The war after the war | On this day

Thousands of men from the British West Indies enlisted in the armed forces during the First World War, playing a crucial but often thankless role in the Allied victory. And when the fighting was over, another struggle for respect and recognition began — feeding a new wave of self-determination in the Caribbean. James Ferguson remembers the events of a century ago that set it all in motion

Illustration by Rohan Mitchell

Walter Tull — over the line | On this day

A century ago, as the First World War drew to a close, a Barbadian-British man named Walter Tull was killed on the battlefield. He was one of many thousands dead in the “Flanders clay,” but also unique: as James Ferguson writes, Lieutenant Tull was the first officer of colour ever appointed in the British Army, in defiance of race prejudice

John James Audubon: The Birdman | On this Day

It’s considered a landmark of ornithology, and it was published one hundred and ninety years ago: John James Audubon’s massive Birds of America. Born in Haiti, Audubon had a restless life spread across continents, but along the way he transformed himself into a leading expert on the birdlife of North America. As James Ferguson explains, his legacy in science and conservation still endures

The remains of the Danes

Exactly a century ago, the Kingdom of Denmark sold its Caribbean possessions for $25 million to the United States. Commemorated in the US Virgin Islands, the anniversary is little remembered elsewhere — but, as James Ferguson writes, the story behind the event reminds us about the ambitions that drove European colonisation of our region

Who’s your granny?

Sixty years ago, a squadron of battle-hardened guerrillas landed on Cuba’s south-east coast, launching the revolution that would soon grip the world’s imagination. And the heroically leaky boat that got them there? It was named for someone’s grandmother. James Ferguson remembers the story of Granma

Wilson Harris — into the interior

The Guyanese writer Wilson Harris, celebrating his ninety-fifth birthday in 2016, has lived far from his home country for many years — but Guyana’s landscape and history continue to haunt his magical imagination. James Ferguson explains how Harris’s novels bring together reality and dream

Voyager among gods

Eighty years ago, an African-American anthropologist stepped off a boat in Kingston, at the start of a journey to investigate Caribbean religion and spirituality. Zora Neale Hurston is better remembered for her fiction, writes James Ferguson, but her book Tell My Horse remains a fascinating record of Jamaica and Haiti in the 1930s

When London was the place

Sixty years ago, in the aftermath of the Second World War, London Transport faced a labour shortage. The solution? Recruit employees in the Caribbean to run the city’s buses and trains. James Ferguson explains how these migrants survived difficult times, and changed the old imperial capital for ever