Saturday, December 5, 2020

Jimmy and Doonie

Written by Gary Voss - Illustrations by Shawn Chong-Ashing

Gary Voss wrote the CUTEST book about a little boy, Jimmy, and his dog Doonie, who have a series of exciting adventures in Trinidad and Tobago... Really great writing and wonderful, expressive illustrations that will make reading the book aloud to small children an interactive joy!

Producer Alice Besson handing over the first copy of the book to author Gary Voss.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Finding a New World

A History of Syrian-Lebanese Settlement and Culture in Trinidad and Tobago and in Barbados 1900s–2010s

George Nader traces the growth of Syrian Lebanese settlement in Trinidad from the arrival of a few determined immigrants in the late 1800s to the present day. Using information from multiple sources, he describes its gradual transformation into the vibrant and multifaceted Trinidadian society which exists today.

This seminal study undertaken by Nader in the 1990s and finalized by him and his daughter in the 2000s, examines the data gleaned from population surveys and censuses in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and the wider Caribbean which was regularly undertaken by the British Colonial governments of the Caribbean, and, after independence, by the governments of Caribbean nations occasionally from the early 60s to the present. This is the first time that the Syrian Lebanese diaspora in the southern Caribbean has been examined in detail against the backdrop of the indisputable data gleaned from those sources. 

Feeling an obligation to the Syrian Lebanese community to write a history of their society, where they came from, how they came to be in Trinidad and how they became a part of their new home, Nader was able to tell the story of the community as a whole and at the same time provide glimpses into individual experiences. This was an academic pursuit, but also one that aimed to tell the stories of those who settled in Trinidad and those who were born in this new world.

Set against the backdrop of the history of the former Ottoman Empire and that of Trinidad and Tobago, this book gives a fresh and scientific view of why the Syrian-Lebanese had to choose to leave their former home, setting sail with the intention of “Finding a New World”.


by Ian and Robin McDonald

West Indian poet Ian McDonald journeys down the generations of his family, describing with a loving and fascinated eye his ancestors, including warriors, poets, actors, doctors, merchants, sportsmen and civil servants, and concluding with his grand-parents and beloved parents.

“Delve a little deeper get to know the people more, what they did and tried to do, their dreams and desires and hurts and joys, how they lived and loved and worked and fought and played and died, their triumphs and tragedies: that is no foreign country of the heart and soul – that is home to all of us. What one inherits, and what one in turn passes on, is the stuff of life itself and always will be.”

Archie - The Memoir

In this companion volume to “Beloved”, Thelma Seheult’s memoir, we now meet her husband Archie. 

From the origins of the McDonald clan in the misty heights of Scotland, to roaming the hills of Northern Trinidad on horseback to examine cocoa plantations for witches broom, to the matter of how to win Thelma’s heart and hand: Archie’s memoir gives us a glimpse into the life and love of a young man in Trinidad and Antigua in the early decades of the 20th century.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

More Language Matters

Volume 2 of Marlene Davis' classic "Language Matters - Matering the English Language for Trinis". 

“With humour and wit, Marlene Davis helps us all—young and not so young, in school or long out—to improve our command of written and spoken Standard English, while also celebrating the richness of Trinidad English Creole.”
Bridget Brereton, Professor emerita

“This sequel to Language Matters is a welcome addition to what is best thought of as an aid to good language, for which Marlene is to be congratulated. The book should be on the desk of every secretary, in the collection of every student, and indeed in every home, for where formal communication is concerned, language matters.”
Julian Duncan, Professor emeritus 

“In this her second volume of Language Matters Marlene Davis offers readers of her popular weekly newspaper column another bite of that juicy cherry that so often bites back with sharp wit. Here you will find a guide and a map through the thorny thicket of peculiarities and idiosyncrasies, illogicalities and irrationalities of the English language. Along the way you are sure to pause and laugh at the anecdotes and jokes that blaze like bright blooms where you least expect to find them.”
Barbara Jenkins, author

