My call to make
by William “Smokey” Burke
I may be wrong, and I usually am, but somewhere it says that change is constant. However, in Barbados there are certain things that appear not to change!
The CLICO/BAICO debacle, Government’s debt to Al Barack, the Alexandra Saga, no Bajan radio station seeing it fit to play more local music than foreign, and alas, our entertainers are still (forever?) imbued or is it consumed with petty jealousy and envy.
I leave most of the above points to those who totally understand the political meanderings that must be followed in order to one day come to a conclusion that suits all involved; on the last point though, I can add my two cents worth as it has been my way of life since 1970!
Recently, I have been the subject of Facebook chatter and other petty discussions re my “sneaking off to represent” Barbados at something titled Caribbean Calypso World Cup, privately promoted on the sister island of St. Kitts. Not as calypso monarch but as an artiste, as the original “representative”, Red Plastic Bag, was unable to attend and suggested yours truly instead. I was subsequently contacted by the promoter and we were able to come to some verbal agreement on my participation.
With a guaranteed airline ticket to and from St. Kitts and absolutely nothing to do during that upcoming week, off I went with the thinking that the best that could happen for me was some good PR not to mention getting away for a few days. Three square meals were verbally promised in addition to accommodation at a hotel. Oh, I was also promised a participation fee of EC$500 on arrival at Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport.
Many of the promised things never came to fruition or did so at a later time than agreed to. However, I had left Barbados with the suspicion that this would not be a Carnegie Hall situation and was thus prepared for the worst and almost all that would actually occur!
There were no particular criteria for selection to this panel of calypsonians and so I felt no compunction or sense of duty to decline the invitation. I was armed with my passports and a bit of change in case of emergency.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, word had gone out about my “sneaking off”! How dare he? What had he ever won? There must be some proper channels for one to go through before one could “represent” Barbados!
Two weeks prior to my trip, female calypsonian Chrystal Cummins-Beckles, had “sneaked off” herself to take part in a similar competition (ladies only) in Montserrat. There was not much mention in the local media prior to her trip; she won, defeating some of the better known names in the artform from the Caribbean. She returned unheralded to Barbados, not even met on return at the airport by those who sent her, the National Cultural Foundation!
No one accused them of helping her to “sneak out” of the country? Her interview by the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation on her return was occasioned by the temerity and sense of PR by her tent manager, Eleanor Rice. Cummins-Beckles too would be subjected to queries about her pedigree. Maybe Rita’s “representing” Barbados would greatly please those naysayers.
The older entertainers of Barbados are a jealous and envious lot who cannot see a colleague “get something” and not have a negative comment on it! That is the be all and end all of it. Instead of proffering warmth and felicitations, we spew invectives and negatives as long as we feel that Jack has gotten something that we feel he does not merit, or worse yet, something we should have gotten ourselves!
Therefore Smokey Burke, who met a private promoter’s unspoken criteria, had no right in St. Kitts “representing Barbados” in a competition where very few of the 10 representatives had ever won anything themselves!
As for the actual event, it was quite obvious at my arrival there that its occurrence was in jeopardy! As alluded to previously, the promoter “barely liked it” to use a pass? Bajan phrase; several run-ins with persons who claimed that he owed them from the previous show held in 2012; refusal of credit at the very hotel contracted to put up the calypsonians etc. made me understand that my initial suspicions were bang on!
As other contestants arrived, some claimed to doubt the stated intentions of the promoter while others like me, had never dealt with the man. However, the late night arrival of the reigning monarch, Karen Asche replete with manager, caused my eyebrows to lift! It was rumored all along and also quite easily read on the Internet that no one from the previous contest had yet received their prize monies! So what was Asche doing in St. Kitts?