Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The day Black Panther SOLD OUT 3 screenings and made history at Genesis Cinema East in London

Though it's a while after the historic event, this post is recorded belatedly for posterity.

Tony Warner of Black History Walks invited me back in November or December last year to take part in the Q&A for the well-anticipated release of the Black Panther movie. I was apprehensive because I'm not a comic bookie - or even Marvel fan - though I'd seen the various MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) films - including the Avengers with the fabulous entry of Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and the promise then of a stand-alone film with him in the role. I had also taught genre fiction briefly but the main premise for my participation was that I could speak to the elements of spirituality in the film. That initial invite was for one screening for a weekend showing and another was arranged for a weekday screening.

That first one sold out in a few days. Tony pressed - yes he had to press them - to organise a second screening. Tony knew how popular the film would be and wanted to ensure as many people get to see the film as possible. That second screening sold out within hours of being advertised. We're talking 600 seater screens. By now, sniffing the loot and magnitude of the film the cinema pressed - yes they pressed Tony to organise a third screening. That too sold out within hours. I now have to do 3 Q&As on the same day! This was days after its general release - on Sunday 18th March. This 3 times watching, 3 times Q&A on the same day in itself was a record for me - and I'm sure Tony and Terry Jervis with whom we'd share the panel.

Africans take over the cinema

Since the premier a few days earlier it was clear something super special was out there. And Africans were ON IT. For the numbers of critiques (some truly vitriolic, I must say) of the film by some worthy commentators, there were thousands more that were hyping positively about it. Brothers and sisters were shedding tears for seeing what was being described as 'an experience' rather than a film. Some were ecstatic to see a predominantly African cast, they hadn't seen that before - not like this, not in such a positive way. Hollywood has given Africans slavery, nothing before or progressive and positive after, as our history and experience on film. Representationally, this was different - and Africans needed it. An instant movement and developed in cinematic history - central to this was the cult of Wakanda, spurred by the shared images of Africans dressing up to do see the film.


On the 18th February, swarms of beautifully dressed African men, women and children turned up for the 3 screenings at Genesis. I had seen comments floating around about 'how they going on like this, wearing dashiki's and so on just for a movie.' But the movement was in swing - most people went for it. As did I. My best friend (Kathy Nanena), a makeup artist, who is also handy with a sewing machine to create costumes made a glitzy necklacey thing for me with matching cuff braces. She also body painted her son's friend (Agui Mansilla), who does bodybuilding to play Black Panther. She had no idea about the Black Panther film but observed Lupita N'yongo and the other sisters from the film and how glam they looked - she wanted to glam me up too for the Q&A. Agui had asked me what he would do on the day - as it was my suggestion he came as a kind of 'mascot.' I said just 'be.' As soon as he entered the cinema - he was mobbed. I can't print some of the things women whispered in his ear as they posed for pictures with him. But I shall never forget the glee on those young children's faces as they waited and then posed for their pictures of a superhero that looked like them.

The cinema was inundated with Africans. By their admission, they had never had so many Africans through their doors. In fact, they had never had such large numbers ever for a single film in their entire history. One of the managers, who was there for the 3 successive screening told me - 'it was the best event they had ever had there.' She called it 'event' because that's what it was.

Renaldo and Vanessa La Rose of New Beacon Books
Agui Mansilla ('Black Panther') and Kathy Nanena (Makeup artist)

Some thoughts on the film


I had been doing Guyana/Caribbean style shouts at the screen during the film. I'd also observed audience responses to the scenes. Most responded to was - 'don't scare me like that coloniser' a wonderfully delivered line by Letitia Wright (Shuri); the gorilla blowing at the 'coloniser' (CIA agent! Martin Freeman/Ross) and then 'you do not speak' a line equally well delivered by Winston Duke, a scene which was superbly complemented when he laughs following the vegetarian joke - a natural, spontaneous laughter that they kept in.

