Darcus Howe causes trouble in Tobago

In Tobago, I am told to move my beach chair to accommodate a white couple

I have returned to Tobago to complete a holiday that began in December and collapsed when two carbuncles, which I have rechristened Blair and Bush, struck pre-emptively on my buttocks. The sun is punishingly hot and the Australian cricketers are here for a five-match Test series. The islanders know only those two things, and otherwise drift along without a care in the world.

So did I - apart from an incident in Grenada (where we stopped briefly on the way here) between an army officer and one of my English friends who lit a cigarette in the wrong place. But then I was aroused by the subject of race and tourism.

A feature of Caribbean tourism is the violation of the rights of black locals. In 1970, I was part of a black power uprising in Trinidad and one of our demands was that the beaches should be free for every citizen, and not held privately by local hotels for the exclusive use of foreign whites.

I visited a beach the other day with friends, just across the road from the golf hotel in Mount Irvine. Public access to the beach has long been established, but the hotelier built several huts there and labelled them: "For hotel guests only" - thus in effect commandeering more than 30 per cent of the beach space. I hired a beach chair and spread out under a couple of the huts. At once the beach boy ordered me to move because an English couple required to be blasted brown by the sun. I refused - and a minor commotion ensued.

It ended with my suggestion that I build a hut and write on it: "For Darcus Howe's guests only".

I am not yet done with this beach business. I am seeking an appointment with the head of the local authority in order to pursue the matter. To suffer victimisation in London is one thing, but not on the soil in which my navel string is buried.

Even so, I recommend Tobago, without reservation, as a holiday destination. My problems are mere hiccups. The curry crab and dumpling is unmatchable in taste and there is a rural feel about this place. A population of a mere 6,000 contented souls, locally governed. It is virtually crime-free and there is a genuine politeness from locals.

I am off to the goat races for a punt or two. Not that the fastest goat wins; it will be the one with the cow itch up its backside. He runs only in hysteria, a condition rather like mine when I was last here, with my carbuncles.

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