You scream, I scream, we all scream for… Vuvuzelas? Canadian transplant’s obsession with sounds & Barbadian ‘heritage’ – Bob Verdun speaks out at George St headquarters: Finale of Trilogy (#3 of 3)

Bob Verdun is a very active member of Barbados’ community, arriving here in 1993 as a visitor – he bought a property in Enterprise and never left, the Canadian transplant made a speech which is yet to make any headway in the dead-tree media on improving Tourism.

At the DLP's George Street Headquarters - FILE PHOTO

At the DLP's George Street Headquarters - FILE PHOTO

A lot of it is rather controversial, and therefore squeamish to the usual mainstream press which Bajans who settle for newspapers or radio and tv will not be aware of… Bob admitted from direct experience how he and his wife visited Boscobel and encountered the Toll Gang which demands money for passage; he’s also quietly and politely lambasted the current Tourism Minister for not being more proactive and Bob cited events where Minister Richard Sealy was glaringly absent.

Mr Verdun can also overstep the boundaries of being respectful to his hosts in my own view, his means of expression can be subject to interpretation and not very nice at that… Barbados Free Press already quoted Native Canadian sources who made some vigorous accusations over Bob’s assessment of how Canada’s successive Parliaments over the years have treated the Inuits, Ojibwa, Iroquois, Mohawks, and other indigenous peoples ‘under their care,’ so to speak; but since the land is not the Creole Europeans in the first place – okay, let’s leave that for Damon Corrie!

IMHO, I can easily see how certain members of Canada’s communities would tend to view the failed bid by Verdun for running as Chairman of Kitchener as a form of Cosmic Justice. They would probably have a party with lots of raucousness and other celebrations… Maybe that’s why Verdun came here – a mix of running from noise and getting away from vociferous political opponents?

One of this country's longest serving businesses - The Barbados Ice Cream Company or BICO as we all refer to it.

One of this country's longest serving businesses - The Barbados Ice Cream Company or BICO as we all refer to it.

Bob has a serious issue with Flavorite, Blue Bunny, and BICO among other ice cream vendors – he is tired of hearing “Home On The Range” and all the other public domain tunes (i.e. no copyright royalties to pay) which bleat to alert folk a chance to beat the dragging heat wave is approaching. He salutes Carl Moore in his lonely uphill battle for noise pollution amendments to relevant legislature.

However, while Verdun makes an excellent point that if he was to continuously blare his car horn that he’d be arrested, he chooses to make a syllogism which many Barbadians would consider prejudiced if not worse {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR AUDIO CLIP};-

Bob Verdun says that South Africans – and their use of the horns known as Vuvuzelas in the Soccer World Cup – are noise tolerant people, and many tourists will avoid visiting them for that racket, he then adds Africans are noise tolerant and suggests this is why many Barbadians can accept Ice Cream trucks blaring their tunes.

Verdun claims he had one of these when he was 16 and it was a fad in Canada during the 60's. On my side, I think he's over-reacting that people would avoide visiting Sun City, Cape Town or Johannesburg simply because of a musical instrument's use?

Verdun claims he had one of these when he was 16 and it was a fad in Canada during the 60's. On my side, I think he's over-reacting that people would avoid visiting Sun City, Cape Town or Johannesburg simply because of a musical instrument's use?

This sort of reasoning is like if I was to insinuate that Jews in New York are prone to fight since Israelis and Palestinians have been in conflict for generations. He adds in oh-so-perfect Canada (Then why is he still not there then?) that ice cream trucks and hot dog vans are given permanent parking spots in Toronto as it’s dangerous for children to trail the ice cream vendor – here in Barbados as I recall…

Vans can only send their tunes along minor roads and not major paths. However, I hate to say this is not the only incident where Mr Verdun makes unfair comparisons based on his perceptions of race relations in Barbados.

He makes a plea for Bajan Law Enforcement to use more common sense when handling drunken tourists and not be so draconian in settling matters which may be better served being heard by a Civil Court magistrate. That is fair comment in and of itself, but he does not let it lie there {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR AUDIO CLIP};-

The Canadian draws reference to a newspaper item which features a dispute between a husband & wife over a house and nothing is done for the matter – he suggests Police would rather handle a small inebriated Caucasian rather than deal with a sober and healthy, huge black man. What does the man’s colour have to do with either the story or Verdun’s concern on the domestic issue for that matter?

Again, for my part, I see him as crossing the border in good diplomacy and entering the shadowy twilight vicissitudes of prejudiced remarks which can easily escalate into nastier debates and situations thought to have been laid to rest by luminaries like William Wilberforce, Olaudah Equiano, Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X among others.

Former Barbados Ambassador to the UN, Besley Maycock, is seated at table to Verdun's left

Former Barbados Ambassador to the UN, Besley Maycock, is seated at table to Verdun's left - FILE PHOTO

Granted I may have arrived late that day, but throughout his speech I think it would have gone better if Verdun repeatedly prefaced his commentaries with an advance apology and warning his content may offend some, and that his intent is to inform and not be reactionary nor tabloid. I spoke to some of the audience afterwards and the older folk were more forgiving in a somewhat reluctant way, while younger members of the audience thought Verdun was a bit extreme. I may be wrong, and people are quick to let me know when they think I am, but for my part - I found this section of his presentation definitely off-colour!

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