Contrasting the light laughter stuff were those scenes with Erik Kilmonger (Michael B Jordan) where line after line it was impossible to regard him as an enemy (or supervillain). You can find ample discussions, critiques, essays on his supposed 'revolutionary character' being 'killed' in preference to the seeming UN/CIA 'friend' T'Challa (Boseman), so I'm not about to add/take away from those discussions because I think there is some measure of validity in each of them. What I don't agree with is that the film fails as a revolutionary document BECAUSE of this! Not too many of us have experienced actual revolutions - yet we seem sure we know how writers should depict them through the propaganda tool that is Hollywood. I think much more interesting feats are notable from the film - not least that it has smashed sales records across the world within its first weekend of general release. It is now the 'biggest moneymaker among superhero movies in the US.' It has also reached so many Africans who can see themselves in the complex and dynamic ways we are. We are not opposites, but composites. We are in some ways reflected in the axis tilt when Kilmonger has won the thrown in combat with T'Chala - recall that scene?

It is impossible to despise Kilmonger and wish him dead (or hurt or some such one would anticipate for the film's antagonist) because he speaks our thoughts and feelings. He is hurt, as we are hurt. He is angry as we are justifiably angry. He wants to see the sunset of his African homeland and resents the fact he has had to face the darkness of his trauma alone. We've yet to get the backstory about his mother and other family members in the US - otherwise, the character in this instance is not unlike Bigger Thomas as created by Richard Wright, about which James Baldwin had some interesting things to say in his essay 'Many Thousands Gone.' At least, we get one side of his family (the elite royals from whom he'd been estranged through no fault of his own), but what about his family, extended or otherwise in the US? What happened to him after his father was killed?

Film producer Terry Jervis with Agui Mansilla

Tony Warner with 'Black Panther'/ Agui Mansilla

It's difficult to align with T'Chala because, as Boseman said in one of the many interviews he has done since the release of the film, he, T'Chala 'was born with a vibranium spoon in his mouth.' We were struggling to properly 'identify' with him, given that privilege is not the experience of many Africans. We have to reconcile our issues with elites and royalty who hold power and can, therefore, decide to pursue the process that revolution is or choose to 'reform' which would give concessions that might be detrimental to African sovereignty. That said, I doubt Kilmonger is dead for real! There must be scope for him returning to the MCU sequences - with a backstory (the US family, for example); they've done this before in the MCU repertoire so it's possible.

From a spiritual and gender perspective I felt it when he killed his sister-lover then through his spiritual and cultural ignorance killed the spiritual leader of Wakanda (Zuri/Forest Whitaker - even though Zuri violated the protocol and interrupted the fight sequence with T'Chala), then grabbed by her neck, Zuri's successor (another sister) and flings her across the sacred sanctuary before ordering they burn the heart herb that is the strength of the Black Panther. Before his final battle with T'Chala Kilmonger is also engaged in battles with other sisters - the Dora Milaje force, he kills one of those, then is about to take on Shuri and Nakia (Lupita N'Yongo). In other words, a lot of the character's fight sequences were with sisters. This is not revolutionary. It's an imbalance that perhaps speaks in some part to his rage, and which adds to the quality and complexity of the character, and therefore scope for his return.

The writing

I congratulate Ryan Coogler and Robert Cole for accomplishing a tale that enables a wide discussion about the experience of Africans. They did so within the confines of writing a superhero movie - seemingly for entertainment (there was ample of this but layers of stuff we could unpick that speak to African experiences). Coogler's influence in getting the calibre of actors and actresses to feature in the film and to give each a chance to assume future opportunities shows that he is a writer/director of a special stature. A few years ago my partner and I went to see Coogler's first film Fruitvale Station. The sales clerk asked us if we wanted VIP seats - we thought - ok. We paid for same, only to enter the theatre and realise we were the ONLY PEOPLE watching the film. And now - well the brother gone clear!

The feel-good factor of the film outweighed some of the complex issues. The women rocked their roles superbly. I saw the essence of the Orisa Oya in Okoye's depiction of the general of the Dora Milaje. Certainly, the writers seem to set out on a mission to empower African women through every feature - bar the role of 'Queen' or one who sits on the throne. The nice touch of comedy, however, during the first battle for the thrown indicated Shuri's pose that she could take up the throne and become Black Panther, as she does in the comics.

The film was far too generous to the CIA agent - it was a humungous elephant, which I hope might be addressed more creatively in the sequel. There is no way that 'character' should have as much knowledge that he now has about Wakanda. He is super cuddly in the film, which doesn't make sense - not even to disrupt the dominant narratives about the pernicious activities over decades committed by the CIA. He is the one who INFORMS us about Erik Kilmonger's mercenary actions, which have included toppling governments. It's classic double speak, deliberately upholding the imperialism of the US - they save the world. They don't topple governments! If you have no idea about the machinations of US imperialism, you'll run with the cuddly CIA character -just as we ran with the racist John Wayne who thrashed indigenous peoples for most of his acting career. Agent Ross might well grin at the end of the movie because he knows a lot about Wakanda now.

