Although it is not the geographical centre of Barbados, St Michael is the central spot for almost every activity.
The urban parish, which is home to the island’s capital and the headquarters of Government, boasts of having the island’s lone UNESCO heritage site –Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, as well as the historic Parliament Buildings, and the fast developing Warrens commercial area which is beginning to rival Bridgetown.
St Michael can also boast of having vibrant marine life which can be seen in Carlisle Bay where there are a few reefs made from shipwrecks.
Despite continuous modernization, St Michael has managed to preserve many aspects of old Barbados for future generations to experience. One is the village rum shop which the Parish Independence Committee decided to make the focus of its project this year.
“The Village Rum Shop . . . An Unsung Treasure” is the title of the project. The committee has sought to raise awareness of an institution that has been around for almost as long as Barbados has existed as a society.
The rum shop is where people from every social stratum and ethnic group have gathered for generations for recreational purposes and also to discuss almost everything under the sun — from sports, politics and current affairs, to problems at work or home.
Before the advent of modern supermarkets, shopping malls and mass public and private transportation, the rum shop, which has always occupied a strategic location, also supplied groceries in demand by village residents.
Four rum shops with a rich history – The Old City Bar, R. A Mapp Bar & Rotisserie, Corner Kick Shop and Elma’s Bar & Grocery – are the subjects of the project. The Old City Bar which has been in existence for over 100 years, is located next to the Parliament Buildings while R.A Mapp Bar & Rotisserie, located at Eagle Hall, was started over 50 years ago.
The two 2016 St Michael Parish Ambassadors, Davianne Phillip and Jamon Edwards, have sought to draw attention to these landmarks through various activities.
“If we view the world from each other’s eyes, the world would be a much more peaceful place” is the quote that drives 25 year old Davianne, a former Alleyne School student who loves the performing arts, especially singing, and has a beautiful voice.
She represented Barbados at CARIFESTA when she was 18 years old and also participated in the Youth Achieving Results Programme hosted by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF). She told Bajan Vibes: “I love to give back and know that I am helping people and that I can make somebody smile.”
That is why Davianne spends a lot of her free time volunteering. She has previously volunteered at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the NCF and the HIV/AIDS Commission. She works as a project officer at Supreme Counselling for Personal Development and also as an enumerator with the Barbados Statistical Service. She studied Social Work at the University of the West Indies.
When asked why she chose this subject, Davianne said it was informed by an experience in secondary school in which a friend was suicidal and she was the only one the person trusted for advice. Also, the fact that many other persons have turned to her for advice.
Davianne grew up in the Pine but some of her fondest childhood memories are in Martindale’s Road where her grandmother resides. She recounted having many “good times” with her cousins climbing tamarind and soursop trees and eating pomegranate.
Every day they played cricket and every morning they got up at 5 ‘o’ clock to go to the beach. “Regardless of what transpired the day before, it was church on Sunday mornings,” Davianne joked.
Jamon Edwards, the male 2016 parish ambassador, is passionate about food.
His interest in the field ranges from cooking to finding new recipes to reading food magazines and watching Food Network on cable television.
Jamon, who is 24 and wanted to be a cook from age four, is a recent graduate of the Barbados Community College’s Hospitality Institute with an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts. He is looking forward to going to Switzerland to pursue further studies in the field leading to a Bachelor’s and then Master’s degree.
Jamon, who grew up in Black Rock, has ambitions of opening a chain of restaurants regionally and internationally. “You should only look down on people when you are helping them up” is his motto. He plans to do exactly that when he has established his restaurant brand.
Jamon specifically wants to help young people who may not be able to afford to go to college to study culinary arts but have the same love and drive for food as he does. His aim is to make them into master chefs.
Jamon believes he has the right attitude, personality and drive to achieve his goal which is to be the best “cooker” that he can be. He has already worked in the hospitality field for over six years in the roles of commis waiter, cook and chef.
He is currently a demi-chef with responsibility for tweaking menus and helping the sous-chef prepare meals at a well-known restaurant.