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METHODISM COMES TO THE CARIBBEAN

Methodism was introduced into the Caribbean via Antigua. Nathaniel Gilbert, a lawyer and member of the House of Assembly in Antigua, who was favorably impressed by the writings of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, traveled to England to meet Mr. Wesley. Gilbert and the two black slaves who went with him were converted in England and, on their return in 1760, Gilbert began preaching the Christian gospel. This beginning of Methodism in Antigua was strengthened by the arrival of Methodists from England to work at Nelson's Dockyard. From Antigua, Methodist Missionary work spread to other parts of the Caribbean.


REMEMBERING THE WIDDY-WIDDY BUSH


Vere Cornwall Bird, then a labor leader in Antigua, gave a memorable speech under a tamarind tree near the village of Bethesda in January 1951.


Bird threatened a strike if sugar workers were not given increases in their wages. Alexander Moody-Stuart, the powerful head of the Antigua Sugar Estates in those British colonial days, dared them, asking what they would eat. Bird retorted: "We will eat cockles and the widdy-widdy bush. We will drink pond water." The widdy-widdy bush, eaten by slaves in the past,  is a common weed in Antigua.


The planters stood their ground, and the workers went on strike. The result was that  no sugar canes were harvested that year. Vere C. Bird (later, Prime Minister) became a more powerful labor leader because of it.


WHEN THE GOVERNOR WAS MURDERED


Governor Daniel Parke was the only American Governor of Antigua. The son of a rich Virginia landowner, he distinguished himself as aide-de-camp to the Duke of Marlborough at the Battle of Blenheim. For his services he was made Governor of Antigua in July 1706.


Parke angered the corrupt planters of Antigua when he refused to accept bribes, and moreso when he attempted to reorganise the island's defences with the help of slaves who the planters preferred to have working on their plantations. 


On December 7, 1710, the members of the all-white Assembly flocked to St. John's, together with other whites whose passions they had inflamed, and gave Parke an ultimatum "to leave the island or die." When Parke resisted, they brutally murdered him.


OUR HEROES? OR THEIRS?


Antiguan author Jamaica Kincaid: "In the Antigua that I knew, we lived on a street named after an English maritime criminal, Horatio Nelson, and all the other streets around us were named after some other English maritime criminals."


Similar sentiments were expressed and acted on in Barbados. See "National Heroes Square."


THE "KINGDOM" OF REDONDA


This uninhabited "lump of rock" is one of the strangest  "kingdoms" in the world. In 1865 an Irish trader, Matthew Dowdy Shiell, who lived on Montserrat, and happened to be sailing past, "claimed" the tiny island for his son Felipe. On Felipe's fifteenth birthday, the Bishop of Antigua crowned him King Felipe I of Redonda. King Felipe died in London in 1947. His successor,  the poet John Gawsworth,  declared himself King Juan I, and conferred aristocratic titles on his literary friends, including Diana Dors, J.B. Priestley, Dorothy Sayers, Dylan Thomas and Rebecca West.


More information on the "kingdom,"



BARBUDA AND LIVESTOCK 


Barbuda was used largely for rearing livestock because the soil could not support sugar cane cultivation. This explains why there are place names such as Hog Point, Goat Island, Goat Point, Billy Point, Rabbit Island, and so on. There is still a large population of goats on the island, and agriculture and fishing are the main industries.


FIGS 


A foreigner to Antigua and Barbuda, on hearing the mention of figs, might think in terms of the fig of the Mediterranean. In Antigua and Barbuda, figs are bananas. That's the fig in Fig Tree Drive, a road with numerous banana trees along it, which runs up from the south coast into the rainforest area of  Antigua. The island also has a Fig Tree Hill.


In Guyana, a species of very small banana is called fig banana.


THE ANTIGUA RACER


A program is in effect to preserve the Antigua Racer, a very rare snake (described in a CANA report as the world's rarest snake species), which inhabits Great Bird Island, a 20.5 acre island one mile off Antigua itself. The scientific name of the snake is Alsophis antiguae


The racer conservation program is cooperatively managed by the Antiguan Forestry Unit, the Environmental Awareness Group, the Fauna and Flora International, Island Resources Foundation, the Black Hills State University and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.


The Antigua racer is a harmless snake, two to three feet long. It was once prevalent in Antigua but is now extinct there because they have been preyed upon by the mongoose, introduced on sugar plantations in the late 1800s to get rid the cane rat.


 Part of the preservation program is the eradication of  rats on Great Bird and this has been successful. This has resulted in an increase of the number of ground-lizards, a source of food for the racers.


MOUNT OBAMA

The highest point in Antigua and Barbuda was given a new name on August 4, 2009, when Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister
 Baldwin Spencer renamed it Mount Obama in honor of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. The date was President Obama’s birthday. Up till then its name was Boggy Peak.

It is located in the far southwest of Antigua and rises to a height of 1,319 ft. The former Boggy Peak is the highest point of the southwestern Shekerley Mountains. It provided shelter for Antigua’s maroons (runaway slaves) who revolted in 1687. The slaves were captured by the militia and burned the following year.

The slaves had revolted.  The militia stormed the camp and the leaders were burned in the following year.


A MANGO FESTIVAL

Antigua has an annual Christian Valley Mango Festival that is growing in popularity.

It is held at the Christian Valley Government Station, which boasts a 40-acre orchard of mango, citrus fruits, avocado, guava, Malay apple, cashew, breadfruit, soursop, and other tropical fruits.


A popular activity involves competitions between chefs and bartenders in preparing dishes and drinks from the fruits available.


Christian Valley is located in the Sherkerley Mountain Range of southern Antigua. The first  Mango Festival was held in August 2006.











ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA JOTTINGS