Ackee and saltfish: According to the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage, an ackee is a “pear-shaped fruit, splitting in three when ripe and disclosing three shiny black seeds attached to a cream-coloured flesh which is edible”(Allsopp 9). It is also said to have a toxic element, which can lead to death.
This fruit was imported into Jamaica in the late eighteenth century, and was first taken to England by Captain Bligh in 1793. Hence its scientific name “Blighia sapida”.
Ackee is normally eaten with salt cod, and is prepared with onions, black peppers, pimiento and tomatoes. It can be accompanied by breadfruit, plantain, boiled bananas and dumplings. It is normally considered as food you have for breakfast.
The saltfish in “ackee and saltfish” refers to the salted and dried cod that was imported either from Canada or from Boston in the period of slavery, and which was “standard food for slaves” (Allsopp 485). As a consequence, until the 1960s, ackee and saltfish was not vey popular as a dish, because of its association with slavery.
In 1962 Jamaica became independent and was faced with the task of defining its national culture and choosing national symbols which could unite the nation. The motto chosen by the new Jamaican nation was “Out of Many One People”, which reflected the emerging creole multiracial ideology of the day. The doctor bird became the national bird and the lignum vitae the national flower. Ackee became Jamaica’s national fruit, probably because of its historical associations with slavery and the middle passage.
After independence, ackee became a potent symbol of Jamaican identity and is today considered as a true marker of one’s Jamaicanness. In Modern Blackness, Deborah A. Thomas interviewed many Jamaicans about what makes a person really Jamaican. One of the important factors was eating ackee and saltfish, which was put on the same level as reggae music and speaking patois (Thomas 1).
Ackee is an important marker of a person’s Jamaicanness because only “real” Jamaicans know how to prepare it as it can also be poisonous if not properly cooked. There are proverbs and riddles about the danger of eating ackee. For instance, the following riddle warns against cooking ackee before the fruit has opened: “Mi fader send me out to pick out a wife; tell me to take only those that smile, fe those that do not smile wi’ kill me” (Rashford 190). When the ackee opens, it reveals black seeds and reminds one of someone smiling.
The ackee fruit features in many riddles, songs like “Linstead Market” and proverbs, and is thus an important element in the Jamaican oral tradition.
In Britain, it is an important symbol and cultural marker for the Black British community and is normally available in tins. The Jamaican chef Levi Roots, who became very popular after starting his “Reggae Reggae sauce” and appearing on the Dragon’s Den TV programme, has contributed to making ackee and saltfish popular with a British audience which now associates this dish with reggae music as Roots is also a reggae musician and has used Jamaican music to market his products. (ED)
Allsopp, Richard. Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1996.
Cassidy, Frederick G. Jamaica Talk: Three Hundred Years of the English Language in Jamaica. Kingston : University of the West Indies Press, 2007.
Rashford, John H. “Those that Do Not Smile Will Kill Me . The Ethnobotany of the Ackee in Jamaica”. Economic Botany. Vol.55, N° 2, April-June 2001.
Thomas, Deborah A. Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization and the Politics of Culture in Jamaica. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2004.
Anzac Day, which has been celebrated on 25 April in Australia and New Zealand since 1920, commemorates the participation of Australian and New Zealand troops in WWI alongside other Allied forces. More specifically, it recalls the landing of troops on 25 April 1915 at Gallipoli (Turkey), where they were to stay for several months, fighting in vain to dislodge the Turks from their positions, until they were evacuated on 19-20 December after sustaining considerable losses (26,111 casualties and 8,141 deaths where Australian troops are concerned). In military terms, the whole episode was an unmitigated failure, and had no impact on the Allies’ progress in the war. Why, then, is it that, in the words of historian Geoffrey Blainey, ‘More than any other military campaign, Gallipoli captures the imagination of Australians’? Why is Anzac Day the object of such heartfelt national celebration, sometimes appearing more significant than Australia Day itself as a national day?
Australia entered WWI with considerable enthusiasm, despite some dissenting voices which held that the war was an issue for European powers. Most Australians felt a genuine sense of kinship with Britain – many of them, like Prime Minister Andrew Fisher, had been born there – and felt duty-bound to repay the favours they had received from the mother-country. Fisher’s emotional pledge to help Britain ‘to our last man and our last shilling’ exemplifies this attitude. Besides, to many young Australian men, going to war seemed a splendid adventure which they were keen not to miss. More importantly, perhaps, it was an opportunity to demonstrate their mettle.
