanian soul. The second play in that publication, “Down Side
Up”, predicted the confusion and the violence in our hearts, in our minds and
in our souls.

Again, I was not talking about
everyone in my plays; however, I was talking about someone even if that someone
was me. And if I had to go back in time to that room at the University of York
I would not become anyone else than who I am and would not change anything I
started to remember in order to forget; or the passion with which I have said
what I have remembered. These are serious times; get a copy of “Time Longer Dan
Rope,” which was written in play form in 1979, nine years after it was began in
York England.  

Frank McField