As the clock struck 12 on December 1, 2017, I said a sad farewell to one of my favourite seasons of the year. While others were bobbing and weaving through the crowded streets of The City later that day, I found myself mourning for those things we highlight as a country during November. Ahhhhh . . . that glorious season of Independence.
My friends, whom I love dearly, call me a ‘fifty-fifty brand’ as my mother hails from the tiny island of Carriacou, just off Grenada. They jest and allow me to know that I am by no means ‘100% Bajan’. However, I set my face like flint and allow those taunts to roll off my back like water on a duck because I AM A BAJAN!
During the month of November varying combinations of gold, black (and just to be precise and politically correct) ultramarine were donned by adults and children alike. This bore testament to that creativity for which our people are known. My heart swelled with pride as I watched the flags fluttering more than usual in the breeze. Maybe this was due to the high winds associated with the hurricane season or perhaps it was just my heightened awareness of the symbolism of our flag. The flag is not just a rectangular piece of cloth on a pole but a voice that bellows the tales of the struggles our foreparents endured, some to the point of death.
I am a musician and there is not another piece of music that can call up within me a sense of ‘chest-swelling pride’ like our national anthem. I am yet to find a self-respecting Bajan who, at the sound of those first few drum rolls, does not fly out of his or her seat at the speed of the Concord. I am getting ‘cold bumps’ all now just thinking about it!
In contrast there are those who move like molasses up a hill backwards, or worse yet fidget, walk and talk through the anthem. I quickly let go of my ire and patriotic indignation to listen to those inspiring words and look forward to the explosive trumpet triplets at the end.
And on the subject of music, allow me to indulge myself in the memory of watching those fortunate souls on parade, who slow march in time to the lilting strains of Emile Straker’s Beautiful Barbados. I confess that this is the part of the parade which I most anticipate each year.
I believe what also makes us – and I did say us- Bajans, are those traditions to which we still hold firm. Traditions are those customs and beliefs that are passed down from generation to generation.
Grandmothers still tell young mothers to put a toothpick in the mould of the child’s head to help with the hiccups; and we all have heard the chorus of ‘Eh hems’ that follows the slightest cough from tot to teen. How about using candle grease on ‘nail juks’ much to the dismay of the modern day physician? Or maybe the fact that in any given household there must be a bowl of cou-cou at least once a week. It would be remiss of me if I did not mention two of my favourite phrases- ‘Yuh lie’, and ‘Fuh trute’.
Mauby, Bridgetown Market, Crop-Over, Friday nights in Oistins, the uphill battle to make 5 a.m. service on Easter Sunday and Christmas mornings whilst ensuring all and sundry are dressed ‘to the nines’ are all part of what makes us Bajan.
Sadly, I have to agree with Adonijah when he sang to us about there being more than one Barbados. We cast our eyes across the moral landscape of our country and no longer do we see the lush fields of good manners, kindness and consideration, values and strong work ethics. Instead these and many other entities have been eroded to reveal the harsh wilderness of short tempers, selfishness, lack of respect for others and self, and a brazen lawlessness of epic proportions.
I cannot as a true Bajan blame the prevailing economic circumstances for the current moral decadence. Our forefathers had fewer tangible items than we have and, as I have heard from the older folk, there seemed to be more love and unity in the communities.
As long as there is life, there is hope. If we as a country of praying people, intelligent people with powers of innovation and a deep resolve to see wrongs righted, make an effort, then we will see positive change.
Instead of finding creative ways to smuggle illegal plant matter across the nation those same creative energies could devise ways to develop sustainable farming. Perhaps instead of sitting back and waiting on handouts we could look for needs in our communities and fill those needs. Yes, we all need money to survive, but there are many opportunities to volunteer to worthwhile causes and employ our hands and minds while gaining some much needed experience.
I believe that if our parents join with our teachers and from the nursery and primary levels we drill the value of a good work ethic and a strong educational foundation into our children’s minds then we will reap the benefits of a generation of positive revolutionists. In addition I am resolute in my belief that if we remember God, He will remember us and blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.
All things being considered I count it a privilege to declare that I am a proud Bajan!