A welcome treat

A review of Orlando Marville’s memoir Being Me

Too few Barbadians who have devoted their lives to public service or to being captains of industry ever publish a memoir. This is sad, because much of our history and our understanding of ourselves as Barbadians are thereby lost.

That is why Orlando Marville’s recently published memoir, Being Me, is such a welcome treat. Orlando has lived a full and generous life. He was a Barbados scholar, a teacher, a writer, a gifted linguist, a photographer, a newspaper columnist, a Barbadian ambassador, a sportsman, an extensive  traveller, a bridge player extraordinaire, an international civil servant and an independent senator, and of course a dedicated family man. He is truly a fine example of the Renaissance man, someone with varied accomplishments and intellectual interests.

His aptly named memoir touches on all aspects of his life, but one of the most interesting parts for me is his account of growing up as a child in St Lucy. This captures the flavour of what it meant to grow up poor in a rural village in colonial Barbados, as well as the seminal influence of a mother and grandmother in one’s early life. In many respects, Orlando’s memoir is a touching tribute to all the women in his life.

Also fascinating is Orlando’s growing awareness of the fundamental importance of Africa to the cultural makeup of Barbados and other Caribbean countries, glimpsed through his early education, brought into shaper focus during his university years and his growing progressive political awareness, and reinforced by his sojourn as a teacher in Ghana, one of the formative influences in his life. He also subsequently lived in Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire, and visited many more African countries.

Being Me also gives valuable insight into Orlando’s several diplomatic assignments, including his stint at the CARICOM headquarters in Georgetown as Assistant Secretary General.

Orlando’s memoir is a valuable contribution to Caribbean literature. It is a well crafted and elegantly written piece of work that is a joy to read. You can get it from Amazon or at local bookshops, including Cloister’s and the UWI bookshop, or from the author himself.

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