As ‘colonials’, Australians tended to look to their British ‘cousins’ as the measure of all that was good and brave. How did they themselves measure up? Where bravery was concerned, prowess in war was held to separate the men from the boys. Some Australians had fought in British wars, in New Zealand, the Sudan or South Africa, but these were colonial wars where the enemy was regarded as either black savages or backward white farmers (the Boers) rather than regular soldiers. Facing some of the best European armies such as the Germans or the Turks would be a much more significant test of antipodean manhood.
Although the Allied troops were not able to carry out the mission assigned to them, their bravery under fire was noted, especially where the Australians and New Zealanders were concerned. War correspondent Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett singled out the courage of those who had been wounded early on:
The courage displayed by these wounded Australians and New Zealanders will never be forgotten. […] They were happy because they knew they had been tried for the first time, and had not been found wanting.
This report, and others of similar tenor, became a great source of pride Down Under. The baptism of fire had brought respectability, if not victory, to the colonials. Australia and New Zealand could be proud of their sons’ courage. Their sacrifice redeemed the country’s ‘birthstain’ – its convict origins, which were still a source of shame.
The Australian soldier, affectionately referred to as ‘Anzac’ (the acronym of ‘Australia and New Zealand Army Corps’) or ‘Digger’, became a heroic figure, admired for his physical and moral qualities. His resourcefulness, his practice of mateship and his democratic spirit made him an unusual, effective, and very Australian, kind of soldier.
In Australia’s cultural mythology, the Anzac became the embodiment of national manliness, a figure linking the ‘noble’ bushman of the 1890s and the intrepid life saver of modern times in an unbroken chain of particularly Australian gallantry. Even the fact that Gallipoli was a military failure was turned to good use, with British politicians and officers being blamed for sacrificing Australian lives in an ill-conceived and poorly executed operation in which the virtues of the Anzacs shone all the brighter for the adversity they faced. It is often said that Australia ‘came of age’ at Gallipoli and that this baptism of fire ushered a proud new nation onto the world stage. ‘I think the enthusiasm about Gallipoli’, historian John Hirst said, ‘can be explained in part because this was the moment when we shook off the cultural cringe and our soldiers were as good as Britain’s, and perhaps later in the war they were even better’ (quoted in Colvin). The grand narrative of Gallipoli originated with C.E.W. Bean’s The Anzac Book rather than the official history of the war which he part wrote and part edited. The Book was a huge best seller and largely determined how Australians viewed the events at Gallipoli. The Anzac legend, Michael Davie wrote, ‘was an artificial creation, deliberately and to some extent dishonestly created by one man’. Indeed Bean took pains to emphasize the heroic side of the diggers’ behaviour, at the expense of a far less glorious side which was no less a reality. Not all Anzacs were keen to risk their lives to attack the Turks: there was a greater than usual proportion of malingerers and deserters among them ‘the diggers were 10 times more likely than other allied troops to go absent without leave, or to desert… there were more malingerers among the Australians than in the other armies’ (Elder). Besides, the Australian version of the legend would lead one to think that the Turks faced no other enemy than the Australians – the role of the British, French, Italian and even New Zealand soldiers is underplayed, or omitted altogether. Despite its distortions of reality, the Anzac legend has retained its appeal to this very day, and has turned Gallipoli into an Australian sacred site. How can one explain its supposed relevance to contemporary Australia?