I thought the sequence when T'Chala returns to the ancestral realm to speak for the second time with his father was a little forced initially in terms of writing. The ancestor, King T'Chaka (Jon Kani) would hardly open his arms to welcome T'Chala to the ancestral realm when the kingdom of Wakanda is being overrun by an 'outsider' (Kilmonger). I know it was trying to set up the moment for T'Chala to admonish his father and realise his separation from father and become his own King, but the line weakened the power of the African ancestors. That said, it enabled Boseman to give his most austere performance in the film by calling out the ancestors for their oversights.


The Q&As

The Q&As were brief because we had to prepare each time for the next screening. Ateinda Ausarntu hosted the third as Tony had to leave to collect a Screen Nation Award for putting on Superhero movies for the past 15 years - nuff congratulations Tony! This last of the Q&As stands out because it reared the intense question about the connection between the 'real black panthers' and Hollywood's demonisation of them - which it was being suggested was the reason for creating the accommodating T'Chala version. Because it was a real but heavy issue it took away from the veneer of pleasantries about the film, which was mostly highlighted in the first two sessions. I sensed the audience wilting as we were after the third time going through the film. I reconciled that it was necessary for the audience to be as aware about the wider issues, in any case, and so invest in now seeking to better understand the importance of the Black Panther to the Civil Rights movement. It is also not insignificant that the Panther symbol was developed by the Lowndes County Freedom Organisation (LCFO), which comprised members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC - one of whose members were Stokely Carmichael/Kwame Ture) and local Africans of Lowndes County in 1965. Marvel's Black Panther was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby some months after in 1966.

And the history matters. This was another important feat of the film, reminding us that Africans have to tell our stories by any means, lest others do - supposedly on our behalf - but from their squinted point of view and essentially perpetuate their capitalistic exploitation of us. This was ungraciously depicted in the film by Stan Lee's cameo in the Casino scene in South Korea when he gathers Black Panther's winnings after the fight breaks out with Ulysees Klaue (Andy Serkis).

There was another Q&A, which I both chaired and shared the Panel with Andrew Muhammad and Nosa Ibenidion on Thursday 23rd February. This discussion was upbeat, centering on the many African history images/references in the film, the fact (for filmmaker Nosa - check out his Rise of Orisa series) that it was possible to be young (as Coogler is) and make it a culturally representative film that is so successful. We also talked about the power of female representation - Andrew remarking that this was captured in the scene when the Dora Milaje general played by Dani Guirira steps in front of the rhino to defend M'Baku. It reminded him of Nana Yaa Asantewaa, Queen Mother of Ejisu taking up the battle against the British colonials during the 1900-01 Asante Wars. I thought that bit of history was captured, again by Danai Guirira when the CIA agent touches the Black Panther (during the interrogation scene with Klaue) - symbolising the 'soul' of the people, as the Asante Stool represented when the British 'governor' tried to wrest it from the Ashanti, causing the war in the first place. The numbers at this midweek screening was about 200, some people seeing the film for their second or third time. There was a sister who had created a fundraiser and had raised £1000 so that 200 young children (from Hackney) could go and see the film. She said some of them had never been to the cinema in their lives. This is the power of the film, it has mobilised people, young and elder in so many ways. It will contribute to shaping the way a new generation of young Africans see themselves and their futures. It has done so much for the Afro-futurist genre as a consequence - so that other such projects - especially independent ones will be given wider (we trust it to happen) exposure and support.
Panel on 23rd February, Noso Ibenidion, Michelle Asantewa and Andrew Muhammad

And because the Q&As were brief, Tony arranged for there to be one last screening with an hour-long Q&A so that we could get a longer discussion about the film. This was on Sunday 11th March. This panel was shared by Dr Ama Biney, Dr Lez Henry, Terry Jervis and myself again and Tony Warner chairing. As before Tony invited us to talk about our favourite scene and themes. Terry Jervis loved the incorporation of images that reflect African history, the last scene with T'Chala at the United Nations which he thought mirrored Emperor Haile Selassie's speech to the United Nations in 1968. Whilst Dr Biney appreciated the visually stunning representation of Africans in the film, and the agency attributed to the women, she felt Erik Kilmonger was a revolutionary cut down like so many of our revolutionaries in the struggle against imperialism. Dr Lez Henry made some poignant comments about the relationship between African men and women, which the film was depicting positively and saw the film as an important cultural document that can be used as an educational resource. I agree with him.

