Just read a very disturbing e-mail from a former colleague of mine, it originated from a Government worker with the arts who got it from a lady who does not beat around the mulberry bush when it comes to speaking her mind! It was well circulated throughout CBC and I imagine even further – I remember there was a similar concern expressed but it used a lot of BLEEP-ed words (upset Bim from “Is there anybody out there?” Very Sorry, but I agreed with it and I wanted everyone to know, just like now)
A program aired on BBC 2 this week showing a view of Barbados which very few at home are likely to see or even hear about. It was not just about our sunshine, and our beautiful seas and the friendly people tourists meet when they visit the island, it was PRIMARILY about the fact that ‘our beautiful Barbados‘ is no longer ours, and has not been for a long time.
The presenter went to various parts of the island and to the homes of several ‘foreigners’ that now call Barbados their home. One of his visits in particular was literally horrifying and extremely disturbing, as it showed a European lady saying quite candidly to the camera that she has to teach ‘them‘- the local servants – how to do everything, that they are very slow and simple-minded and even had to tell them not to serve champagne on a plastic tray.
They all MUST sing her a welcome home song when she returns from her villa overseas. She sits in the garden on a bench, with….how appropriate, a parasol, sipping on some lemonade as the servants sing to her (What images does this conjure up in your minds?). These servants are all outfitted in uniforms with hats. One of the female ‘servants‘ said to the presenter that her whole house was the size of the lady’s room she was tidying.
Another male servant says he ‘likes‘ when he gets lots of orders cause at least he would have something to do, rather than being bored. Sometimes the lady calls for a drink of water and wants it served to her in the garden – sometimes he makes this trip several times a day whenever she needs the water.
The presenter also interviewed some local fishermen who were likely and most probably will lose their property which faces the sea. Not that the sea will reclaim the land, no instead these men may or will lose their land that has been handed down to them for generations and would have passed to their children and grandchildren, to the real estate investors or to the non-nationals that are wiling to pay him $7 million, only to sell it again for ?15 million! on a website. The presenter researched the past of these beach properties that have now gained immeasurable importance, and found some rather surprising and ironic facts.
Back in the day of the aftermath of slavery, the beach property was left abandoned by the planter class for the newly freed slaves as it was thought that it would be illogical to build any house or to sustain life on beach property. Furthermore the concept of the itchy sand, the glare from the sun and the pesky sand flies were all reasons why the more attractive, lush, inland plantation properties were perceived as priceless.
The program showed that over 2/3 of the land on the west coast are in the hands of non-nationals. And the very few locals that are still there, are struggling to combat the land tax nightmare that goes along with having Sandy Lane, Royal Westmoreland, Glitter Bay and Port St. Charles within close proximity.
The interesting factor about this entire program was that the presenter was a non-national who was speaking with genuine and great concern for the future of Barbados and her children – Barbadians. He asked various non-nationals that if part of the reason for visiting the island was also to interact with the locals why are they encouraging these injustices to happen. He is of the opinion that the locals are being PUSHED out of their homes to accommodate non-nationals who ALREADY have their homes, sometimes more than one house in other parts of the world.
Ultimately, the program was a stark view of the realities of life in Barbados. For a long time, the ‘takeover‘ has been on going, unhindered, happening in absolute plain sight. What did we do?
In St. Lucia, unless the law has recently been changed, no one who is not St. Lucian can own property there. The land is leased to anyone for an agreed number of years. This concept is not unique for the Caribbean, there was an attempt by a few draftsmen to introduce and enact this legislature. But unfortunately, in was deemed unpopular and never enforced.
But who is to blame here? We are of course. The fields and hills that we once called our very own, now belong to someone else, who thinks we are ‘slow and simple‘, and that we don’t know or appreciate the true value of land, our land – Barbados. We have long turned our back our country. We have never paid an interest in her and what she means to us.
We have been too consumed with cars and motorbikes, sex and alcohol, the latest model in cell phones and what we will wear to the next ‘bashment’. We cannot accuse these ‘aliens‘ for stealing what was ours, all they did was appreciate what we have not. I truly love Barbados- the country and some of the people who live there.
This program made it real to me all that we have lost or given away. Barbados has become the ‘Prostitute of the World‘ – she never refuses high paying customers and tries wherever and whenever possible to be more attractive, alluring and accommodating to her customers with more hotels, extensive golf courses, exclusive restaurants and sports clubs that will never be accessed by the general populace.
But, its not entirely her fault, where would she have been without us, her ‘Pimps‘. From layman to politician, we have stood aside, passively or actively encouraging our beautiful country to be ‘shagged‘ by everyone else for the sake of buck$. Has it been worth it?
I once was born, was raised and lived on a beautiful island, which I dare to say was my very own……then. But after watching and cringing as I viewed what we have allowed to happen, I realise that I have lost my country before my own eyes.