Perhaps it is just human nature; or maybe it is a product of a nation exposed to “universal” education — we must have a reason/explanation for everything. Unfortunately, it would seem, in so many cases our “instinct” leads us to the negative thought rather than the positive.
Since Crop-Over 2013 got going in earnest, band after band has been announcing robust sales as far as their costumes are concerned. And it would appear that the support covers Grand Kadooment, Foreday Mornin’ and Kiddies Kadooment. In fact, a few bands reported some sections were sold out within a few days of the costumes being made available.
Instantly this was met with criticism in some quarters. Apparently, those Barbadians who would have us believe they are the guardians of all that is good and holy, want to know what kind of a people we are: How could the country be in such dire financial straits and people still have money to spend on costumes?
On the face of it, it would seem a natural question. After all, the times are hard for many and monthly they have to choose which bills they will pay and which they will not, simply because they can’t pay all.
The problem with juxtaposing the robust sale of costumes against the hardships some people are facing is that it gives those pontificating the opportunity to cast moral judgements on the “poor and lowly”. In other words, only the stupid would spend $600 to $1,000 when the light or water bill is stamped “due for disconnection”.
But wait a minute. Less than 20,000 people will jump in bands on Kadooment Day, and slightly more than that on for Foreday Mornin’. That’s as far as pure numbers go, but we also know from past experience that we are not talking about 40,000 people in total because many of those who are on the road for Foreday Mornin’ will also be back out on Kadooment Day.
And we are also sure that while there will be some revellers who would be better advised to spend their limited funds on the essentials, it is also clear from looking at the make-up of the bands in previous years that those who jump can afford to do so. In any event, the number of revellers in bands is still a small segment of the adult population.
But there is also another reason why it might be wrong to condemn an individual who might have had a tough year financially, for spending money to jump in a band. For many, the exercise is simply cathartic — it is a vital and valuable day of relief and release from all the stress and worries that encircle them each day. While $600 might appear to be a bad spend to some, to others it might be the difference between maintaining sanity and a nervous breakdown.
We are not advocating senseless spending, but it would also be wrong for any of us to believe that we always know what is good for everyone else. There are individuals who start saving in January to be able to jump in a band in August. Why begrudge them their day of enjoyment?
It is this same approach that too often leaves our tourists feeling that our welcome is not genuine. We so often expect them to play rich, spend big and tip without reservation because that’s what tourists are supposed to do. Anything else evokes a fake smile and sarcasm in our service. What we don’t consider is that many of these tourists are like us and our neighbours, they save all year long, sometimes for years, to be able to afford a tropical holiday.
So let the poor people enjoy their Foreday Mornin’ and Grand Kadooment. We don’t know how long and hard they have worked to afford it. Maybe we should consider that if individuals in some metropolitan cities had a Grand Kadooment to ease their pressures, fewer of them would walk into offices, schools and shopping malls and gun down innocent persons at will.
Jumping on Kadooment Day may have more benefits than we have hitherto been willing to consider!