What defines us?

Recently a friend said to me that Barbados has no identity.

What do you mean I asked?

Well, he said, nobody really knows what a Bajan is. If you go into a community, you will see that the Jamaicans have their pictures of Bob Marley, you hear the reggae and dance hall music and there are images of Usain Bolt and other Jamaican athletes displayed.

This is usually accompanied with menu of oxtail and ackee and saltfish and aloe drinks with a Rastafarian or two in the background.

The Trinidadian will have their steel pan sounds, sweet calypso music, their flag as well as prominent Trinidadians.

What does Barbados show? How will you know you are in a Barbadian community? What is the Bajan music that you hear? Is there anything from Jackie Opel, Richard Stoute, The Merrymen, Wendy Alleyne, Sister Marshall or Joseph Niles?

You don’t even hear international singer Rihanna. This young woman is supposed to be Barbados’ ambassador for goodness sake. She has won a boatload of Grammy and other awards but who would know? Her photo should adorn some structure at the airport or be on some buses.

Where is the blue, yellow and black of our flag displayed? Do we smell the delicious aroma of cou-cou and flying fish or any kind of fish for that matter, coming from our homes? Do we see a prominent display of Errol Barrow or Sir Grantley Adams, Dame Elsie Payne and Dame Nita Barrow or even our first female party leader, Mia mottley? Cricket is supposed to be our national sport. Where are the clinics run by test players?

Where are the hats, T-shirts and other memorabilia displaying the images of these players? No, instead we have hats and shirts and expensive sneakers of American NBA players. We even name our local teams similarly. What about world famous Sir Garfield Sobers, Everton Weeks and Wes Hall or any of the cricket luminaries? Basketball and soccer have taken over and hold pride of place in many communities

In this age of computer game technology, our youngsters are getting overweight sitting in front of televisions and game consoles instead of running around in parks and playground participating in our national sport.

We have The Pride of Barbados flower on our Coat of Arms but in which gardens of Barbadians do you see that beautiful flower? Can school children or even some adults recognise and identify that graceful flower?

Crop-Over brings income to Barbados every year. Is this related to our national sugar cane crop enough that the sugar industry is promoted and the bi-products like rum and sugar get a special boost during these celebrations or is Crop-Over just an excuse for the public to dress in skimpy costumes and play mass in a pale imitation of Trinidad’s carnival?

What is our identity? Is it our Bajan dialect? Or is it the natural friendliness of Barbadians and their ability to blend into any community. It is said that a Bajan can be found in any corner of the world. They place a high emphasis on education and success and on contributing where ever they may roam.

Maybe that is what Barbadians have to offer. That may just be their identity.

— Barbara Greaves

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