Community Culture Clinic

Thoughts As Barbados Becomes A Republic

How do we move strategically from our Commonwealth Independence to Republic status without the shadow of “Little England” looming because we fixate on rhetorical sensibilities and traditions? If we are afraid to define ourselves and defy the myths that segregate, we ought not to be upset if our new status gets filtered through the lens of “banana”, ”breadfruit”, or “coconut”.

I welcome the move from Independence to Republican status. While not opposed to Prince Charles being the (future) head of the Commonwealth, I just wonder why we would seek to invite the son of the symbol of colonialism as guest of honour and give him an Order of Freedom Independence Award. The optics seem wrong. Boggles the mind!

Also, in keeping with the several contradictions this “silly” season, humour becomes an important too for people. However, that recent-released music video, Sing in Harmony, written by Melinda Hughes & Red Plastic Bag did not go far enough. It did not go BIG. Instead, it became a well-known and unfortunate satire replete with recolonizing imagery, narratives and symbols. I hope the participants of that video are forgiven the same way that Trojan Riddim artistes were chided earlier this year. The optics just seemed wrong.

There are multiple expressions of culture and spirituality that exist and that evolve in this space. I am just curious about why some established religious leaders feel it necessary to defend their dominant location in our society. What is the perceived fear? Is it that they sense that their relevance has lost footing?

As for resurrecting and re-centering the narratives and presence of our African and indigenous ancestors that once walked this land, when do we serve up that Bridgetown was a key site for the transshipment of enslaved people to the Americas for the last 500 years for instance? How do we talk about Freedom when we continue to give away our power to representatives of our colonial domination in economics and education among others? How do we restore from erasure the lived experience and memory of the ones who named this place Ichirouganaim? How do we acknowledge, honour, reference and recognize these energies?

We go merrily into celebrating our legacy as well we should. Parks are built, statues are erected. In the ground the blood that was spilled for our survival remains unaccounted for. Bodies buried remain unacknowledged, covered by landscapes, roads, crossroads. Our island remains a tombstone to our past. But to talk of the “dark” is sacrilege, or is it?

Recently, a follower of Ifa reminded me, the dark is warmth, it is where we were conceived, it is where we face and conquer our fears and insecurities, it is where we love and make love. 55 years ago we ushered in our Independence in the dark. Now, on November 29, 2021, we enter a new phase as a nation. As we do so, let us learn to embrace our ‘dark’ past so that we embody all that ‘black’ness means, regardless of race, ethnicity or representation.

Culture Clinic is a weekly column crafted by Dr. John Hunte. It identifies the impact of Culture and Creativity in the Caribbean. Photography by Adrian Richards.

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