“MORE LANGUAGE MATTERS, Marlene Davis’ second book of her popular newspaper columns, starts with the Story of The English Language, the only ‘studious’ part of her book. Marlene’s book is neither text book nor novel; whether you start from the very first page or wherever you may open her book, the pages are filled with humorous thoughts and quotes to make reading enjoyable and to impart knowledge at the same time in a fun way.”
Angela Pidduck, retired journalist 

Softcover, 170 pages
ISBN 978-976-8289-22-3

The Triumph of the People of Modest Means through the Volunteer Spirit

70 Years of TECU Credit Union Co-operative Society Limited in Trinidad and Tobago
Researched and written by Mary Shand and Alice Besson

This account of TECU Credit Union, founded in 1946, chronicles the institution’s first seven decades in Trinidad and Tobago.
Born out of the necessities of a post-war, colonial society in which access to credit was limited to few,  TECU’s membership grew and prospered over the years to shape the outstanding success that their credit union is today. As times became ever more modern, political and economic realities changed, and technology revolutionised society over the last decades, TECU grew from strength to strength, adhering firmly to the co-operative principle.
Many principled and upstanding men and women guided TECU over the years. They unselfishly and with great tenacity gave of their time and expertise on a voluntary basis, and worked as employees unstintingly for the credit union’s members. This book lets you meet some of them, and records their wonderful contributions over the years.
TECU today is one of the most celebrated and financially successful credit unions in the Caribbean. Nevertheless,  it has not lost sight of its reason for being: to stand tall as a symbol of The Triumph of People of Modest Means.

230 pages
ISBN: 978-976-8244-27-7 (hardcover)
          978-976-8244-28-4 (softcover)
Cover Design: Alice Besson

A Rada Community in Trinidad

To republish this small part of a much larger body of work, written by Andrew Carr some thirty years after its first publication, is a real privilege. To seek to ensure that the knowledge contained in it continues to be available to coming generations is an important duty and one that we are proud to execute.
Of the several elements today that comprise our very cosmopolitan nation, the Rada, from that part of West Africa now called Nigeria, as they have existed in Trinidad, have contributed significantly to our overall national character and heritage. The existence, up until recently, of the Belmont Rada Community, has helped in no small way to mould the personality of that very particular part of our capital city, bringing to that area a special distinction. One that has, over some 100 years, affected in a positive manner the community on the whole and especially the lives of the extended families and the descendants of those who have made up the compound over the years.
Indeed, to all those whose lives have been touched by this unique body of knowledge, has come a greater sense of the richness of the human experience and the understanding of the universality of God. In truth: “In my fathers house there are many mansions”.
We would like to say a word of thanks to those who have contributed in making this publication a reality. Our original mentor in publishing, Mrs. Olga Mavrogordato, who first drew our attention to the work of Andrew Carr, and to Mrs. Joslynne Sealey, his daughter, who has allowed us to reproduce her father’s work and who has written the Foreword for this edition. Also Mr. Victor Ducurew, a descendant of one of the original founders, whose help and friendship over many years has been of a great value, Ms. Rita Antoine, lovingly called “Gang Gang’’ today by the young ones who run through her yard at Antoine Place, Belmont, and who is presently the keeper of the cemetery, and to Peter Shim who, with great understanding, painted the pictures that are reproduced on the cover.
In loving memory of my grandfather André Joachim of Mayaro and our great friend Miss Rosa Remy who, with much love, great wisdom and on-going generosity of spirit, gave freely to all who, in need, found their way to her door.
As the founder of the compound was himself a Diviner, the cover depicts a Rada Diviner’s Table, used however as a door from beneath which a bright light shines. On either side of the door stands Papa ∑lЄgba on the left and Sobo on the right. May they act as guardian and guide to all those who may knock, seeking entry, in search of truth.

