The infectious beat of drums echoed through the Rock Hall Freedom Village last Saturday night, as rhythm poet, Adisa Aja Andwele, reflected on the 1816 slave rebellion with a concert entitled Bussa Lives.
It was on Easter weekend, 201 years ago, that the largest slave revolt in the island, led by the chief ranger at Bayley’s Plantation in St Philip, Bussa, ignited a fervour for change among the enslaved population.
Honouring that uprising which changed the course of Barbadian history, Aja also used the concert to apologize for the role his ancestors played in the failure of the rebellion in which Bussa was killed during the fighting.
“I wrote the apology as part of a healing process . . . as a descendant of the residents of Rock Hall who didn’t participate in the 1816 rebellion, who were given money 20 years after for not participating in the rebellion,” explained Aja.
The apology took the form of an hour and a half performance, in which Aja asked the audience to embrace their African ancestry and culture and to seek healing from the lingering scars of slavery and colonialism.
“We are honouring the ancestors, not only those who founded the (Rock Hall Freedom) Village but those who died in the 1816 rebellion so we connected with them. (The tribute) is saying that the monument (in the Freedom Village) is now alive and that Bussa’s spirit is in the monument,” said Aja.
Aiming to bridge the gap between unsolved energies of the spiritual realm and physical world, the artiste proposed a public symposium to resolve lingering issues affecting Barbadian society.
“We need to start talking about the healing and the only way to start talking about the healing process is by talking about the trauma of slavery which is embedded in us. We are the children of those who suffered and that has been transferred throughout our DNA with us,” he said.
Performing eight songs, with the backing of the energetic Israel Lovell Foundation, Dancing Africa and Riddim Tribe dance group, Aja had the audience dancing and chanting “Ashe Bussa Spirit Lives!” on the Freedom Village greens.