The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson

Tales from my Grandmother’s Pipe – A History of Saba by Sabans

BookcoverWEBSo exact and profound are the words by Alex Haley: “When an old person dies, it’s like a library burning down.” Especially in a place where pillage and fire, and inclement weather could destroy years of precious records leaving us to, many times, guess some of the data based on circumstantial evidence of letters, photos, or family lore passed down in form a verbal meme.

Genealogy as an auxiliary science has proven helpful to history, biology, medicine, even philosophy.  However, the “Summum Bonum” of genealogy is connecting us to our past and helping us understand first-hand the efforts of those who came before us.

Local historian Will Johnson, a former Lt. Governor of Saba, first authored “Saban Lore: Tales from My Grandmother’s Pipe” in 1979, which recounts the history of Saba through both the oral and documentary records. He has been proficient in going where no other historian has. He was able to tap into the “Saban Meme” directly from many of the elders, in a series of interviews done for his newspaper “The Saba Herald”. Together with Harry L. Johnson and Richard Austin Johnson, and several others, they interviewed, compiled, and put into perspective the History of Saba as told by its own people.

Many famed historians have attempted to recount early history of Saba, however the local people consider they tended to overemphasize Dutch political and cultural influence, and were, as some claim, penned by foreigners who never visited and understood the island in depth. They have been met with certain level of disapproval

Will Johnson has given us one of the most precious gifts. The gift of heritage!

Anyone who has spoken with Will Johnson can testify that he does this neither for a living, nor a hobby…. it’s a passion! He has taught us in a way that just as a house is not a home, a family is not constrained by the four walls of the house. Family goes way beyond!

Raymond S. Simmons II

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