Guy Fawkes – A Lesson in History

Go Lean Commentary

“… Keep doing this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming  … – The Bible 1 Corinthians 11: 25, 26 NWT

Its a simple formula, keep doing things in remembrance … and you will remember.

Remember, remember the Fifth of November, 
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

See the full poem and all its variations in Appendix A below.

Throughout the British West Indies (18 of the 30 countries that comprise the political Caribbean), the night of November 5th was a Red Letter Day on the Calendar. It was Guy Fawkes / Bonfire Night. The tradition was to burn a stuffed dummy in effigy!

This was not our finest moment.

Without realizing it, we were fostering a Climate of Hate.

Surely, we have grown … since those Bad Old Days?!


Sorry! The answer is No! Those Bad Old Days was … 5 days ago.

This practice was/is bad … because we have not reformed and retrained our Community Ethos. This refers to:

The national spirit that drives the character and identity of its people.

In a lot of the Anglophone world, Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night is a memorable Calendar event. Here are examples:

  1. Bahamas
    Though the Bahamas gained independence from England more than 40 years ago, a great deal of our culture remains steeped in the traditions of our British ancestors.
    One of these traditions is Guy Fawkes Night. …
    Today, nearly 250 years later, Guy Fawkes Night is still celebrated throughout the Bahamas. “Guys” are constructed using old clothing, newspapers and masks, and burned on giant bonfires.
    Green Turtle Cay’s Guy Fawkes Night is observed on the Saturday evening closest to November 5th. … – Source:
  2. Bermuda
    England celebrates this … Gun Powder Plot and every year his effigy is burned on a bonfire.
    Oh and there are fireworks! Well of course there are. No sense in just letting him burn in silence!
    In true Bermudian fashion we will be joining the Brits in their burning! Well at least the fireworks that is. Aptly placed our fireworks will be around an old Fort here, Fort St. Catherine! Source:
  3. Jamaica
    Bonfire Night in Jamaica can be one of the most exciting nights of the year. There are loads of Guy Fawkes events in Jamaica and no matter what the weather’s like, you can always be sure a firework party in Jamaica will always draw in a big crowd. – Source:
    See a relevant news article in Appendix B. 
  4. St. Kitts and Nevis
    This Caribbean islands knows how to party. Guy Fawkes is just another excuse to head down to the beach or attend a party where firework displays are the highlight of the night. – Source: 
  5. St. Vincent and the Grenadines
    The former British colony in the Caribbean, Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated with English customs such as tea parties as well as the unique tradition of bamboo blowing, where heated kerosene is used to ignite an explosion in hollowed out bamboo cannons (to mimic the sound and fire of old cannons from the colonial days). In addition, there are fireworks displays on many beaches. – See Appendix C VIDEO below. 
  6. United Kingdom
    The British city of Lewes (a small market town in East Sussex) is legendary for their bonfire festivities:

This is not good!

Underlying to the Guy Fawkes remembrance is the enmity and animosity between England’s Protestants (Anglicans) and Roman Catholics – see Appendix A below. There was war; there was hatred; this was the climate for hundreds of years. Every time we consume Guy Fawkes festivities, we promote that Climate of Hate; we continue the bad community ethos. So instead of persecuted minorities – Protestants-hating-Catholics or Catholics-hating-Protestants – the recommended community ethos is:

Live and let live.

The opposite of persecuted minorities would be “Respect for Minorities”. This has been a familiar topic for the movement behind the book Go Lean…Caribbean. This movement has related the Climate of Hate in these scenarios:

These are lessons for us to learn and apply. The Caribbean member-states, collectively and individually, need to curb its Climate of Hate so we need to pay more attention to historic traditions; they furnish lessons we need to take to heart.

This is not just an issue of history, but one of currency for our economics, security, governance  and overall spirit in society. These are all important subjects for the book Go Lean…Caribbean. The book serves as a roadmap for elevating Caribbean society – for its 42 million residents and 80 million visitors, across all 30 member-states – by introducing and implementing the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU).

