When Jesus told His disciples they would not have Him around for ever, but “the poor always with you” (Matthew 26:11), he was echoing the sentiments of Moses, who no doubt was inspired by the Divine.
Jesus was at one with the Old Testament prophet, who had advised that we should lend a hand to our needy brother that our hearts be not grieved, for in giving, the Lord our God would bless us in all our works and all that we put our hands to.
The prosperity preachers among us may have a quite different take on this poverty issue, but we daresay the heeding of Moses’ counsel might very well explain the blessings on Lord High Admiral Vernon Watson and the longevity of the Barbados Landship. Celebrating its 150th anniversary this month, the Barbados Landship, Admiral Watson has said, has been opening its hands wide unto its members and their families ever since he was with the organization back in the 1970s.
“The Landship helps parents with school uniforms, lunch money . . . ,” the admiral explained. “. . . On may occasions we assist parents with electricity, water and gas when their monthly instalments lapse.”
The Barbados Landship is more than the simulation of a working ship’s crew on smooth or rough waters: more than an entertaining group with bedazzling footwork and uniquely indigenous dance that is accompanied by the tuk band, its “engine”.
It is a social refuge as it is a cultural inspiratory movement reaching out to its village neighbours, churchgoers everywhere, school students and the shut-ins at our district hospitals. For Admiral Watson, the Barbados Landship is “the poor people thing”.
And, as it humbly but strikingly marks its enviable milestone, it has garnered much merited tribute from the likes of Barbadian-born Africanist and historian Dr Editha Fergusson-Jacobs, in her anniversary book Full Steam Ahead that shows an African connection, and playwright and actor Winston Farrell, in his well received stage presentation at CARIFESTA IX in Suriname of House Of Landship –– which will have a ten-night run at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed from October 18.
And whether we accept the general belief that the Landship progenitor Moses Wood’s concept springs from a mimicking of the British Navy, or finds its roots in the communal self-help tradition of the Asafo group in Ghana, or is born of both, we should come to have a greater appreciation of the role this Barbadian iconic institution plays.
We encourage all Barbadians to join joyously in this 150th anniversary celebration of the Barbados Landship, familiarizing themselves with the goals and work of the organization, and through it opening their hands wide to their lesser fortunate brothers and sisters.
Let us support this humble community group, which when it does alms does not sound a trumpet before it –– as Jesus would say –– like “the hypocrites in the synagogues and in the streets” (Matthew 6:2).