Togetherness in Speightstown
With an unwavering love for his community, Clement Armstrong created the Speightstown Kadooment Band under the Community Development Programme and dedicated 15 years to it.
A born Trinidadian who adopted Barbados as his home since age five, Armstrong served as band leader to the only Crop-Over band in that rural district, from 1984 to 1999, thereby creating togetherness in Speightstown and its surrounding areas.
For three years, Armstrong had T-Shirt bands, but with the newly acquired skills on wire bending from a course coordinated by Omowale Stewart, where he met Senor Narcaron Gomez and “Patches” Mendoza, he developed costumes band for children and adults. Always wanting to give back to the community, he gave schools 10 per cent discount and donated free costumes to the children’s homes in the north.
Citing his main objective as Crop-Over being community-based in all parishes, his love and passion went beyond a costume band and evolved into a cultural explosion. With the Speightstown Dooflicky, he incorporated tuk band, arts, food, drinks, costumes and camaraderie throughout the area, providing a glimpse into the revelry of Kadooment. This continued even after Crop-Over had finished.
As the proprietor of the family business, Fisherman’s Pub and Grub, a staple of Speightstown community for the past 75 years, Armstrong was able to use this vicinity as the registration point and his house as the band house. In fact, Fisherman’s Pub and Grub was where Armstrong displayed costumes after Crop-Over had finished, so that tourists could get a glimpse of the creativity and hard work which goes into Grand Kadooment.
His team which included Trevor Burnett and Tony Payne, as well as Trinidadians Gomez and Mendoza (Designing and Production), Brenda Griffith (Secretary), was Janice Cheeseman (Treasurer) and Oliver Bellamy (Floor Member) often met as a committee every Sunday to discuss their concerns of the costume band. Armstrong had hoped that his band would have been used as a model to establish Crop-Over festivities in other rural parishes.
Reflecting on bygone days when there were cart parades, Kings and Queens sections, a passion for creativity and historical themes, Armstrong’s band copped awards such as King of the Environment and Historical. Some of the names chosen for this band were St. Peter I Come From, Dove of Peace, and Proverbs of Barbados.
Armstrong credits the National Cultural Foundation for inspiring him to learn all he could about the significance of Speightstown. He also got involved in the Speightstown Task Force from 1983 to the 1990s to offer recommendations to further the development of his community.
Armstrong hopes there comes a day when band creation is taught in schools, so young children can develop the craft from an early age. He also hopes that costumes are kept and showcased in the lobbies of hotels for tourists to see.