The quest of the Go Lean roadmap is to make the Caribbean homeland a better place to live, work and play. The CU, applying best-practices for community empowerment has these 3 prime directives, proclaimed as follows:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines and ensure the respect of human rights and public safety.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

We have a Climate of Hate in the Caribbean, the Go Lean book – within its 370 pages – therefore details a series of community ethos to adopt to overcome the bad attitudes plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute to forge permanent change in the homeland. Fixing the Caribbean eco-system is the quest of the Go Lean roadmap. Our focus is fixing the Caribbean. Considering the acute and pronounced Climate of Hate, we have a lot of work to do to garner more respect for our minorities.

The Go Lean/CU roadmap specifies best practices to effect change in society, the attitudes and actions. Success in these efforts will reform and transform our climate, and assure public safety and justice for all. This quest is worth all our efforts.

When is the right time to start these efforts? Now!

Now … is the time for all of the Caribbean to lean-in to this roadmap and learn the lessons from history or other communities – successful, plus unsuccessful. The Go Lean book posits that the Caribbean is in a serious crisis, but asserts that this crisis would be a terrible thing to waste. The people and governing institutions of the Caribbean region are hereby urged to lean-in to this Go Lean roadmap to impact the whole Caribbean region,to benefit everyone … Protestants and Catholics.

If we remember to do good – on the Fifth of November and ever other day – we will have a great society.  🙂

Download the free e-book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix A – Gunpowder Plot in Popular Culture
Several traditional rhymes have accompanied the Guy Fawkes Night festivities. “God Save the King” can be replaced by “God save the Queen” depending on who is on the throne.

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d (or by God’s mercy*)
With a dark lantern and burning match.

Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
And what should we do with him? Burn him!

In more common use the “bonfire cry” is occasionally altered with the last three lines (after “burning match”) supplanted by the following;

A traitor to the Crown by his action,
No Parli’ment mercy from any faction,
His just end should’st be grim,
What should we do? Burn him!
Holler boys, holler boys, let the bells ring,
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the King!

Some of the Bonfire Societies in the town of Lewes use a second verse reflecting the struggle between Protestants and Roman Catholics. This was widely used, but due to its anti-Roman Catholic tone has fallen out of favour.

penny loaf to feed the Pope
A farthing o’ cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A fagot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we’ll say ol’ Pope is dead.
Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah hoorah!

Source: Retrieved 11/05/2018 from:


Appendix B – Is Guy Fawkes Day relevant to Jamaica?

By: Michael Burke

Today is the 410th anniversary of the ‘Gun Powder Plot’, the day when an attempt to bomb the parliament building in England with King James and the House of Lords present was foiled in 1605. Today is known as Guy Fawkes Day in England, but is sometimes called ‘Bonfire Night’. It is celebrated as a day of thanksgiving that the plot in 1605 was foiled and this is done by lighting bonfires and fireworks.

Is the Gun Powder Plot of 1605 in England relevant to Jamaica? Yes it is, in terms of its impact on Jamaica’s history. The ‘gun powder plotters’ were Roman Catholics who wanted to end the oppression of Roman Catholics in England by the restoration of Roman Catholicism there. The failed plan was to first assassinate the king and the lords by blowing up the parliament building and then install a puppet Roman Catholic monarch to restore the Roman Catholic Church.

Today in some places around the world Guy Fawkes is hailed as a revolutionary hero. But the Roman Catholic Church does not condone violence, so Guy Fawkes was not canonised as a saint. In any case, Guy Fawkes Day is a misnomer because the plot was actually hatched by Robert Catesby. But Fawkes was the hitman who was caught red-handed with 36 barrels of gunpowder in the parliament building.

The oppression of Roman Catholics in England started in 1534 when the pope excommunicated King Henry VIII for divorcing his wife. King Henry issued a decree to separate the Church of England (or Anglican Church) from the Roman Catholic Church and declared himself as the divinely appointed head of the Church of England.

A martyr of the schism was Sir Thomas More, the chancellor of the exchequer (or minister of finance), who was put to death in 1535 for refusing to denounce the pope, and 400 years later in 1935 was canonised as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. St Thomas More Church and preparatory school in May Pen, Clarendon, are named in his honour.

