In the same way that North American traditions such as Black Friday have penetrated the Barbadian cultural spirit and yielded success for the local business community, a Government Minister says he wants local traditions to be given the same type of commercial push.
This morning Minister of Culture and the Creative Economy, John King told Barbados TODAY that while there is room for outside traditions to assimilate into Barbadian culture, it must not be at the expense of local initiatives.
“Culture is not static and some of the things that we did many years ago are going to be lost as our younger people see the world differently and approach things differently. There are some things that people want to romanticise about and hold onto, but with the passing of time that culture will also change. However, what I worry about is when you place more value on the things that come from outside than the things that you create yourself,” King said.
He explained that the reason why these outside traditions have now become features on the local calendar, is due to their commercial success in other territories, which has resulted in Barbadians feeling the need to adopt the same model.
“The business sector capitalises on what happens in North America and other parts of the world. So, you have all of these sales such as Black Friday and you would have noticed that we do Halloween and these things creep in because of the advent of social media, where people see the success of these things in other territories. Success is something which people always want to achieve, and they believe that they need to replicate what is done in other places to have that same success,” King noted.
In recent years, the sales phenomenon, which forms part of the US Thanksgiving holiday celebration, has taken root in Barbados and has gotten to the point where it has now eclipsed any attempts to commercially promote the coinciding Independence celebrations. In fact, while there were virtually no Independence sales advertised last Friday, the day before Barbados celebrated its 53rd Independence anniversary, stores across the island went as low as 50 per cent off for Black Friday. It was reported that as early as 4:30 a.m., shoppers started to gather at several stores, waiting for the doors to open at 5 a.m., so that they could get their hands on some of the discounts on offer.
The Minister pointed out that most of the popular local cultural initiatives did not start out reaping major success in the beginning. He argued that Barbadians cannot afford to only ride the success of established traditions and festivals but must now apply their creative efforts towards creating new ones.
“What I would like to see is our people beginning to think outside of that box and creating things of their own that people can get involved in. When we look at Crop Over for instance, in the late 70s and early 80s, Crop Over was nothing like what it is today, and this was all Barbadian ideas and inputs that got it to where it is today,” King said.
“There are different types of events that are still underground that we must boost up. This is the way that we need to go. I am hoping that our people can begin to have a little more confidence in themselves. So yes, we can do similar things if the idea is to generate more economic activity but we can also come up with things that are original,” King added.