Wednesday, April 24, 2024

MONDAY MAN: A passion at Easter


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FOR MOST BARBADIANS, Easter is a time of observance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And for many, it wouldn’t be complete without hot cross buns or kite-flying.

In years past even weeks before Easter Monday, the traditional day for kite-flying, kites were already dotting the skies in their numbers.

Schools held kite-making competitions and also had a special day for kite-flying. Parents who couldn’t afford to purchase a ready-made kite would sit in the backyard or under a tree surrounded by the children and others from the neighbourhood with freshly harvested trash bones creating their own paper of plastic bag kites.

As a “progressing” nation, however, those days are either gone or numbered.

When last have you actually seen a kite made, or watched as the kite-maker uses the cane thrash or sticks of pinewood, along with materials like glue, scissors, rule and match sticks, to carefully craft a kite?

dwight-miller-032816Years ago Dwight Holder was one of those village children watching with much admiration as kites were transformed before his eyes, and today he can boast of being among the few who still carry on the tradition.

Holder recalled how as a youngster he thought of Good Friday and Easter Monday as almost second Christmas mornings.

“My mother would beat me because I was outside all the time, instead of being inside, and I was a bad asthmatic. I always would be outside flying kites; ‘tiefing’ out she cotton to mek kites and using she clothes to mek tail and that sort of thing.

“I was technically foolish behind this flying kites. All during the year, once the wind blowing, I got a kite flying,” he said, laughing.

Born and bred in Venture, St John, Holder has now been making kites for more than half of his 38 years.

He started out making traditional book leaf ones, where he stitched the thrash bone on to paper. As he got older, he just kept at it until eventually his mother accepted his passion and even assisted him.

She bought him his first set of wooden frames  and from that time he has never missed a year.

“When over the years people realised I can get kites [made], persons would say, ‘Come and do one for me, do two for me’ and stuff like that, and it just ended up being a business. I was selling one, one kite the first year. By the next year I decided I gine do 30 kites one time in case people come, I got kites. I realised them moved fast so the next year I decide I gine do 50, not telling myself it going’ be a business, but I was planning to make sure my family get kites and my close friends. Then them went like nothing,” he recalled.

Holder takes great care on each kite to ensure that the colours blend perfectly to create a style that is in some way unique. He can take up to 30 minutes on each.

Today he makes at least 250 kites annually, sourcing all the material from the same market his mother did when he was young. His favourites are four/eight and 16-point stars, boxing diamond, singing angel, spinner and capella.

Unfortunately, this year he was in an accident and hurt his back and shoulder, so he wasn’t able to do as many as he had hoped; but he isn’t daunted. And already the father of two boys is planning to return to 100 per cent capacity for next season by beginning as early as December.

So with all the imported kites, why does this former student of Coleridge & Parry School still spend so much time making kites from scratch rather than just purchasing to sell? For him, there is a nostalgic and unexplainable feeling he experiences while making them.

“I don’t like buying a kite from a person just to sell. I like to create that when a person comes to me, they don’t even know what to choose. If I had to buy kites, then it would take the fun out of it for me personally.”

While Holder said that imported kites hadn’t affected his enterprise significantly, he was concerned they were contributing to the decline in the number of people engaging in the tradition.

“When I was younger we would got all kinds of kites up in the air, no matter where you go in Venture. You would see people galore making kites or a lot of children coming to see how the kites get mek.

“Now people want ready-done everything. People ain’t got no time to tear up no bed sheet, to put in no kite loop; that is hard work so I got cord, tail, the whole package. When I first started doing this I didn’t supply nothing so, just pay for the frame and give the person.”

Although this means more money in his pocket, even more important to Holder than a few extra dollars is the spirit of community that the kite-making process generates.

“It would cause the community to come together even more. I remember as a child everybody used to be outside flying kites. My mother used to be outside; we neighbours from next door and in Venture No. 1 and No. 2 . . . . When I come out there used to got so much people out there already. We would go from gap to gap to fly we kite with one another. You don’t really find that anymore.

“It is still fun but I find that more women are involved with kite-flying with their children than men. I don’t know when that changed. The women now would go out with their children for a few minutes, put the kites in the air, then tie them and gone back inside. Come out in the evening, bring it down and that is it. So I  think yes, definitely, we need to get back to our roots,” Holder said. (SDB Media)


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