All of the seven books authored by Elombe Mottley are meant to recapture Barbados’ African past and build national self-confidence.
Mottley made this claim today while launching his seven publications, at the Island Inn Hotel on Aquatic Gap, Upper Bay Street, St Michael.
Mottley, a long-standing pan-Africanist, lamented the fact that neither Barbados Labour Party nor Democratic Labour Party administrations had ever attempted to recognise stick-licking as a martial art in the same way Japanese or Korean martial arts are.
He told the gathering, which included sociologist Professor Linden Lewis and head of the Media Resource Department, Walter Harper, and personnel from Cloister Book Shop, that stick-licking had its origin on the African continent.
Mottley, who is also seen as a cultural nationalist, recalled that at an earlier period in Barbados’ history no one was permitted to play “banja” in the house on Sunday, which as he claimed was any music with a rhythm. He stressed that his publications are meant to capture Barbadian life and build
self-esteem among people who were told that nothing created locally was worthy of note.
Meanwhile, Lewis who wrote the introduction to the book noted that black people worldwide do not seem to understand the importance of keeping records and lauded Mottley on his achievement. Referring to the Afro-American historian John Henrick Clarke, Lewis recalled that during an interview Clarke had stated that one of the problems with black people is that they do not understand the importance of the record.
Condemning this indifference to culture and the arts, Lewis said: “I know there are cases where people have died and their spouses have thrown out ‘stuff’ or there are organisations that just clear everything that they have collected about the history of the oragnisation. I thought it was an interesting point to make. This cannot be an accusation made against Elombe. What I want to say about the issue of the record is that Elombe has been seeing the importance of the record in places we did not even realise existed.”
Lewis added Mottley’s recording of these important cultural things was happening at a time before we had cultural studies that began to indicate the importance of doing this kind of work or before we had local cultural anthropologists doing this kind of work.
“There is a discerning eye about him which I think we should pay attention to and that is why I think we should look at these books. I said to myself recently who would have been able to look past the troubadour, Shilling, to see the importance of this person. I think that writing about individuals like Shilling is important because we are producing a generation that have no knowledge of these people.
“I was in Guyana some years ago on the 25th anniversay of Walter Rodney’s death and there was a young woman who did not know anything about this outstanding historian and political activist. There are young people in Barbados who do not know who the Right Excellent Sir Frank Walcott or the Right Excellent Sir Garry Sobers are. This is pretty sad.
“I like the point where Mottley sees stick-licking as a martial art because I think the one in Brazil is seen as a martial art. What I see is a collection of work which is part memoir. There are some issues of race, the ‘big elephant in the room’ that we do not speak about”, the sociologist added.
The seven books published by Mottley today are Cover Down Yuh Bucket: The Story Of Sticklicking In Barbados; Better Must Come: Vol. 1; Better Must Come: Vol. 2; Identities Volume 1; Identities
Volume 2; De City; and Night Songs.