The significance of Anzac Day
In the 1950s and 60s the Anzac Day celebrations attracted fewer and fewer participants, and a good deal of criticism, as exemplified in Alan Seymour’s 1960 play The One Day of the Year, in which the day is presented as a mere pretext for men to get drunk and gamble their money away (the game of Two-up, which the diggers used to play, being condoned on that day only). And the presiding spirit of the celebrations (the preserve of the ultra-conservative Returned Soldiers’ League) was denounced as militaristic and sexist. In recent years, however, as the number of surviving diggers dwindled and was eventually reduced to zero, a passion for celebrating Anzac Day was rekindled, with thousands of young Australians making the pilgrimage to Gallipoli in order to attend the dawn service on April 25. This new-found fervour has been explained in rather contradictory ways. After observing that ‘it is no longer intellectually fashionable to mock returned soldiers and the memories they honour’, conservative commentator Gerard Henderson argued that the main reason for the change was ‘the demise of the left after the end of the Cold War.’ On the other hand Tim Soutphommasane contended that under PM John Howard (1996-2007) ‘Patriotism […] became the preserve of right-wing ideological zealots’, so that patriotism had to be reclaimed by those who opposed Howard’s conservatism, and participating in the Anzac Day celebrations was a way of doing just that. Novelist David Malouf has suggested additional reasons, such as the greater distance from the events themselves, so that Anzac ‘begins to have about it an aura of mystery we cannot penetrate and which, precisely for that reason, has a strong pull on our imagination and on our feelings.’ Anzac Day, Malouf further suggested, resonates with deeply cherished, identity-defining Australian values such as mateship and an ideal of service which also finds expression in bushfire brigades, surf lifesaving clubs, social and charitable organisations.’ In similar vein, the newspaper The Australian asserted that ‘The core Australian ideals – equality of opportunity, sticking by your mates, the universal right to equal treatment and justice, encapsulated as a “fair go”, and a refusal to be mindlessly bound by tradition and hierarchy – found their definitive expression in World War I’ (editorial, The Australian, 24 April 2003). Not everyone shares this view, however, and academic Helen Irving argued that ‘Australia’s nationhood was not forged at Gallipoli. Neither was Australia’s identity. It was not a coming of age. Neither was it a baptism. Nor any of the other clichés we hear repeated at this time of the year’. What is beyond dispute, though, is the current appeal of Anzac Day for young (and not so young) Australians, which is perhaps another case of myths easily trumping facts. (XP)
Hede, Anne Marie & Rentschler, Ruth, (eds), Reflections on Anzac Day, Heidelberg, Vic.: Heidelberg Press, 2010.
Lake, Marilyn. & Reynolds, Henry, What’s wrong with Anzac? the militarisation of Australian history, Sydney: New South, 2010.
Cameron, David W., 25th April 1915 – the Day the Anzac Legend Was Born, Sydney, Allen & Unwin, 2007.
King, Jonathan, Gallipoli diaries: the Anzacs’ own story day by day, Pymble, Simon & Schuster, 2008.
Malouf, David, ‘Anzac Day in the Australian Ethos’ An address given at Georgetown University on 28 April 2003.
Pavils, Janice Gwenllian, Anzac Day: the undying debt, Adelaide: Lythrum Press, 2007.
[7783 caractères, espaces non compris]
The Group of Seven was a Canadian organization of painters founded in 1920, after the Canadian Art Club. Breaking away from their predecessors, they adopted a nationalistic view depicting the beauty of Canadian nature. Those painters specialized in landscape painting and “developed a doctrine and a style of painting based on the idea that Canadian art could find sufficient sustenance in Canada alone” (Reid 135). The members of the Group of Seven asserted the supremacy of Canadian subject matter for Canadians and they invented a new distinctive visual language. They also had social intentions and claimed “that Art must grow and flower in the land before the country will be (sic) a real home for its people” (Reid 146).
The first members were Franklin Carmichael (1890-1945), Lawren Harris (1885-1970), Alexander Young Jackson (1882-1974), Franz Johnston (1888-1949), Arthur Lismer (1885-1969), James Edward Hervey MacDonald (1873-1932) and Frederik Horsman Varley (1881-1969). Tom Thomson was included in their circle before the beginning of the Group but he died in 1917. In 1926 Alfred Joseph Casson (1898-1992) joined the Group and replaced Franz Johnston who only participated in the first exhibition in 1920. Lionel LeMoine Fitzgerald (1890-1956) exhibited with the Group of Seven in 1930 and joined them just before the Group disbanded. Fitzgerald was then a founding member of the Canadian Group of Painters.