I added, as before, that my favourite scenes and themes were the ones referencing African spirituality. When T'Chala goes into the ancestral realm to see his father, I appreciated the magical vibration of this scene - the silent power of the panther symbolic of the strength T'Chala has at his disposal, if he knows can learn how to harness it. The mirroring scene where T'Chala is fighting with Erik Kilmonger reflects the moment of facing one's inner urges, those positive and negative things of which we are comprised. T'Chala is here facing himself - (he has to ascend to the crown/consciousness - which he cannot attain without struggle/fighting for it); Kilmonger has to overcome/contextualise his rage - if indeed he must die - he will join his ancestors (find freedom his way) where he will learn about himself, harness his power more effectively in readiness for a return where he has 'respect for life' and the spiritual aspects of his ancestral traditions. If he is to understand himself fully (and recognise his 'brokenness') he must respect balance - one of the basic African philosophic principles -that balance of the feminine and masculine divine we find when we look closely at ancient African spiritual systems. This 5th Q&A provided the audience with a longer time to contemplate the qualities of the films. Whilst the panel didn't always agree, that made for an intriguing debate I hope was appreciated for what it was. For this, we must big up Tony Warner, because he had once more to convince the cinema that this 5 screening, hosted by Black History Walks was necessary. There were at least 400 people at the cinema for that one - adding to the record.
Eric Huntley at the Q&A on 11th March

Panel on 11th March, with Tony Warner, Dr Ama Biney, Dr Lez Henry and Terry Jervis
Final word

It's interesting that Tony had to convince the cinema to screen the Black Panther with another Q&A given that it was breaking their own records. What does that say about where we are as Africans in this country when it comes to total ownership of spaces through which we can put on screenings and other culturally empowering events? Because Black Panther was smashing records in its first weekend some people were talking about investing in Disney! It would make better sense, in my humble sense of financial intelligence, to invest in our directors and writers and their production companies and create our own industries around this, as opposed to propping up Disney if we have the means to invest. Disney couldn't have made the dough it did without the creative output of Ryan Coogler and Robert Cole in this instance. We need our own cinema complexes, let alone buildings for our own projects/events so we don't have to plead with others for space to do our thing. Imagine we have to do this even when it has proven its economic viability - speaking of Black Panther. It'll take only 10 million or so pounds to get there, but we've shown that we have the means when it matters to smash records and disrupt expectations. Maybe that's an outreach idea for T'Chala to consider too!

Monday, 29 January 2018

"As a canecutter, is two things me get from GUYSUCO, a goadie and a bald head."

This post was published in Stabroek News Monday 21st. It's reprinted here with permission of the author, Deo Persaud and Alissa Trotz, Editor of 'In the Diaspora' Column of Stabroek News. It attributes more of the photographs taken by Deo Persaud during his fieldwork at GUYSUCO. These photos starkly contrast others from countries such Mauritius, USA and Brazil where sugar cultivation is largely mechanised and therefore convey the troubling, yet organic and vigorous hardships of producing sugar in Guyana brutally reminiscent of slavery.



Canecutters in truck 1


Canecutter truck scene 1


Canecutter truck scene 2

One day I was with Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, travelling on the East Coast. We were at a junction in Enmore and nearby was a truck laden with men, covered in mud, wearing ragged clothes. This was in 2004 and the killing spree was wreaking havoc on the coast. Tensions were running high. I glanced over at the truck, not looking closely, and casually asked, “So dem ketch nuff criminals, Rupert?” He looked at me and shook his head. “What is the matter with you, Deo? These are cane cutters.”

How much we do not know. How easy it is to close our eyes to the activity around us. There and then, I decided that I would use my camera to help make this labour visible, and to offer a visual document of a day in the life of sugar workers on Guyana’s coast. In 2004 I received permission from GUYSUCO to go into the canefields at LBI estate. Women work as weeders in the fields, and African men are more present as canecutters in other estates, but I accompanied a truckload of mainly Indian men. This, then, is just one of the many stories that could be told. I offer these reflections on that journey taken fourteen years ago.

