Before he was Chief of Protocol, Phillip St Hill was making Barbadians laugh through his unique brand of comedy. Now, as his gift to Barbadians at home and abroad for the country’s 50th Anniversary of Independence, he has published two books, and Bajan Cackles – 101 Bajan Jokes.
The books capture some of his best material over the years, in poetry in 10 Fuh 50, and his hilarious take on Barbadian life and situations in . The publications were recently launched during a ceremony at the Hilton Barbados, witnessed by a diverse audience that ranged from diplomats to comedians.
Vice-chair of the 50th Anniversary of Independence Organizing Committee Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo, who was among those in attendance, said public servants with talents like St Hill helped to enrich the civil service.
“On behalf of the Secretariat…I would like to thank you. I think that you have taken advantage of a very opportune moment in the history of Barbados. And I know that your writings have something to contribute to Barbadian literature, if your performances are anything to go by. And, for the work you have done [as Chief of Protocol] let me say it now, thank you. I know that this year has been difficult for all those persons working with the Secretariat…to have these wonderfully executed events done, and you have been a major part of that,” she told St Hill.
“Thank you for the work you are doing to make sure that our i’s are dotted and our t’s are crossed and that Barbados continues to perform at the level of excellence that we have become known for. Thank you for not hiding your light under a bushel; that, in spite of all the pressure that we continue to put on you, particularly this year, you have produced these books for Barbadian enjoyment,” Byer-Suckoo continued, adding that she could not wait to add the publications to her reading list.
Also attending the launch was well-known comedian Mac Fingall, who wrote the foreword for Bajan Cackles – 101 Bajan Jokes. He lauded St Hill for becoming a published author and said he was equally impressed that he had managed to keep his jokes clean over the years.
“This guy is a comedian and then he decided one day to be known as a Christian. And when you decide to become known as a Christian, especially in Barbados, you cut your material in half. With me, all of [my material would be] gone. I thought it was a bold step; a confident step. He has been able to continue being a Christian and a comedian…and I am so impressed with the books,” said Fingall, who recalled seeing St Hill perform back in the day in the Conquerors calypso tent.
St Hill said both books were an expression of his love for his country and were intended to make his “own artistic mark on Barbados’ 50th Anniversary of Independence”.
“What I tried to do with 10 Fuh 50…every year, I wrote a poem regarding Independence, particularly when I was posted overseas. I took the poems that are Independence-related, more particularly Barbados-related, and put them together with a few others and decided to choose ten for this occasion,” he explained.
“What I have also done with [Bajan Cackles] is…I have ‘Bajanised’ every [joke]. Several of them are my own creations and others are some I’ve heard over the years and I have ‘Bajanised’ them by using Bajan characters, and family members who are Bajan characters as well, so that when you read them you will be able to identify with them.”
St Hill said he especially wanted the books to reach the Barbadian Diaspora to help connect second and third generations to Barbados.
“…Because one of the threats we have to our Diaspora is that, as it ages, unless we have the younger ones coming on, pretty soon we wouldn’t have a Diaspora and we don’t want that to happen,” he said.
Both books can be ordered by contacting St Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org.