Gerard Besson
November, 1989

Softcover, 46 pages
ISBN 978-976-8054-27-2
Cover Design by Peter Shim

Islands at War

World War II (1939-1945) had a profound impact on nearly every facet of Trinidad & Tobago’s political, economic, social and cultural life. 
The inter-related essays in this book examine some hitherto little researched aspects of this impact, such as the role and situation of women in wartime, and the ways in which left-wing, nationalist, and labour leaders and writers engaged with the war. One chapter provides the first detailed analysis of Tobago’s experience in these years, and another examines how the war helped to shape Carnival, calypso, steel band music and literature, and to accelerate a shift from British to American cultural influences.

Bridget Brereton is Emerita Professor of History at the St Augustine campus of The University of the West Indies, and the author or editor of several books and many articles on the history of Trinidad & Tobago and of the Caribbean.

Karen Eccles is Librarian III at the Alma Jordan Library at the St Augustine campus of The University of the West Indies, the co-editor of World War II and the Caribbean, and author of several articles on Trinidadian women during World War II.

Softcover, 224 pages
ISBN: 978-976-8244-39-0
Cover Design by Alice Besson

At your Service

In 2019, on the occasion of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago’s 55th Anniversary, the institution compiled two historical publications—a comprehensive study entitled “An Art Perfected by Practice” and a compendium in magazine format, “At Your Service”, both researched, written and designed by Alice Besson.
The articles in this magazine were drawn from the research done in the years leading up to the anniversary, and give the reader a comprehensive overview of milestone events in the history of the Central Bank.
The magazine also features staff developments and highlights the Central Bank’s contributions to the arts and society in general.

Softcover, 90 pages
ISBN: 978-976-8134-32-5
Cover Design: Alice Besson

An Art Perfected by Practice

“An Art Perfected by Practice” — this is how the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago’s first local Governor, Victor Bruce, described Central Banking.
This book is an historical account of the first 55 years of the institution, formed in the first years after Trinidad and Tobago achieved Independence. It traces the milestones of Central Banking against a wider economical, political and social backdrop, beginning in the 1930s and 40s when the first Central Bankers would have been in their formative years.
Wherever possible, the book lets the Governors and many other key persons in the history of the Central Bank relate their own memories and viewpoints, bringing to life their important work in the financial sector of Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean region over five decades.

ISBN: 978-976-8134-30-1 (hardcover)
978-976-8134-31-8 (softcover)
Researched, written and designed by Alice Besson

"Dear Alice, today I received “An Art Perfected by Practice” authored by you.
It is a marvellous publication, well structured and captures the history in an attractive way.
On my page, I thank you for selecting the photos you included (apart from my portrait) as you chose reading my emotion - I am grateful for your apt choices.
The “At Your Service” compendium was spectacular.
I just wanted to share my immediate reaction with you.  No doubt, this is an exceptional publication, took enormous effort and your artistry is superb.  We owe a debt of gratitude to the Central Bank and Governor Dr. Hilaire for bringing it home."
Winston Dookeran, former Governor of the Central Bank, 12 December 2019

