The Autobiography of Alfred H. Mendes 1897-1991

By Michèle Levy; Alfred H. Mendes | Go to book overview

Conclusion

TRINIDAD, 1940-1972;
BARBADOS, 1973-1978

Ellen and I returned to Trinidad in August of 1940, 1 and this marked the commencement of a startlingly new way of life for me. Indeed, so depressed was I that I held on to the periphery concerns of the intellectual life by writing for the newspapers, mainly the Guardian, on art exhibitions ; on the steel band; on the Beryl McBurnie Little Carib with its significant dance group; on Beryl McBurnie herself; and this at a time when it was infra dig to do so. When Jack Kelshall returned from the 1939-45 War he came to me and asked if I would help him form a socialist political party. I welcomed the idea and this blossomed into the United Front, 2 which contested the general elections of 1946. We campaigned all through the island spreading the gospel, the first time, I believe, that the socialist creed was ever brought to the rural districts.

Alas, the United Front was conspicuous for its disunity on matters of ideology and we came a cropper in the voting booths. My activities were regarded by the government of the day — still very Crown Colony — with dismay and dislike. I was a member of the Civil Service, and there I was trampling underfoot one of its most sacred rules: playing an active role in politics, and a socialist one at that. I was summoned by the Colonial Secretary more than once and warned that I would lose my job.

One of my best friends was Quintin O'Connor, leader of the Federated Workers Trade Union. With Albert Gomes, I visited his home

-132-

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