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Cosy celebration

important seeds planted by diaspora conference

A Diaspora seed has been firmly sown in Bajan soil; but will all hands take to the plough?

The Awards and Recognition Reception – the closing ceremony of the Barbados Network Consultation Second Diaspora Conference hosted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean – was informal, entertaining, distinctly different with enough potential to withstand the challenges that comes with time and doubt.

An outgrowth of a well exposed idea, it was held in the town centre setting of The Villages at Coverly, Christ Church, a cozy atmosphere designed to allow owners of the adjoining houses to meet, greet, eat, chat, laugh and celebrate as we did at the stand pipe, the rum shop, the church, the pasture many years ago.

Consequently, members of the Diaspora from Brazil, Canada, Cuba, England, Panama and US and elsewhere got an opportunity to experience the type of celebration they may one day organise, if they choose to make Coverly Villages their home.

Initially, there were two instrumental presentations, Latin style, by two teenage descendents of Barbadians living in Cuba. Later, after a sumptuous finger-food meal, Senator McClean thanked everyone for their participation and contribution, before presenting exquisite hand crafted Bajan Mahogany plaques to members of the various Diasporas for their leadership roles within their respective territories.

Awardees were:

Pride of Barbados Award – Julia Hollingsworth-Brown, Shirley Holder and the Reverend Dr. Anthony Bailey.

Excellence and Achievement Award – The Barbados Ball Canada Aid and Honorary Consul to Charleston, Rhoda Green.

Special Award – Sheila Wilkinson of Panama, a third generation Barbadian.

The intimacy of the setting was at play when patrons got to see, hear and interact up close with Stedston Wilshire, the 10-time Pic-O-De-Crop king and 30-year calypso veteran.

Red Plastic Bag responded by mixing with the crowd and using them as his backup singers. He rolled back the years and shared hits like Ragga Ragga and Can’t Find Me Brudda together with his recent hits. He was certainly in a Feting mood and showed that he could dance.

Carl Alff Padmore was Master of Ceremonies.

For many years to come, the pros and cons of a Diaspora conference will be praised by some, rehashed by others and even forgotten still by others. Such are the varied perspectives we all bring to the table. However, if we understand that this recent fellowship and exchange are but a mere very small unit of a larger world of Bajans – and therefore building blocks – we may understand why the absence of the New Posse was so noticeable.

Be that as it may, the lessons of the farmer are relevant to this newly planted seed. Every planter knows that the animals and people who often trample his young tress will one day return when the tree bears fruit and when they need shade.

For the above reason, organisations of the conference could very well consider a regional model of the Diaspora Conference as the way forward. Still, exchanges such as these must also be extended to local communities.

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