Dr Susanna's guide to

click here

www.MJoTAtalks.org click here

www.drsusanna.org click here

Dr Susanna loves the countries and the peoples of Africa
Dr Susanna in Antigua and Barbuda, Oct and Nov 2011

Nov 15, 2011

Antigua & Barbuda. Who is Antiguan? Not a simple answer.

When enslaved humans were freed in 1836, the sudden drop in free labor sent sugar plantation owners to South Carolina where they could still buy descendants of Africans seized in an illegal, undeclared war against the African continent.

The plantation owners that remained lacked manpower for the sugar fields, so lots and lots of Portuguese arrived to work and married locals. Meanwhile Antigua is a small island easily accessible by boat from other islands. Most people I have talked to have come themselves from other islands, or a parent or 2 has.

What is amazing to me is that Antigua has never seen military action since the British seized it illegally. The one attempt was the attempted revolution led by Prince Klass, a Ghanaian who had been enlaved. That was in 1736, the plans of the revolution were told by people whose despair was great, and Prince Klass and his warriors were publicly, horribly tortured, executed and dismembered.

Not only did the Portuguese show up and settle, and on Remembrance Day, the Consul of Portugal laid a wreath on the memorial; but also the Irish. The Irish were treated badly by the British (they were always treated badly by the British), and so they too married the locals. Then the Syrians and Lebanese showed up and started shops, which continue to prosper. And they are Antiguan. So Antiguans are a mix of African, Irish, Portuguese, Africans from other islands, Syrians, Lebanese, and probably British.

So the question of whether the names on the war memorial are those of Antiguans remains unanswered.


Antigua & Barbuda. My last night here, sob, with the huge St Bernard sitting at my feet watching the sky past the palm trees (I bonded with him), my hair braided with tiny tiny braids that took all day and several life stories (her daughter needs to get faster than 5minutes for 1500m, but she is only 15, and the 13yo plays killer tennis: I bonded with this Antiguan-Jamaican family), looking at the West Indies Anglican hymnal (I bonded with the folks at St John's Cathedral), and thinking about diabetes (I bonded with the health folks) and health programming for zoomradiofm.com.

What a beautiful country; how can the misdeeds of one person, Mr Allen Stanford, be allowed to destroy so many jobs? He was the second biggest employer in Antigua, after the Government.

Nov 13, 2011

Antigua & Barbuda. Remembrance Day service.

The services and the veterans were out in force, plus the Red Cross, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts.

The Anglican Dean led the service, standing next to the Prime Minister and the Governor General. Wreaths laid by the lady Governor General first, then the PM, then the consuls. Wreaths from Portugal, Italy, China, UK. One from the US Airforce. Antiguans were on the ground in the Grenadian conflict, and have fought in all (?) the US wars. I am finding out more. Beautiful, dignified ceremony.

"At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them." They didn't read that, but I said it quietly in front of the monument.

After the service, when I came back to Zoomradiofm.com studio, I discovered that the military is the smallest in the world, with 245 in service. I am realizing I saw them all, the whole military, today. They have fought in active wars, aside from enlisting when in the UK and in the US.

But usually they do things that the military does when no-one is firing at them. Peace work. God bless them all.

Nov 11, 2011

Armistice Day. When the leading war merchants met in a train carriage and signed the agreement to end the war to end all wars, November 11, 1918. Guy Dodgson died 3 days later of his wounds. His older brother, a Cambridge graduate named Francis but always called Toby, had been killed in 1916; the remaining middle brother, Philip survived a head wound that knocked his ability to use his Cambridge education. They were my grandfather Hubert Dodgson's cousins. Hubert married a war widow 2 months after the war ended; she had been the wife of a prominent Scottish portrait painter, Campbell Lindsay Smith. War sucks. Armistice story on click here.

I have been in Antigua & Barbuda for 2 weeks, and have met quite a few people in public and private offices. I found a lovely story from a local Antiguan paper about a quiet, honest, hard-working woman, Mrs Genevieve Williams. She has been loyal and constant. Beautiful.  Click here.

I wonder if anything is better than watching a full moon and Venus through palm trees. With a black St Bernard sleeping in the doorway. Listening to gospel music playing in a church back somewhere, and crickets, and kids calling out to each other. While searching for information about solar film and collapsed credit unions (a lot, even this month). And eating fresh pineapple and drinking tea. I love having no-one talking back to me. Occasionally Samson ambles over so I can pat his head.

Nov 2, 2011

St John's, Antigua & Barbuda. In 1979, shortly after I came to Philly as a post-doctoral fellow in the Faculty of Medicine, School of Physiology, I lived in a house with a young veterinary student. We were at the Jersey shore in the summer, and we watched a dog run away, his owner scream at him, he come to the owner and the owner bash him. My friend, since 1981 known as Dr Susan M Daly, shook her head, "he will never come to him again."

I remembered that this morning. I have been sharing a compound with a big black St Bernard dog, whose main interaction with me is to back off when I am around. Today he followed me to the front gate, and leaped through the gate when I opened it. I followed him, tried to head him off, but he ran further.

Then I remembered Dr Day's words. I told him he was a good boy, and backed off completely. I opened the gate wide and stood near it, but out of his way. After 10 minutes, he was tired of sniffing grass and palm tree stumps, and ambled back inside.

So I gave him one of my precious stash of canned fish, and left for a walk.

When I came back, he came up to me, and let me touch his nose. Wow.

Oct 28, 2011.

At 6.30am, I fly from JFK airport ahead of the earliest bad snowstorm in recorded history. My favorite Dominican Jean Joseph is on the plane. I tell her it is her fault I am going to Antigua, I had thought about going to Dominica. Next time, she said!

At 10am I land in Puerto Rico, and spend the day enjoying watching palm trees sparkle and wave in the tropical sunshine and island breezes. At 10pm I land in Antigua, and am greeted by Mali Olatunji, who is a host of Zoomradiofm, and an artist with a long career as a photographer of fine art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan; and Patrick Dore, station manager of Zoomradiofm, who had a long career as a telecommunications engineer in New York City.

Oct 29, 2011

I am in the studio of Zoomradiofm, chatting with Mali on air about social issues. At 11am, I introduce the weekly health program of African Views, African Health Dialogues. We have some technical difficulties because I dont know how to seamlessly integrate live blogtalkradio with the mixer and sound equipment at Zoomradiofm. I have difficulty interacting with the guests and co-host Dr Ladi Owolabi, later I listened to the African Views podcast. My voice sounds distant, but all the other callers are loud and clear.

In the cool afternoon, I walk to the beach, past cormorants and horses, and wade in the warm Caribbean Sea which washes onto pink sand.

In the evening I am back in the studio, and get to chat with hosts Austin and Mali, and Mali's guest, journalist Frank. We have a spirited discussion about the many uses and criminalization of hemp. Frank claims that deforestation could be eliminated with use of hemp for paper manufacture. Go for it, I say!

The night winds down with Austin's beautiful calypso music. Every 30 minutes he says something, like who won the football game being played in St John's, or a comment on how New York City alerts has told residents to stay away from parks because branches have been broken by the heavy snow and are falling down.