The renewal of landscape painting
The landscapes of the Group of Seven were more than physical representations of nature. There was a philosophical and often spiritual dimension to them. Lawren Harris had become a member of the theosophical movement and his paintings expressed a spiritual aspiration conveyed by the representation of the energy of Canadian landscapes, particularly mountains and lakes. First widely criticized by some art critics, the Group, at the moment of their last exhibition in 1931, had become the “national” school of art for the broad public. The fact that the painters illustrated calendars or made posters for the Pacific Railway Company contributed to their fame while showing the role of the relations between a great school of painting and popular culture. Their influence was so important that landscape paintings inspired by their coloured style flourished after their disbanding, as they had renewed the art of landscape painting, by using several influences: European Art nouveau and Scandinavian painting in which they found that coloured energy so characteristic of their works. Their visionary landscapes enhanced the spirituality that was to inspire other painters. They introduced colours and geometry as a representation of vital energy in nature.
The role of exhibitions
Associated to the Group a little later, Emily Carr (1871-1945) met the Group of Seven in 1927. She was interested in the art of the First Nations and had visited many Kwakiutl villages in British Columbia to paint their totems. Dreading the gradual disappearance of the arts of the First Nations she wanted to make visual archives of totem poles before they disappeared. An ethnologist brought her paintings to the attention of the Canadian Museum of Arts in Ottawa, which had foreseen an exhibition about Native art in November 1927. She was invited to participate in the exhibition where she met Harris and the other members of the Group of Seven who regarded her as their equal. The idea of the organizers was to allow the meeting between Native arts and the most recognized modern painters in Canada. Coincidentally the same year in Paris an exhibition in the Surrealist Gallery juxtaposed works by Yves Tanguy and Native American objects among which Haida poles. Painting appeared more than ever as a way of linking cultures. Emily Carr unceasingly painted the presence of Native Indians in the Canadian landscape and allowed a symbolical meeting between the arts of the First Nations and modern painters.
One can note the role of exhibitions in the evolution and transformations of Canadian landscape painting. They also determined cultural relations between the artists of European descent and the First Nations, and between the European countries outside the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth itself. Some of those artists were first influenced by European painting as some of them had lived in Europe or had travelled to Europe for personal reasons. Thus Harris, who had studied art in Berlin, was first influenced by German painting and Emily Carr by French art. And it is an exhibition of Scandinavian paintings that acted as a revelation to Harris and MacDonald, who changed their style and invented that modern landscape painting that was to characterize the Group of Seven and transform landscape painting in Canada. It is also an exhibition that allowed the meeting between Harris and Carr. In fact the first influences coming from artists outside the Commonwealth paradoxically led them to assert a nationalistic view of landscapes as they chose their subjects exclusively in the Canadian world. They were the first artists of European origin who painted Arctic landscapes, and that evolution in modern art was made possible thanks to the galleries and museums that organized exhibitions; the Canadian Museum of Arts in Ottawa organizing the one on Scandinavian painting was to spark off a new way of painting landscapes.
Cultural relations between artists and galleries outside and within the Commonwealth brought a fundamental transformation in the art of landscape painting in Canada. That kind of painting, which claimed to represent nationalistic values at the beginning, was the illustration of the circulation of aesthetic ideas and philosophical or spiritual perceptions of landscapes. The Group of Seven, even if they first wanted to represent Canadian landscapes exclusively, chiefly meant to represent “nature […] in all its greatness” (Varley, in Reid 139), nature “here” in Canada, but nature representing the same vital energy as the Scandinavian nature they had seen at the exhibition that had introduced them to a new way of seeing. Their landscape paintings are at the crossroads of European painting (Art Nouveau design, French post-impressionism), Scandinavian landscape painting, national representation and, as far as Emily Carr is concerned, First Nations’ Art. Far from appearing in a reductive way as nationalist representations, their works open onto a reflexion on the relationship between man and space and the place of man in nature, wherever in the world. FB
CARR, Emily. Hundreds and Thousands. The Journals of Emily Carr, Toronto, Va,couver: Clarke, Irwin and Company Limited, 1966.
HARRIS, Bess and R.G.P. COLGROVE, eds. Lawren Harris, Toronto: MacMillan of Canada, 1969.
MacDonald, Thoreau. The Group of Seven, Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1944.
MELLEN, Peter. The Group of Seven, Toronto: MacCleland and Stewart, 1970.
O’Brian, John andPeter WHITE. Beyond Wilderness: The Group of Seven, Canadian Identity, and Contemporary Art, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007.
Reid, Dennis. A Concise History of Canadian Painting, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1973.
[6052 caractères, espaces non compris]