More on Skeete’s Bay: “A Way of Life: Ah had a roast potato and Digga dog eat um!” by BABA ELOMBE JAKUTA MOTTLEY

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In the years preceding the Bussa Revolt in 1816, an African-born man, a slave at Three Houses plantation, took the name of his slave master. The owner’s name was Brathwaite. This man was so trusted by his master that he was permitted to marry/lived wid a white woman who owned about 50 acres south-east of Three Houses. According to the Historian Ronnie Hughes, when the African’s wife became iil, she made arrangements for some freedmen to look after her estate as slaves could not inherit property.

{FILE IMAGE - COURTESY: Damon Corrie} " ... Somehow I don’t think it is a way of life you are trying to protect but an exhibition of fear that someone would want to spend half a billion Barbados dollars, BDS $500, 000,000.00 on one of the bleakest parts of Barbados. What is it that Boyle and his investors know that generations of Philippians don’t know?"

This African man Brathwaite, used to walk from Three Houses to his wife’s property every day after he finished his master’s work to manage the small property and to look after his children. He subsequently got married/live wid again, this time to the outside daughter of his master with a black woman.

Among the descendents of Brathwaite, the African man, are: Trinidadian Prof Lloyd Brathwaite, one of the founders of Caribbean sociology and former Principal of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus; Grenadian Sir Nicholas Brathwaite, interim Prime Minister of Grenada after the failed revolution; and Barbadian Prof Farley Brathwaite, a former Dean of Social Studies at The University of the West indies at Cave Hill.

Brathwaite, the African man, was manumitted in 1816 after the Bussa Revolt. His life after that was very ordinary.

It was a way of life.

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My father spoke of him with reverence and I needed to see him and hear and talk to him. The search was long, he seemed to have disappeared but no one suggested that he was dead, so I just kept asking for him.

He was a financial baker. People paid him to bake for them. “He was my uncle. He was one of the 16 children that my grandfather had coming marriage wise! My grandfather had 32 children, 16 lawful, 16 unlawful,” said his nephew Alvin Bradshaw. Two of those children were from two white women in Marley Vale, St Phillip.

{FILE IMAGE VIA: Damon Corrie} "...it was still a very small village with one shop operated by a woman called Irene. It was just past the pond at the entrance to the village. The houses were chattel, those with the gables not the flat roofs, and they were all perched on soft stone blocks at the corners and beach stones packed between to keep the ducks and chickens under the cellar..."

His name was Lindy Bradshaw and he was a guitarist, a street troubadour and I eventually found him in a shop in Woodbourne, just West of Four Square Factory one Sunday afternoon. I recorded three hours of music after which he did what he liked best and that was drinking a nip bottle of white rum and eating salt fish and a salt bread.

It was a way of life.

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She was a handsome black woman and as a young girl she caught the attention of all the young boys who always wanted to play “Hiddy Biddy” with her but her grandmother always kept her under wraps and never letting her out of her sight except when she went to school at St Patrick’s Primary School.

And when she left school at thirteen, Nin-nin, as she called her grandmother, took her to work at the big house at Four Square where she worked as a washer woman. Soon the inevitable happened and the master offered her a job as a house maid which her Nin-nin readily agreed to as it was the master’s request even tho slavery had ended over 60 years before.

In no time she was pregnant with a baby girl that she eventually named Eveline and the planter who had no other children, doted on his little girl. He rewarded her mother with a shop in Woodbourne.

When his Eveline reached marrying age, her father searched all over Barbados to find a white man to marry her. His offer to the prospective son-in-law was to give him 6 or 7 plantations and make him the richest man in St Phillip. He found a poor white who was an overseer at Sweet Bottom, St George by the name of Smith. Mrs Eveline Smith immediately and magically transcended her colour and joined the plantocrats in the Savannah Club. They lived at Thickets which is North West of Three Houses and West of the fishing village Bayfield, better known as Mason Town.

Eveline had two children, a boy and a girl. The girl was known as Brown Sugar although she was baptized Florence. She grew up and married a New Zealand sailor called Commander Norman Daysh.

It was a way of life.

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In the 1970s I took many young people who were members of Yoruba and came mainly from the urban areas to visit rural villages to meet with everyday people, to learn from them about their way of life and get them to share with us the songs and the stories of their youth.

