In St Thomas, which lies at the heart of Barbados, you will find natural beauty, lush vegetation and historical landmarks aplenty.
The central parish is home to one of the most beautiful caves in the world, and is known for its spectacular view at Highland and its well preserved gullies. On Mount Misery, you can enjoy fantastic views of both the East and West coasts.
St Thomas can boast of having the island’s most-talked-about tourist attraction – the world-famous Harrison Cave — and also for growing grapefruit, which is indigenous to Barbados. Also called the “forbidden fruit”, grapefruit is a Barbadian gift to the world, having been developed here from a cross between shaddock and sweet orange.
As the 2016 St Thomas parish ambassadors, Tamika Burton and Nathaniel Griffith have accepted the responsibility of representing “de heart uh Barbados”. The pair are using the opportunity to bring more information and awareness to residents about what they can be proud of in their home parish.
Nathaniel Griffith is 24 years old and a former student of the Darryl Jordan Secondary School. Described by others as a quiet person, Nathaniel is an active member of the church in Redman’s Village where he grew up. At worship, he leads the song service, says prayers, and reads the Bible lesson.
An aspiring model and vocal artiste, Nathaniel has penned a number of pieces and recorded some of them. He uses his talent and love for rap as an avenue to express his inner thoughts and to address issues that he faces.
One of his songs, “Freedom”, expresses his thoughts as he was having a major struggle with depression. Nathaniel told Bajan Vibes: “I just took out my anger on the lyrics.” He rapped a little of the song. “You’re always trying to define me, hide me away. Are you afraid, put a boy out in the shade?”
Tamika, Nathaniel’s female counterpart, celebrated her 24th birthday on October 9. The former Harrison College student later attended the University of the West Indies where she studied Economics and Accounts. Tamika, formerly acting junior financial officer at Capita Finance, is now transitioning to the position of complaints assistant at the Barbados Public Workers Co-Operative Credit Union.
Tamika did not grow up in St Thomas like Nathaniel. She relocated to the parish about three years ago and fell in love with it ever since. During her short time in St Thomas, she related the experience of being embraced by neighbours. She loves the parish’s warm and friendly environment and the rain. “The rains fall almost every day in St. Thomas,” Tamika joked.
Tamika has a strong reason to remain forever in love with the people and parish of St. Thomas. She recalled going through difficult times and the people standing by her and helping her to cope. “They came and prayed with me and my family,” she said.
Tamika is a typical bookworm. All she does in her spare time is search the Internet for free courses to occupy her mind, constantly looking to expand her knowledge. Additionally, she is a good teacher and gets many calls to tutor younger students.
Tamika became interested in the Parish Ambassadors programme after serving as a volunteer behind the scenes during last year’s activities. The project she and Nathaniel are undertaking this year is entitled Celebrating Who We Are: From Freedom Village to Millennium Heights.
The aim is to highlight the development of the parish in this 50th year of Barbados’ Independence. The objectives are to educate the community on how the past affects the present and also to accomplish community-building through activities that would assist the youth in gaining a better understanding of the people of the St Thomas community.
Rock Hall was the first free village to be established after Emancipation in Barbados. It was established by former slaves of the Mount Wilton Plantation. As Rock Hall grew and developed, it produced a number of skilled persons including masons, carpenters, engineers and mechanics.
Some of the freed slaves also owned plots of land and were able to earn an income from proceeds from the sale of the produce in addition to their trade. This enabled them to educate their children, many of whom went on to make significant contributions in education and many other spheres of human endeavor. In addition to these skilled workers, parochial records show that teachers, policemen, superintendents of road works and merchant clerks were some of the early residents of Rock Hall.
Rock Hall has a distinct and unique place in the history of Barbados and that is why the parish ambassadors have paid so much attention to educating people about this aspect of Barbadian history.
Tamika and Nathaniel would have achieved this during the past year through engaging people by visiting churches, school and walkthroughs of the communities. They also held a public forum to compare the differences between modern medicine and past remedies from bushes and trees found in the Welchman Hall Gully which is home to more than 200 species of tropical plants and trees.
The ambassadors also partnered with mixologist, Cardinal Fields, to create a cocktail called the The Pride of Welchman Hall Cocktail which consists of a variety of local products such as Black Barrel Rum, homemade hibiscus syrup, fresh lime juice, grapefruit juice, pineapple juice, and orange flavoured liquor.
The cocktail is garnished with a slice of grapefruit and the Pride of Barbados flower.