Tag Archives: West Indian Panamanian poets


From our friends at Appalacian State University

Every now and then we receive that age old question, “Where does the word ‘Chombo’ come from?”  We attempted to trace its evolution first from a term meant to identify, to a term meant to offend to, at present, more a term of endearment.  Our article Chombo was our first attempt to explore the evolution of this term which has caused so much hurt and controversy in Panama and abroad.

Today we’re posting yet another poem penned by Mr. Louis Emanuel which we thought worthy to post here especially during Black History Month in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.  It’s humorous twist brought a smile to our face and we guarantee that it will raise even more questions in our present world which is more concerned about the rights of corporations than it is about human rights.  I believe it will also invite us to embrace our Chombo-ness!  Please read, enjoy and send us feedback. Continue reading

Solidarity from Our British Audience- The Windrush Foundation

The Windrush with a boatload of West Indian Immigrants headed for the United Kingdom.  Image thanks to The Windrush Foundation

The Windrush with a boatload of West Indian Immigrants headed for the United Kingdom. Image thanks to The Windrush Foundation

We found out just how far reaching our writings and the purpose behind our research and writings has been when we were contacted by a speaker for the Windrush Foundation from Britain, Mr. Vasco Stevenson.  He had been reading our web pages with great interest in view of the fact that he had to prepare a presentation for his organization to present in London’s City Hall.  When he came across  our contributing poet, Louis Emanuel, he had to ask us for permission to use them in his presentation.

We had to publish this letter from Mr. Stenvenson feeding us back his thoughts and reactions and how the presentation went.  Once again, we are impressed with the power of the World Wide Web to reach out.  We also want to re-emphasize our vehement call for justice regarding the kinds of baneful and demoralizing practices inflicted on our ancestors such as “The Back Punch,” and the fact that thousands of the Silvermen and women were never paid their retirement and legitimate worker’s benefits by the American Canal Commission. Continue reading

The Diggers in Memoriam

¡Viva Panamá!

¡Viva Panamá!

Black West Indian diggers.

Black West Indian diggers.

Panama skyline from San Felipe.

Panama skyline from San Felipe.

Today, being November 3rd and a day of consecration to the spirit of patriotism in Panama as the Day on which Panama separated from Colombia on November 3, 1903, we thought it a perfect opportunity to post another one of Mr.  Louis Emanuel’s poems.  It is yet another reminder of the enormous debt that Panama has with the British West Indian workers and their descendents for making Panama a prosperous and modern nation.  Due, in large part, to their contributions we can all truly feel a part of our patriotic fervor this month.   Continue reading

Poetic Tribute to the Silver People – Part 3


West Indian workers arriving in Panama aboard the “Cristobal.” Image is property of the ACP.

Before we bid farewell to the month of August during this year of remembrance, we wanted to post the last two poems written by our contributing poet, Mr. Louis Emanuel.  They sum up vividly how many of us felt years ago and even today.  As he put it in his message to us, “Many of us can relate to this…” Continue reading

Poetic Tribute to the Silver People – Part 2

This photo is of a derailment at Bas Obispo in 1886- the French Railroad days. Note the Jamaican workers - See more at: http://thesilverpeoplechronicle.com/2007/02/jamaican-workers-on-american.html#sthash.hj31A3gz.dpuf

This photo is of a derailment at Bas Obispo in 1886- the French Railroad days. Note the Jamaican workers.

Here are two more poems by Mr. Louis Emanuel during this period of recognition to our Silver ancestors.

The Train

This railroad was built, many years ago
In the US this idea, was concocted as known
To move gold from west, to northeastern shores
Crisscrossing the isthmus, since then until now.

History recalls, those contractors of yore
Imported Asiatics, as the labour force
Not adapted to the harsh, tropical woes
Many perished, escaped, hid, who knows.

The railroad company, desperate for men
To Jamaica they went, and hired right then
Whom brought this venture, to an early end
The trains are rolling, right round’ the bend.

While awash in nostalgia, I have often recalled
Many miles of tracks, from Colon to Panama
Steam engine in tow, and passenger cars for all.
Thus I ponder, why such things had to pass.

No longer the transport, for many ingots of gold
Nor for our Diggers, from the great ditch, of old
Diesel engines, haul containers, stacked twofold
The leisure cars can be pricey, so I have been told.


An ode to the men, whom came to Panama as the main
labor force to build the world’s seventh wonder, The
Panama Canal. And whilst doing so perished leaving
behind their wives, mothers children, and loved ones.


The land is parched, sugarcane won’t grow
On this island, the economy is very slow
My husband’s earnings, so abysmally low
I am with child, which he is soon to know.

He paces the fields daily, and is very sad
And vies for work, earning whatever he can
Contractor work, in some faraway land
As a last resort, is shrouding his plans.

My darling husband, please do not leave
I am carrying our child, consider my plea
You must be here, when I do conceive
To greet our firstborn, honey, let it be.

One dreary morning, I rush to the dock
Men boarding a ship, waving nonstop
My dearest husband, is amidst the lot
I prayed Lord, please bring them back.

His letters I cherish, so often each month
The earnings sent home, begins to mount
Our child in waiting, soon to be born
The days seems as years, since he’s gone.

Received that letter, on a sad gloomy day
My beloved, will no longer, come my way
He was blown to bits, on Contractor Hill
Dynamite explosion, many Diggers killed.

I screamed, cried out loud, this is not true
He promised to return home, so very soon
Then I prayed, Father in the heavens above
To bless, comfort him, with thy eternal love.

Louis Emanuel