One of the villages we visited was Bayfield. Then, it was still a very small village with one shop operated by a woman called Irene. It was just past the pond at the entrance to the village. The houses were chattel, those with the gables not the flat roofs, and they were all perched on soft stone blocks at the corners and beach stones packed between to keep the ducks and chickens under the cellar.

Most of the men were fishermen and we spoke to three of them, Horace, Thelbert and Sidney, their skins bronzed by the sun and salt, their personalities large, open and exuberant. The women, Ada and Marie, equally vociferous were housewives and fish sellers and worked sometimes as domestics at the few bayhouses that nestled between the casuarina trees on the edge of the cliff blocking the view to the sea. They were all Masons and Bayfield was known as Mason Town.

We sat in front of Irene’s shop and I told them what I wanted. I wanted songs and stories that they learned from their parents and friends in their youth. It was a harvest. They gave me songs they created, they gave me drinking songs, departure songs, ancient British and Irish songs, songs from Guyana, Black American folk songs, They sang them with gusto, they improvised, they corrected each other, but they delivered a treasure trove that delineated a way of life that has now passed. {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO}

At one point I asked about sea shanties, songs that were used to launch fishing boats or to co-ordinate the strokes of rowers (no engines in those days), and out came the work chant “Ah had a roast potato and Digga dog eat um.”

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Dear Mac, Dear Bag, the four stories above are about ways of life in Eastern St Phillip, now gone but each in its own way was important to the development of St Phillip over the last nearly 200 years. These are but four small snippets to tantalize your palates and to gently chastise you about protecting “our way of life” in St Phillip. I am choosing you both but I am really addressing the whole of St Phillip.

Somehow I don’t think it is a way of life you are trying to protect but an exhibition of fear that someone would want to spend half a billion Barbados dollars, BDS $500, 000,000.00 on one of the bleakest parts of Barbados. What is it that Doyle and his investors know that generations of Philippians don’t know?

I agree that one should be cautious of Greeks bearing gifts but we have the record of Doyle and his Associates and the success at the Crane which is now the largest hotel in Barbados. So in light of this, we must assume the project is viable and real.

Now I agree to the objections, but for different reasons. So what are you and the residents objecting to? The use of a big rock in the sea that nobody in the history of Barbados ever used except to pick wilts from? A Fish Market that has been abandoned and hardly used after the Masons of Bayfield having made sure their children got education to get better jobs and enjoy a better way of life don’t have to fish for a living?

OK, Mr Doyle shudda ask first, which he probably did. Protesting is one thing. A different action is now required.

The Crane is now the biggest resort in Barbados and there is still more action to come in the near future at Sam Lords Castle site. Questions!

• Where are the Bajan restaurants? Not just Bajan food, but the presentation of Bajan food as cuisine (cf Rosemary Parkinson’s Bajan Bunbun)

• Where are the night clubs? Not just Bajan muscic, but Bajan music in a context.

• Where are the art Galleries?

• Where are the donkey cart rides? Nothing unique bout Benzes, Bimmers and what nots.

• Where are the boutiques selling clothes designed by Bajans?

• If fishermen still operate from Skeete’s Bay, why can’t they develop deep sea fishing trips for your new visitors (relevant safety procedures in place)?

• What about fish-frys and pork pits?

• Mac, how come you can’t come up with a plan to sell costumes to these temporary Phillipians to play mas’ in the mature St Phillip Carnival (need a more original name) Festival? Papa Fingall was tea party chairman. That’s your heritage. Want some speeches?

• Bag, why not write musicals and have weekly performances for these visitors (and the rest of the island) that tell some of the stories like I gave at the beginning of this article? Why you can’t perform with your guitar? There are stories to be told! I know you can do it.

Elombe Mottley, founder of the Yoruba Foundation which had many wonderful dances in Fontabelle not far from where Advocate now is...

{FILE IMAGE - Author} " ... In the 1970s I took many young people who were members of Yoruba and came mainly from the urban areas to visit rural villages to meet with everyday people, to learn from them about their way of life and get them to share with us the songs and the stories of their youth."

How to do it? You can do so individually. You can do so as a co-op. You can come together and form a company owned by all the residents who want to participate and plan such developments. Give Skeete’s Bay an identity. {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO}

As Thelbert Mason said to me about how they used to get all of them to work as a team to get the boats out to sea, “Ah had a roast potato and Digga dog eat um. Pull boys pull!

Doan let Doyle dog eat wunna roast potato. Sell dum a way of life.

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