Barbadians were among the thousands of British West Indians who migrated to Cuba in the early twentieth century in search of work. They were drawn there by employment opportunities fuelled largely by US investment in Cuban sugar plantations. Tell My Mother I Gone to Cuba: Stories of Early Twentieth-Century Migration from Barbados is their story.
The migrants were citizens of the British Empire, and their ill-treatment in Cuba led to a diplomatic squabble between British and Cuban authorities. The author draws from contemporary newspaper articles, official records, journals and books to set the historical contexts which initiated this intra-Caribbean migratory wave.
Through oral histories, it also gives voice to the migrants’ compelling narratives of their experience in Cuba. One of the oral histories recorded in the book is that of the author’s mother, who was born in Cuba of Barbadian parents.
List of Tables
PART 1. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND TO BARBADIAN MIGRATION
Early Twentieth-Century Barbados
American Sugar Barons and the Call of Cuba
Immigrant Life in Cuba
At the Centre of a Diplomatic Storm
Relief and Repatriation
Eyewitness-Participants in History
PART 2. ORAL TESTIMONIES OF THE MIGRATION EXPERIENCE
Celia Leonora Campbell Jones
Maradell Atwell Greene
Earl Alonzo “Panama” Greaves
Delcina Esperanza Marshall
Epilogue: Cuba Connections and Continuities
“Tell My Mother I Gone to Cuba is incomparably relevant as a sociological documentation of the times and circumstances of a people who had to grow roots in a foreign environment, adapt, resist and develop a whole new set of principles founded on the bedrock of the initial home-grown ones. It is a tale of resilience, bravery and ability to bend without breaking. It is sure to become the source on the subject of Barbadian migration to and settlement in Cuba”.
—Carlos Moore, ethnologist and social scientist
- Casa de la Américas Literary Award, Anglophone Caribbean Literature Category (Honorable Mention), 2018
- Foreword INDIES Finalist History (Adult Nonfiction), 2016