As I move around my father’s ancestral home indulging in chores, I find myself musing in ironies. Today, whilst scooping up dog-poop and figuring out how to compost it, I reflect on the irony of it as well as the significance of s’it.
First, that the word “culture” first emerged as a “noun of process”, “the tending of natural growth” in the early 16th to early 17th century (Williams, Raymond). Funny how a thought comes as I see black-belly sheep on a pasture or dog’s poo on a lawn. How many creative productions, well-presented at the front-end have mess to be dealt with (shoveled) at the back-end to keep the outcomes clear and patrons clean?
Then, like the donkey pulling the decorated cart in the Crop Over logo, I imagine artists pulling national identity along for national consumption. However, what does the animal get? We do not see or hear it again until it is needed to pull the cart again. Further, in Barbados, there maybe only two or three donkeys left on the island altogether (all-male, two are brothers and only one is road-worthy). Are we interested in the survival of donkeys in Barbados? Are we looking to import female donkeys and hope that they are not fussy to the local variety, or bring in the donkeys with seed, our use other means, humans or machines?
How does this relate to the treatment of arts, the artists and national identity in Barbados? What is its current state? Has policy documents qualified and quantified a clear appreciation and understanding of creativity and culture? Or is it something that is plopped on a lawn or in a field waiting to be scooped up or left to be absorbed by its environment? And what about the future of creativity and culture in Barbados? What an irony!
I intend to write about things to identify and relate to creativity and culture in Barbados and the Caribbean. I would like to find the zen in mapping and navigating through the mess, to begin to bring musings to help determine how we celebrate and monetize on our Caribbean identity in all its aspects. A lot of us are not bothering to clear the lawn and seem to be distracted by or put up with a lot of crap.
Proven institutions like NCF’s Cultural Development Department offer a lot without due recognition. Inspirations like a Faculty of Creative Arts and Culture at UWI Cave Hill offer a synergy to support legitimizing our people, core values and ideals, help practice meet policy, turn ideas into products. After all, dog-poop compost may not be good for the foods that we eat but it can be an excellent manure for in-edibles we just admire like flowers such as forget-me-nots, shrubs and so on. (To the extent that anyone may be offended by anything in this article, I sincerely…OOPs, interrupted by the telephone…)
Culture Clinic is a weekly column crafted by Dr. John Hunte. Photography by Adrian Richards.