The Footprints of Parham

The authors seamlessly tell the extended historya of Parham, Antigua in a pleasing and informative way. It is the most comprehensive account of this post-1632 settlement. In addition to their expansive account of life on the Tudway Estates in the pre-emancipation period, the duo has brought to life the stories of several post-slavery workers. This entailed meticulously leafing through Parham Plantation documents dated between 1836 and 1875, mostly untouched by historians. These they analyzed and, along with correspondence from Britain give a clear picture of the free people’s labouring conditions on the estates even comparing wages paid in 1938. This particular approach makes the writing unique, and the story of Parham revealing. Parham Town, in the northeast of Antigua, emerged as a metropolis after Clement Tudway of England began operating a sugar plantation there in 1679. It was clearly a dynamic and important piece of the model that created the wealth that colonizers sought. The Europeans, who governed the town then, were clearly attempting to limit the life-chances of the less fortunate. Transportation and communication technologies of the day restricted mobility; the ease of today’s technology, by comparison, would seem almost magical. By the mid-twentieth century, the picture changed. Intelligence, ambition and drive enabled redistributed wealth to trigger achievements that colonialism never anticipated. Families of African descent produced doctors, teachers, nurses, professionals of all sorts. The harbour where sugar shipped out to enrich Europeans is now a hub of activity for Parham fishermen. This story of Parham fills an enormous void, and is an extension of the village stories that have appeared recently from Antigua & Barbuda writers.

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