“Is two ahwee wuk fuh GUYSUCO. Me and meh wife. She ah get up dayclean tuh cook fuh me. Roti, curry, dhall an rice. Wen you go ah field dey ent gat shop to go an buy food. Yuh haffa eat wha’ yuh wife cook.” This is what he told me as we waited for the GUYSUCO truck which would take us to the backdam of LBI estate. It was six in the morning as we stood on the main road awaiting the arrival of the truck. The cool morning breeze and the awakening of an agricultural Guyana beckoned my inquisitive mind. I looked at the gathering of the fifteen souls at the truck stop waiting to be taken to a brutal world of cane harvesting in Guyana. All men, most were of Indian descent, dressed in clean ragged clothes. They could have easily fitted into the state of Bihar. Cutlasses, plastic bottles of rain water and the ubiquitous rucksack stuffed with ‘wuk clothes’, food carriers laden with their meals for the day. In the sack was the ‘takka,’ a kind of top hat that is worn to buffer the weight of the cut sugar cane while laden on the head. Inside the ‘takka’ were bits of old cloth, curtains, old clothes. Then there were the GUYSUCO shoes. These were given out free to each seasoned harvester. “After two wear, dem done,” he told me.


Canecutter portrait



Canecutter Takka 1


Canecutter Takka 2


Canecutter portrait 2


Canecutter Sweat

We were the last to be picked up, and helpful hands reached for me as I clambered onto the already packed truck. The track that led to the canefields was muddy, badly maintained, bridges that spanned crisscrossing canals and vast fields of sugar cane swaying in the cool Demerara horizon. The human cargo was discharged at various points, depending on what fields were going to be harvested. A gentleman wearing better clothes and carrying books went around calling and ticking off names on his clipboard as he moved around the assembled group. Sometimes there were anxious faces. I was later told that there was a favouritism that existed and if the ‘foreman’ did not like you, you did not get any work for the day or were given some lesser operation where the pay was not so good. From the assembled group of about 75, about 15 or so were men of African descent. In general the younger men tended to stick together, while the older ones mixed more freely with everyone across generation and race.

The working groups divided into gangs and these also subdivided into a group of four or sometimes two who were given their specific target. The land, the canals, and the unrelenting mud were serious considerations. From the dam you had to get across a canal and this was bridged by a plank of wood measuring ten inches across and about twenty feet in length. The cane cutters had to fetch this monster wherever it was required. Heading into the canefield held its own terror. You are faced with a wall of sugar cane and you literally have to machete your way in, slicing the obtrusive sugar cane and solid vines that entangled the rising shoots. “You hit that vine and yuh cutlass bounce back, is buss yuh head gun buss,” he told me as he carved his way into the fields, me following the path he cut. The gruesome task began. Men cut, they swiped, precise moves, strong hands grasping. Grunts. Sweat. A certain amount has to be left for the next crop and the cutting of the cane had to be done at a precise angle. Bundles of cut cane were left on the ground to be transported to the waiting punts later. Each bundle averaged about eighty pounds, to be self-loaded, perched on the takka on one’s head and taken to be dumped into the punts.


The Line up


Waiting




Wood 'bridge' across canal


Canecutters with bundles


Cutting cane

The men, especially the Indians, smoked a lot. After a certain section was done, a momentary break from the seemingly unending toil was a well earned pull on a Bristol cigarette. Cigarettes were a premium in the backdam, and friendships are formed with the sharing of a drag after a toil in the rising mid-morning sun.

Like cigarettes, water was very important. Some men came into the backdam without the resources of fresh water. They had to rely on their friends, for the simple reason that they had no potable water at their place of abode. Others got water from the rainfall which they harvested from their roofs. Lunch break came around 11:30. Individuals, pairs, or small groups sat around on cut bundles of cane. Africans brought bread and stew. Roti, curry, rice and dhall were the main staples for the Indians. There was sharing and camaraderie. I sat on a cut bundle of cane, observing the operation unfolding before me. A man warned me, “Uncle, be careful how yuh sitting. Scorpion or snake could be hiding inside dat bundle”.


