Crop Over in Barbados 2011: Post Mortem: Alliances, Taxes or Taxing? ANALYSIS

Straight up? Kadooment really was KadooWENT this time around, the sweetness of the Barbadian festival for 2011 was not there – not even by way of Equal, Aspartame nor Splenda! For one thing the NCF yet again has a high-handed attitude towards bloggers who dare open their mouth, i.e. myself?

Earlier in the year when there was a Symposium where stakeholders and shareholders were supposed to feel free in being candid, the media segment were supposedly not allowed to record the event – however I shared my opinion on such Censorship. Now, the Bajan Reporter was kept out of the loop on NIFCA when usually the same Foundation was even willing to provide a Season pass, when the NCF asked how I felt in the aftermath, here’s what I shared, remember, these are opinions and not what may appear to the NCF as their own ideal ;-

One of the NCF shareholder meetings where recordings were prevented allegedly to allow for more open expression by participants - did they ask the audience first?

‘I am at a loss as to how to provide feedback since I was not privy to an All Access pass for events like Grand Kadooment, Pic O’De Crop or Cohobblopot like I was in 2008 (Nothing similar since then, having subsequently dared to question Ken Knight at one Press Conference and express opinions on Gabby Vs Admiral last year, even so far as objecting to being denied the right to record a meeting for Media personnel with the NCF’s new Chair of Monique Taitt; but then this is merely coincidental I am sure – right?), apart from never having been invited to a Crop Over breakfast where media houses (local & afar) are on hand to provide what many Bajans consider as a Homily assessment?’

It would be equally rude of me to assume there is some form of discrimination after publicly pointing to BTA’s lack of updating their Facebook page last year, when their Director Of Mktg refused comment to Bajan Reporter and the Minister of Tourism promised an investigation – of which I am yet to hear the results?’

Minister Sealy disavowed knowledge of BTA's Facebook page being obsolete in 2010, yet he never chose to dorectly comment on the matter - only mentioning that Social Media is crucial to Barbados' tourism drive...

I am sure Averil Byer had no axe to grind and would have LOVED to grant me Accreditation for Rihanna’s LOUD concert as the climax to Crop Over 2011? It would be an absolute crime to assume she may have colluded with yardfowls more sensitive elements of NCF to decide an embargo against Bajan Reporter to ensure BR is more cooperative in future? Such a notion is wild conjecture bordering on Science Fiction worthy of Roger Zelazny!’

The few results received for this Kadooment were issued in a somewhat hap-hazard manner for choice of placements this year and at the same time, regretfully I had a few assignments which clashed with Press Conferences for launches of various events this year.’

I’d hate to think this was the raison d’etre for denying me correct accreditation for coverage? Or even worse, when one realises on the little data I did get, I dared to express opinions outside what is considered the Herd Mentality by Media Houses wishing to possibly secure advertising for Korean vehicles and other similar goodies? Not making fact, just offering potential comments which are not necessarily to be construed as ipso facto, rather a suggestion of “what-if“…’

Bearing these factors in mind it is not unlike if, to quote Roger Zelazny, “In my mind I searched, through forests of memory, for a ghost-sword in a stone of smoke” – so to have me offer feedback on events not covered is rather moot, nicht wahr?’

It appears not only myself was in the doghouse this Crop Over, when Mia Mottley had her annual shindig at Shenstone in Strathclyde to help raise funds to complete building for the Lyndens’ Children’s Home, not only was she in Coventry with her own BLP but Mara Thompson, Chris Sinckler, Adriel Brathwaite and Donville Inniss were critiqued by DEM hierarchy for fraternising with the former Opposition Leader – ironic when one considers that the late JMGM “Tom” Adams and national Hero, the Right Excellent Errol W. Barrow were well-known patrons of the Old City Bar on Palmetto Street after many a heated session in Parliament, sharing a laugh and a snap as to how they made the other snap in the House…

Apparently, both Owen & Freundel were foaming at the mouth that such camaraderie between the Ruling Party and Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition was existing... Is this because they feel relations should be similar to the Cold War or jamaica's political tribalism? Or is there a possibility that not only elections are near, but so too for a different Party Engine to question the time-hionoured decision of TweedleDumb or TweedleDumber?

(Some even wondered if it was a Cabal to create a 3rd new political party, Ms Mottley personally disparaged such allegations to me – however, I’d respect her the more should she make so bold… I’d put my vote for sure to see if it really can make a difference!)

However, when one approached the Official Government stance of Crop Over, you’d swear you had dropped into an Alternate Universe;-

The music trucks have been retired and the feathers and sequins have been put away, but memories of Crop Over are ever present in the minds of Lana and Lindorf Blakely, who made their way to Barbados for the first time this year.

The couple, who hail from Dallas, Texas, explained that their decision to come to Barbados was not a random one. After much research and discussion, the seasoned travellers, who have visited other tropical destinations, including Jamaica, the Bahamas and Belize, decided to come see what Barbados was all about.

“{We decided to come} because of the marketing of the country via internet and word-of-mouth. A friend had experienced {Crop Over} and suggested it to us,” they revealed. Having spent weeks online reading about the various activities and sites, and of course, the weather – which the Blakelys’ said was true to the forecasts – they took the plunge.

Speaking about their first impressions of the island, Lana and Lindorf declared that they hit the ground running as soon the plane landed: “It was night when we arrived but we were excited about what the next day would bring! We checked into the hotel and headed straight to Oistins for our first taste of flying fish & Banks Beer, following the advice of our taxi driver, Tyrone. While eating at Oistins we even got a bonus – we were serenaded with karaoke!

