That beach is mine
Hi readers, I’m back from holiday and enjoyed the break.
From the time I hit the airport, I was painfully aware that I was home. The immigration official was very efficient so I have no complaints there.
What had me stewing was the fact that when we were in Manchester airport, my husband was about to buy some chocolates for the staff in his office and I told him that we should wait until we got back and support our local businesses.
Three big Toblerone bars cost £10 (about BDS $27) there but when I got to Barbados, one cost $20! And that is supposed to be Duty Free. I suppose the shipping from Switzerland to Barbados accounted for some of the cost but more than double?
So much for supporting local.
Anyway to tell you a bit about my holiday . . . I was in Liverpool where the character of my upcoming novel Vaucluse was supposed to have freed five of his slaves before Emancipation. I was hoping to find Emancipation records to support this but, unfortunately, their Archives did not have that information.
Nevertheless, I was able to spend a little time in the International Slavery Museum which is housed in their Maritime Museum. Liverpool played a significant role in the slave trade, being a shipment point for ten per cent of the slaves sent to the Colonies in the West.
The International Slavery Museum had some amazing exhibits of the goods produced in Africa and interesting documentaries about the culture and organization of the tribes before slavery. The photos, displays and videos depicting the horrors of slavery were heartrending and have the ability to stir the emotions of even the hardiest person. What was quite surprising to me was that entrance to the museum was free.
So having just experienced a “freeness”, as we say in Barbados, I was shocked when one of my friends wrote in our group chat to tell us about her experience at one of our local beach clubs. She had some relatives who had paid to use the facilities at the club and since she was only going for a short swim and to pick them up, she asked if she could pay a reduced fee. On being told that she would have to pay the regular fare, she opted to use the public access to the beach and just have her swim.
Apparently when she approached her relatives who were using the facilities, she was told that she could not be there or she would have to pay and she was not even allowed to put down a towel next to their beach chairs. Needless to say, she was hopping mad. Now I’ve heard talk about high tide line so maybe the properties have to pay land tax or something up to this high tide line and, therefore, the owners are becoming very obnoxious about people encroaching on beach that they have to pay for without them receiving some sort of compensation.
If that is the case, I think the Town Planning laws or something need to be changed because, very soon, we will have beaches in Barbados where we can’t go without paying and next thing you know, there will be private beaches where we can’t go at all. We might need Gabby to re-release Jack to remind those who make these decisions that “the beach belong to we” and if beaches have been sold or if businesses are being made to pay for land up to the high tide line, then perhaps that needs to be looked at. A friend of mine who is a Jamaican, cautioned us to do everything we can to make sure Barbados does not go down the same road that Jamaica has in creating private beaches in the island. Not only does it create separation and classism, but it removes the freedom, for locals or those who cannot afford to pay for facilities, to enjoy our island. Are we retreating once again to segregation where only certain people can enjoy certain privileges?
However, as I told my friend who experienced this treatment, it is not even racism because she is white and the establishment was owned by one of her own colour. So, to me, when you see that kind of behaviour exhibited, it becomes obvious that it is motivated by money. Have businesses become so pressured by Government’s policies that they are now desperate and have to pass on these costs to their customers? But is it really necessary to vilify those who refuse to use their facilities but want to use the beach?
I know we were facing some of these same issues a few years ago and, thankfully, the proposal to create private beaches was rejected. Let us not be complacent this time and wake up one morning and realize that we no longer have the freedom to say “tha’ beach is mine, I could bathe anytime.”
Donna Every is an author, international speaker and trainer. She is also the Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, the Barbados Facilitator for the InfoDev WINC Acceleration Programme and the Barbados Affiliate for the FundRiseHer Campaign.Contact her firstname.lastname@example.org.Websitewww.donnaevery.com