Canecutter Thirst 1


Canecutter Thirst 2


Cutting


Thirst


Canecutter Smoking


Canecutter Fetching

Back to work. Massive acreage was now cut and it was time to load the punts. The bundles of cane were strapped using dried cane leaves. To strap the bundles of cane together, some of which weighed one hundred pounds, required brute strength. A loose strap meant less income if the bundle broke loose on the way, scattering the cane in all directions. I watched these men grappling their burdensome bundles, fixing them on their heads and then with determined precision heading for the empty punts, waiting to be loaded with the day’s toil. I was told that a ‘good man’ can fetch three tons of sugar cane laden on his head in one day. For this, I was told at the time (2004), he can earn about three thousand Guyana dollars or the equivalent of roughly fifteen US dollars. But getting the right pay for the weight that was cut and loaded is not straightforward, historically and in the present – the foreman and checker undercounting or overpaying workers depending on who is out of favour or who is a friend or kindred spirit. I was also told of a very insidious operation called sweet water. Sweet water is a term used to describe the dumping of cane juice into the canals. The reason I was given was that to avoid bonus payments for the amount of cane cut and delivered to the factories, cane juice volumes were dumped in order to show that the required amount for the payment of a bonus was not reached. In the factories where disputes occurred, sabotage to the machines was a common practice when cane cutters felt they had been cheated.


Canecutter resting


Resting


Canecutting in rain


In the rain

I observed the toil, the sweat, the sticky cane juice running down the faces and bodies of these determined men who are well versed in the brutal work of sugar cane harvesting in Guyana. Physical injuries are common, with a frail social back up for anyone injured in the fields. I found myself thinking as I followed the men in the cane fields, “there is not much difference between what I saw today and what one reads about the nature of this work during the days of slavery. And what about the Enmore Five? What about Kowsilla? What did they die for?”


Canecutter Cutlass


Canecutter Shoes


Canecutter Throwing


Canecutter Tools


Rasta with cutlass


Sharpening cutlass


Canecutters after loading

Work over, truckloads of tired men headed to their different villages, mine the last stop of the day. With a small group, we headed to the rum shop, a usual fixture after a day’s work. Stories were told by the men, ambitions for them and their young families were expressed. I was invited to their homes, saw their modest conditions of living, heard about their aspirations and dreams. Running water, electricity, a television, education for their children. “Well Uncle Deo, all ahwee want is a lil house, a nice yard, few pickney and a good wife. Me would like me pickney go school, tek education and come right. Dat is all me want. Me haffi cut cane because me nah tek education. God spare me hope me pickney nah go through dis!”

At least they were not broken – it is the system that is broken. It was under the PPP/C in 2011 that the shutting down of the estate at LBI began, a process that was completed in 2016 under the APNU+AFC administration. Back in 2011, a female sugar worker was interviewed by Kaieteur News. A single mother of six who had been working at LBI for 22 years, she was reported as saying: “Minibus fare gone up, bread gone up, cost of living going up, and we are not getting no increase…these people need to tell us exactly what is going on, one time they telling us that they merging and another time they closing.”


Canecutter portrait 3


Canecutter portrait 4


Canecutter Camaraderie


Canecutter Camaraderie 2


Canecutters playing cards


Canecutters eating together

I wonder what happened to the cane cutters at LBI who let me walk into the backdam behind them to capture their day, and all the other workers, men and women, African and Indian, and the families and communities that depend on them? What has become of all of their dreams? Now, with the news of more than four and a half thousand sugar workers laid off, I wonder how much has changed. Sweetening Bitter Sugar is the title of a book by Professor Clem Seecharran. From the time this crop sprouted its first shoots in the soils of Guyana, working peoples have only ever gotten the bitter end of the stick.


Canecutter's house


Canecutter's children


Canecutters house 2


Canecutter family


Canecutters' Unity


Canecutters on truck


Canecutter hailup


King Cane


Cancutters Morning

Born in Guyana, Deo Persaud grew up in Georgetown. He was educated in the UK, and has lived and worked there for the last fifty years. Part of his work while living there was documentary photography specializing in cultural and social images. Having an interest in sugar and its decline globally and in particular in Guyana, it was through photography that he sought to expose the inability and incompetence of successive governments when it came to alleviating the brutal system of the industry in Guyana.