My husband, Orlando Patterson, was a founder member of Cam, the Caribbean Artists' Movement. At that time he was known for his first novel, The Children of Sisyphus. Cam received its acronym during a meeting at our flat in Anson Road, Tufnell Park, in 1965, as a result of my suggestion.
Members of the group sought some name that would allude to the horrors of the past, the newly decolonised society's sense of progress and possibility, and the awkward complexities of writing in the language of the oppressor. The Welsh word cam sprang to my bilingual mind, because it means a wrongful deed, a step forward, and also the adjective crooked, askew.
The latter element especially appealed to me since it seemed necessary for colonised peoples (with whom I identified, being Welsh) to neither deny the past nor embrace some fake future based on reactive ethnicity, but move 'sideways' to some new position.
It was an exciting period, full of promise. Many of the artists and writers involved in Cam went on to fulfilling and enriching careers. Sadly, the islands did not.
School of Sociology and Social Policy
12 NovemberReuse content