Robert Catesby could not carry out the Gun Powder Plot all by himself, so he confided in 13 men, including the brother-in-law of a member of the House of Lords. As the bombing was to have taken place at the opening of parliament when the king and the House of Lords would be present, he revealed the plot to his brother-in-law who in turn ‘broadcasted’ it. Guy Fawkes was imprisoned in the Tower of London and was later put to death by hanging, drawing and quartering.

But the Gun Powder Plot of 1605 only made the oppression against Roman Catholics in England far more severe. Eventually, all Roman Catholic priests were imprisoned in England. Roman Catholics could not inherit land from anyone. Attending Roman Catholic mass was an offence punishable with imprisonment. And informers were paid one hundred pounds for reporting any Roman Catholic found attending mass.

The impact of the schism and Gun Powder Plot on Jamaica

Had the Gun Powder Plot succeeded, and England restored to Roman Catholicism, there might not have been friction between England and Spain, so the capture of Jamaica might not have happened. The then English dictator Oliver Cromwell dispatched Admiral Penn and General Venables with soldiers to capture Hispaniola but that attempt failed. Fearing the wrath of Cromwell, Penn and Venables captured nearby Jamaica instead. Had that not happened, Jamaica’s history would be very different in many ways, especially after 1655.

First, when the British captured Jamaica in 1655, the year of the 50th anniversary of the ‘Gunpowder Plot’ starring Robert Catesby, Guy Fawkes and 11 others, the Roman Catholic Church was banned in Jamaica. This was in keeping with the schism of 1534 that continued after the foiled Gun Powder Plot. The ban lasted for 136 years, from 1655 to 1791. The first priest-martyr in Jamaica was Father Gabriel de Barona, who was killed on the banks of the Black River, St Elizabeth, while urging the Spaniards to keep on fighting.

Second, without the English capture of Jamaica there would not have been English bondsmen coming here to serve six-year sentences at hard labour. And had they not come here they would not have stayed to become pirates and make Port Royal their headquarters. They plundered ships and stopped all trade between the Caribbean and Europeans as ship crews were afraid of pirates.

Third, the Treaty of Madrid obliged Britain to control piracy, and this led to the imprisonment of pirate captain Henry Morgan who was shipped by boat to the Tower of London. But only Morgan could control the pirates, and so King Charles II made him governor of Jamaica to do that. Morgan controlled piracy by selling land cheaply to the pirates and they became the aristocracy. This meant that the ex-pirates became owners of slaves and masters of corruption and criminality that affects many Jamaicans to this day.

Fourth, some time in either the 17th or 18th century, Roman Catholic African slaves of a Spanish colony were passengers on a boat en route to Cuba for them to do slave labour there. Pirates invaded the boat and stole the slaves who were transported to Jamaica at Castle Mines in St Mary. Had Jamaica remained under the Spanish rule, the Castle Mines slaves in St Mary would never have had a need to set up an underground Roman Catholic Church.

Long after the Catholic Church in Jamaica was restored in 1791, and some time after 1838 when slavery was fully abolished, the descendants of the Castle Mines slaves sought out a Roman Catholic priest and eventually a church was built at Preston Hill, St Mary.

Fifth, had the English not captured Jamaica from the Spaniards, there might never have been a change in the crops planted for export from tobacco to sugar cane, which required hundreds of thousands of workers. After Emancipation, the ex-slaves refused to work on the estates, so the landowners switched to less labour-intensive bananas, out of which came the tourist industry via the United Fruit Company Banana Boats to Port Antonio.

Source: Posted November 5, 2015; retrieved November 5, 2018 from:


Appendix VIDEO – Bamboo (cannon) Blowing in St. Vincent and the grenadines (Mespo) –

Published on Nov 2, 2013 – During the Guy Fawkes celebrations, persons make Bamboo cannons which they ignite using heated kerosene. The kerosene vapors ignite in the bamboo’s hallowed out interior and creates a loud explosion.


See a related VIDEO about Lewes, UK here:

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