About the Author:
Alice Besson née Schwarz moved to Trinidad and Tobago from her native Germany in the late 1990s following the winning of a scholarship by the German Academic Exchange Service to conduct a year of field research in Trinidad on the topic of Mass Media and the Carnival Arts—a topic on which she had written her Master’s thesis, which was published by the Institute of Popular Music at Humboldt University, Berlin.
She holds a Master’s of Arts Degree in Communication Arts from University of the Arts in Berlin, an institution that can look back on a 300-year history. She also holds a Journeyman’s Certificate in Photography from the Photographers’ Guild, Berlin.
After her move to Trinidad, she took the helm of Paria Publishing Company Limited, a communications company with a publishing arm that specialises in the recording of the history and folklore of Trinidad and Tobago.
Besson has co-authored with her husband Gérard A. Besson a number of historical accounts of institutions and corporations, namely Alstons/McEnearney (today ANSA McAl), Scotiabank, M. Hamel-Smith and Co. and the family history of the Harford and the Lewis families.
She co-authored the history of Cannings/HiLo (today Massy Stores) with Gillian Royes and that of TECU Credit Union with Mary Shand.
She researched and wrote the first draft of the history of Neal & Massy, the Syrian Lebanese Women’s Association and the biography of architect Anthony Lewis.
Books solely researched and written by Besson are the history of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago—today RBC Financial (Caribbean) Limited, Republic Bank Limited’s second historical account, and the history of Laughlin & De Gannes. She also wrote the biographical section of masman Wayne Berkeley and designed his book on costume design. With the exceptions of the first drafts, all books mentioned above were designed by her and produced by Paria Publishing, as were the historical accounts of Citibank, Naparima Girls’ High School, the Court of Appeal of Trinidad and Tobago, and the biographies of Anthony Sabga (ANSA McAl), written by Bridget Brereton and Raymond Ramcharitar, Sidney Knox (Neal & Massy), written by Robert Clarke, Dr. Rupert Indar (Southern Medical), written by Hamid Ghany, Abdou Joseph Sabga, written by Joseph Abdo and Natalya Sabga, and the autobiographies of Clinton Bernard (Chief Justice) and Therese Mills (Newsday).

Ryan Recalls

"Ryan Recalls" is not a typical autobiography for while it contains personal memories and preoccupations, it also contains book reviews, book launches, published and unpublished papers as well as various newspaper articles put together by the author, Selwyn Ryan.

Professor Selwyn V.D. Ryan is the author of over 25 books, including Race and Nationalism in Trinidad & Tobago (University of Toronto Press), The Disillusioned Electorate, Sharks and Sardines, Winner Takes All, The Westminster Experience in the Caribbean, Deadlock, Ethnicity and Electoral Competition, The Biography of Dr. Eric Williams, The Myth and the Man, and, together with Dr. Roy McCree, Behind the Bridge, the iconic study of Laventille.

Professor Ryan obtained his early education from St. Madeline Government School, Princes Town, Naparima College, San Fernando and further education, (B.A. Hons) from the University of Toronto, (PhD) from Cornell University Ithaca, New York. He taught at York University in Toronto, The University of Ghana in Accra, and Makerere University Uganda. Dr. Ryan was Professor of Political Science at the University of the West Indies and also Director of ISER (Institute of Social & Economic Research). He served on several National Constitutional Commissions of Trinidad & Tobago and Chaired the Public Utilities Commission for several years. Professor Ryan in 2012 received a National Award “Chaconia Medal Gold” for his contribution to Higher Education.

Hardcover, 462 pages
ISBN: 978-976-8244-40-6

The Birth of the Kabir Panthi Movement

In this book Colbert I. Nepaulsingh documents, for the first time, that the role of the Kabir Panthi Movement in the development of Trinidad from the mid-nineteenth century onward should not be underestimated. 

Despite their small numbers, it is clear that the impact of the Kabir Panthis has been by no means small. Because they are persistent non-violent practitioners of “Truth” and the “Equality” of all human beings as one family, the Kabir Panthis were able to undermine intolerance not only among the Christians, Hindus, and Muslims around them but also among all denominations of Catholic and Protestant Christians, among all Hindu castes, and between the major Muslim sects, all the above without compromising their own Kabir Panthi beliefs. By quietly working against prejudice and intolerance, Kabir Panthis played a significant role in building the nation.

Professor Nepaulsingh was born in Sangre Grande, Trinidad. He taught Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University at Albany, New York, for 42 years before he retired in 2015. In 1981, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. He served as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs from 1988 to 1991. His edition (jointly with Professor Edward Baugh) of Derek Walcott’s Another Life was published in 2004. Since his retirement, Professor Nepaulsingh has been scholar-in-residence at the Walter Elwood Museum in Amsterdam, New York.

Softcover, 174 pages
ISBN 978-976-8244-37-6
Cover design by Alice Besson