Monday, April 15, 2024

The Barbados experience

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MY PERIODIC trips to Barbados have always been a quest to consume Barbados in all its dimensions, once I touch down at Grantley Adams International. On this day in particular, I started by heading down to Bridgetown to replace a lost bank card.

I chatted amiably with the clerk about the friendliness of Bajans, a characteristic unique to our brand as a people. He admittedly endorsed this feature as a definite cultural positive, uncharacteristic of other places he had visited.

But to crown my entire quest this day, (I had heard the day before) there was going to be an independence celebration for Barbados’ approaching 50 years. I decided it would be good to see some Barbados talent after a long absence. I never imagined the fullness of culture I was to soak in that night. Hovering over the swing bridge I had taken pictures of just the day before, I was surrounded by thousands of Bajans, in a true Time Square scene.

I arrived just prior to the Merrymen’s Emile Straker rendering his iconic composition Beautiful Barbados. As the lyrics progressed to You’ll find rest, you’ll find peace in Barbados … come back to my island and me, while I hovered over the glistening Careenage water where the cool air dropped sweet cascades of wind to sweep my face, I cannot describe the wonderfully patriotic embrace I felt.     

That almost severed sense of belonging, of cultural oneness to a people, had blossomed out again, in quick rhythm, to full maturity. But that was just the icing that followed more and more icing on the cake.

The show was phenomenal, smothered with pure Bajan culture in professionally executed song and dance, from the best local artistes that sang our identity and took us to unfelt heights of true Bajanness: Gabby’s This is My True Culture in the Caribbean.  Red Plastic Bag’s song Bim,  items from the Drayton’s Two,  amongst others.

The show was flawless, more than I could ask for, to put it euphemistically, and matched the professionalism of any international show I have seen. I was soaked to saturation in Bajan bliss as I raised my hand to Rupee’s song I am a Bajan.  I just loved the cultural embrace that I longed to reach new heights.

There was not a single disruption of violence, just Bajans celebrating us. Confession, I just can’t get The Rock out of me. So true, “Barbados is my home no matter where I roam”. I have sensed Barbadians’ embrace of who they are, unapologetically, and I am satisfied that as they continue on this trend, they will continue to market, not just Barbados as a product, but, Barbados, The Experience!

FAWZIA HACK  

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