THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY
FOR MOST Barbadians, Barbados’s becoming a republic means practically nothing, in this moment; but, in the future, it might mean everything, not just for Bajans, but for all o’ we who think of ourselves as West Indian.
Barbados could yet become the centre of what could be the second great human civilisation to have arisen out of small islands. West Indians have no technology to impart but we could yet give the world the gift we carry in our hearts: the love that survives everything, including slavery, indenture and hugely unjust treatment at every level from our very start.
Given time, our love can defeat every challenge and solve every problem. As a Trinidadian, held in the sway of trinities (holy or unholy), I see we need only do three things to take our rightful place in the world:
1. Look inward;
2. Find ourselves; and
3. Lose God.
We have let the outside world define us from our inception but we couldn’t help that, since most of us arrived here out of compulsion, not choice, and had no say in our own affairs until half-a-century ago. In the Great Famine, the Irish were rewarded for emigrating to America, penalised by being sent here. We came into being through extreme cruel violence, sustained for centuries – yet most Caribbean territories have avoided traumatically serious bloodshed, even at election time (except Jamaica and Guyana).
If we can buck our foreign masters and back ourselves, we small axes may find the little keys that can really open mighty doors. Our people leave our little rocks and reach the top of the steepest, highest mountains all over the world. If we can do it for them, we can do it for ourselves.
Our greatest obstacle to growth is the same as it always was: not the people at the bottom but the ones at the top, historically content to enjoy the Great House luxury even under the permanent threat of being burned down with them inside it.
Our brand of social organisation has spread to the world. The mega-rich of American cities today fly over the riots in their helicopters and, back in their day, our plantocracy cooked two whole feasts at a time, one to be visually enjoyed but not touched by their guests, a complete other to be consumed while it was still hot; and the rest of us were glad for cold, possibly poisonous food. We have to wean ourselves off luxury to recognise the only privilege worth anything: living in a just society.
To see ourselves, though, and our possibility, we have to forget about God, that great and useless pretender. All he has done, apart from sending “a little music to make we vibration raise,” is weakened us. As long as we bow down before an imaginary omnipotent force, we fail to live up to our own real power, the only thing we truly have.
Our ruling sector, though, will organise national days of prayer to fight crime even as they get rid of the police commissioner because they don’t like him personally – which is not defending him, professionally, merely observing that the people who hold the reins of power prefer to put themselves and us in the hands of a make-believe God they want to do their work; but it just doesn’t work that way.
All the great West Indian cricket teams had three or four Bajans in them and the greatest of our captains was Frank Worrell. If there is to be a great West Indian society, it will be built on the same foundation: no nonsense, solid Bajan self-reliance and stability.
Upon which, in the world of cricket, Jamaican might, island class, Trinidadian inventiveness and Guyanese finesse were lifted to sky-scraping heights. One large chain of small islands, separated by water and distance, unable even to practise together, dominated the cricket world for 15 years.
And were loved for the spirit with, and in, which we played.
Our people could do the same.
So welcome to Bimrock, upon which we might yet built a church worth our while: a secular one, of course.
BC Pires is a sceptical agnostic in relation to God and a devout believer in West Indians. Read the full version of this column on Saturday at www.BCPires.com