Monday, April 22, 2024

WILD COOT: Biting the hand

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OUR PEOPLE ARE a funny lot. Most times I am happy to have been born here in this neck of the woods.
When I think of genocides or ethnic cleansing or fanatic rulers with blood on their hands, I thank God for being a Barbadian. People who have escaped from lands cursed by the aforementioned events and upheavals get an opportunity to reside here and enjoy freedom of association, worship, speech and so on.
We are a diverse lot, and a people who are inclined to be peripatetic, a feature that characterized us for many years. Go to the Antarctic, you find a Bajan. Perhaps that is why those who seek our shores are made to feel welcome.
I had to listen politely to an old lady as she carried on. She was one of those “firegalashes” who carries on nonstop. From her conversation I could tell that she had a union card. She did not know that I had the foresight to tape her.
“You could imagine, Wild Coot, that the union represents mostly the general workers and some of the clerical workers. You cut your hand and the union will seek compensation. But look, Sir Roy only called a spade a spade and all of them washing their mout’ on him, and on pun ’e back. Bajans do not like to see confrontation even where it is necessary. Bajans will always tell you ‘I got your back’ till the time comes.
“Sir Roy out there battling for the workers. He could have been at home lying down in his bed reading The Diary Of A Randy Old Coot or watching the debate in Parliament, but no – he is out there fighting on all fronts. Almond, LIME and even Lemon! If he is up against a warrior, he cannot pussyfoot. He has to fight fire with fire. If it hurts, it hurts.
“You have been a union man yourself, sitting at the feet of one of the best. No need to apologize; union motto ‘get your opponent on the back foot’. Stirring up race hatred, what!
“You know something, Wild Coot? The face of Barbados is changing as we welcome whosoever will [come]. Funny enough, we don’t readily welcome Guyanese, Dominicans, Vincies and Jamaicans. (Will they have to give Myrie a washpan of money?)
“They do not wake up other people in the middle of the night and put them in the holding cell for export the following day. That is not right. Would there be the same fuss if Sir Roy had said ‘Guyanese Indian?’
“Now Sir Roy, while dealing with the changing economic and social landscape, is hectored and pilloried with all sort of pejorative remarks and expressions, and by whom? People he stands up for in the sun and rain.
“It serves him right. He should know what they say about a prophet in his own land. Instead of making him a hero or at least Governor General, he is blackballed.
To make matters worse, he is even pilloried by people who have a temporary lodging but hold the keys to The City.”
The tape came to an end so I could not record any more. If memory serves, the old lady made reference to most of the businesses in Bridgetown and the malls, asking, “How come there are very few Barbadians who own businesses in Bridgetown? Are Barbadians only to be hewers of wood and drawers of water while black representatives who should be helping Sir Roy parade in the papers and in Parliament?”
Even so, in these hard times, is it right for people to work for five dollars per hour and sometimes not get an eight-hour day?
While Government is reflecting on the law and upholding it, check on the wrongdoers who get rich on the backs of those whom Sir Roy seeks to defend. He is not perfect, but if he calls a spade a spade, it is not a hoe or even a diamond or a club. Go figure!
• Harry Russell is a banker.

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