During their five-day stay, the Blakelys embraced the culture and all the country had to offer. They sampled the cuisine and braved public transportation– that experiment, however, turned out to be a lengthy one and the couple opted to take taxis for the remainder of their stay.

While they report no major issues during their trip, one challenge came in the form of understanding dialect, which they described as: “…a little difficult or should we say, our brains could not comprehend as quickly as the locals were speaking. We found ourselves saying,Say that again’, orCan you slow down a littleonly to hear it repeated at the same speed!” they recounted with a laugh.

Noting that not even the persistent rain could dampen their spirits, the couple described their foray on Kadooment Day with one word – ‘awesome’- and explained that Barbados offered something special which made their trip unique: “We were able to interact with the locals and felt comfortable in doing so. There seemed to have been a connection with them. Everyone we met was very friendly and helpful in moving about,” they related.

When asked to speak about some of the more memorable moments and people, Lana’s immediate response was: “Wukking up, for sure! Liming with the locals at the rum shops, and being thrown off of the catamaran by a huge wave – {and} I don’t know how to swim.

I met a lady by the name of Celeste {on Kadooment Day} and there’s not a day that passes that I don’t hear her calling my name... {and} Beulah was the best cocktail waitress anyone could ask for at the Bajan Roots and Rhythms. Our glasses never went empty. Lots of Mount Gay Rum!” Mr. Blakely recounted happily.

Though there are more differences than similarities between Barbados and their hometown, Dallas, the Blakelys said that their city has much to offer tourists as well, including “its southern hospitality, various cultures, and warm weather”.

Lindorf explained that along with a vibrant nightlife, the city boasts various attractions, including the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park.

Lana added that sports fans would also feel at home, as the city features teams such as the Dallas Cowboys and the 2011 NBA Champions, the Dallas Mavericks, who are corporate partners with the Barbados Tourism Authority. Mrs. Blakely declared that there are activities for persons of every taste: “{There are} museums, plays, symphonies, the State Fair and ladies, the shopping is off the chain!” she revealed.

When asked if they would return to Bim’s shores, the response was an unhesitant “yes”; however, there was one thing they would change next time around – an extended stay on the island to see more, do more and enjoy more of Crop Over. (CROP OVER – LINKING CULTURES: A BGIS NEWS FEATURE)

This was when P. Boyce was depicting an old man now trying to understand the Internet - his ignorance as a Senior Citizen was too realistic for when he made what many considered a disparaging remark on Guyanese who migrate to Barbados...

This was not what Manager of Celebration Time calypso tent – Peter Boyce – feels, he sees Kadooment 2011 and especially next year as not being a very profitable cultural extravaganza…

For the VAT office to ask promoters to pay Vat on free tickets is an act which is sure to create even more hardships on cultural industries.

Calypso tents already requested for an ease from VAT but instead, are now faced with this onerous demand which will serve only to destroy a sector which is already suffering.

This draconian demand is yet another example that the government is not sincere in their stated objectives of developing cultural industries.

It is unfortunate that in these hard economic times government should choose to inflict this vicious and unfair demand which calls on promoters to pay for items which are free and they receive no money for.

Peter’s assessment seems on the surface to be a fair objection – how can one demand a fee when it is for a service where no originating fee was incurred? Much the same way many Bajans wonder how can Road Tax be expected when there are no ongoing maintenance of Barbados’ motorways to justify a lien which was increased by 100% since 2008?

Ishiaka's Social Commentary songs were very clever this year and obviously well thought-out

Nevertheless, Peter himself needs to look at the output of Celebration Time – the show has many sponsors and is in a good location, yet when you can see a wash of veteran performers walk out early, who came to check on Judging Night, one has to pause and take stock of what is happening with your product…

Tentmates and improving calypsonians Khiomal and Ishiaka had excellent social commentary tunes this year, however what marred these excellent performances were a number of factors connected to Celebration Time’s management itself… When Peter did a skit where he was internet dating a Dominatrix this hilarious in itself, but at one point he was relating to the other “Senior” how she wants to put on a Maid outfit (As in Roleplay), he then makes a guess her nationality is Guyanese? What, because she wants to clean for an old Bajan? That is Stereotyping and also known as Profiling, Peter, would it be funny if a white Bajan is on stage saying he is expecting a subsidy from Government for Rally Cars while holding his hand out to a Gline Clarke look-alike?

However, this is not what made Colin Spencer, Win Callender or Stedson “Red Plastic Bag” Wiltshire up and leave the Plantation Garden Theatre – it was when Peter’s son as Reddman was doing what amounted to a dry backshot with Queen T for a song and the camera angle for the large screens deliberately made it look as though the bare-chested youth was naked while assaulting the female entertainer as if it was a vigorous sexual encounter. It made Trinidad’s Denise Belfon look like a Saint! Talk about aiming for the Lowest common Denominator, sex sells, granted – but  why not have Nelson St Madames serve drinks then? No wonder Crop Over’s Senior Elders were dismayed and showed their disappointment via departure… It was no dignity for women – perhaps if Peter had daughters instead of sons he may have thought twice?

For sure, Crop Over 2011 was not so sweet and what with the sugar Industry at its nadir, is there any point in calling it Crop Over? Let the sugar stay in Barbados and be handled by the local rum distilleries rather than waste it by selling it to Europe for a pittance, and ensure at least our National Beverage is local in its entire content?

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