Northern Drive to St Lucy

Northern Drive to St Lucy
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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Comments on Exocoetidea


Oft in childhood recollection
of the beach
many pleasurable moments
the mind did reach
roaming the shores
of Half-Moon Bay
naked bodies all splashed
with foaming spray
while on hillsides
donkeys brayed

So many wonders
of the Caribbean Sea
feet all wet
and silver sands
on the knee
as bleachers
and bathers
from far and near
with their kith and kin
the trees of coconut
with water that is very clear

Fisher folks have come
to throw their nets
as agile as ever
with no regrets
to harvest,
these flying fish

floating in hot sauce 
this is Bajans' delight.

They hurled those nets
in frenzy array, so... 
the aerobatics
are on disply in the air
and the flying fish battle rages

Callaloo plays the game
so... unfai!

Cou-cou on the stove top
dripping with okra strew...

Cou-cou done...

Stands on plate
waiting for flying fish
to land
while the wives of fishermen
young and old
are crying every Easter morn
not knowing
what next they must do

 The war of words is too profound
For the gilded heads
so they seek the lustre 
of the ocean bed
in preparation
for...the eminent flight...

They quickly surface
the water
for viewers in sight
leaping like a frog in midair 
then down again
with valour
and power

These grasshoppers
of the sea now disappear...

Resurfaced again without dread...

Their pectoral fins outstretched
they soar like a jet
the down with the nosedive

and they are very wet... 

With submarine topography
on the ocean floor
a thousand feet below or more
such fervid flight incomplete

For now they sleep
in a tropical ocean
that is so very deep

Far... Away... 
from nets
and noise fishermen do keep

 This social commentary poem is written in Free Verse. It is about a fish that has not only broken the ostentatious flying record but has created Flying Fish War of words between two Caricom islands that broke out in 2003. This war is between the “Land of Flying Fish” and the “Land of the Humming Bird”. This fish is from the family of Exocoetidae abundant in tropical and subtropical areas of the Pacific and the Atlantic and Indian oceans. They feed primarily on zooplankton that consists of animals, including corals, rotifers, sea anemones and jellyfish. Zooplankton is primarily found in surface waters where food resources are abundant. The predators of the flying fish are the dolphin fishes, tunas, billfishes, cetaceans and the pelagic sea birds. This species of fish broke the established record of 42 seconds set by fish that can fly in 2008 off the Coast of Yakushima Island when it established a flying record of 48 seconds. However, flying fish don’t actually fly like birds, they glide, but they do have wings. These wings are large pectoral fins that allow them to soar above the water at fast speeds to escape from predators. Flying fish are small fish with the shape of a herring, and silvery-blue seen jumping in and out of the temperate waters of the Caribbean Sea, Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Barbados is known as the “Land of Flying Fish” and Trinidad and Tobago is known as the “Land of the Humming Bird”. From the time Barbados became an inhabited island the flying fish was caught in nets by fisher folks in the waters of Barbados and this fish is a Barbadian delicacy. The flying fish is central to Barbadian culture. It’s featured on coins, stamps and menus where one have it baked, fried or steamed. It is purported that Barbadians taught the folks in Trinidad and Tobago the art of how to fillet flying fish in preparation for the dinner table and they in turn taught Barbadians how to prepare roti. The folks in Trinidad and Tobago never really appreciated this fish until their economy hit rock bottom when their oil-booming era collapsed in the early 1980’s. Their economy experienced negative growth of 26 per cent in 1983, 10.8 percent negative growth in 1984, negative 6.5 per cent in 1985, and negative 5.1 per cent in 1986; continued negative growth was estimated in 1987. This decline in their economy caused the Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, George Chambers in 1983 to state unapologetically that “the fête is over”. I experienced this decline in their economy while a college student in Trinidad. Since that time I have been a regular visitor to the Twin island Republic and as a CXC Examiner during the period 1980- 2002.

When the oil prices collapsed the economy in Trinidad and Tobago, they sought to revitalize their agriculture and fishing they neglected during their oil-booming years. Trinidad and Tobago turned their appetite on flying fish. So in 2003 this Flying Fish War of Words broke out between the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Barbados. Minister Eastmond from Barbados had the compelling task to resolve the conflict with several meetings with officials in Trinidad and Tobago with intended purpose to bring back flying fish to Cou-cou land from the beds in Callaloo country. He left office in 2011 without being able to bring an end to this fishing conflict still simmering. Now Prime Minister Freundel Stuart in 2013 is still negotiating a proposed fishing agreement with Trinidad and Tobago that would ensure flying fish return to Barbados their true lover. So during the 34th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Port of Spain, Prime Minister Stuart stated “that we should have a protocol in place that sets out the steps to be followed to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago is not compromised and that Barbados is not compromised and that fishermen and their families are not destabilized as a result from actions that may from time to time have to be taken in Trinidad and Tobago; we have not had a Fishing Agreement since about 1990. We’ve done not too, too badly without it, but we have to remind ourselves; I think it is very often forgotten that the word agreement means not what one person wants, but what two or more people consent to”. Barbadians are hopefully optimistic that regional integration initiative will solve the Flying Fish War of Words.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Comments on "Errol Walton Barrow, the Statesman"

Errol Walton Barrow, the Statesman

Found island a garden of villages,
Father of Barbados' Independence,
And plantations steep with British linkage.

1950, Barrow with contestants
Campaigned with vigor, for the St George seat
Which he captured, the House felt his presence.

Lawyer/economist was hard to beat
His platform, for progress and for reform;
The other side of the aisle was his meat.

Veteran of WW2 did transform;
The evil laws that ruled this great island;
That flowed with colonial chloroform.

The folds and wrinkles on the land he ironed
Out, left by self-serving occupiers;
From his vineyard, fruits we eat have ripened.

The poor no longer seen as pariahs;
By invaders surfing with blue-box gang;
The poor with the rich now are land buyers.

On his legacy Barbadians cling;
This independence needs no queen or king.

The poem “ Errol Walton Barrow, the Statesman” is about a Barbadian who gave Barbados it own flag, the “Broken Trident” and placed the “Union Jack” on the Barbados Museum’s shelve. He was no ordinary politician, he was a statesman who managed Barbados from a macro level and saw the relevance of Caribbean countries in the evolving geo-politics.

Historical facts revealed that Errol Barrow served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. He enlisted in the RAF on 31 December 1940 and flew some forty-five operational bombing missions over the European Theatre. By 1945 he had risen to the rank of Flying Officer and was appointed as personal navigator to the Commander in Chief, Sir William Sholto Douglas of the British Zone of occupied Germany. After the war he studied Law at the Inns of Court and economics at the London School of Economics concurrently, taking degrees in 1949 and 1950 respectively. He also served during that time as Chairman of the Council of Colonial Students where his contemporaries included Forbes Burnham, Michael Manley, Pierre Trudeau, and Lee Kwan Yew, all destined to become political leaders in their home countries.

He returned to Barbados in 1950 and was elected to the Barbados Parliament in 1951 as a member of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP). Feeling the fever of anti-colonialism he had inculcated during his student days in London, he quickly became dissatisfied by the incremental approach to change advocated by the party stalwarts. In 1955 he founded the Democratic Labour Party as a progressive alternative to the BLP. He became its leader in 1958 and the party won parliamentary elections in 1961 within his constituency of St. John. Barrow served as Premier of Barbados from 1961 until 1966 when, after leading the country to independence from Great Britain, he became Prime Minister. He served continuously in that capacity as well as stints as Minister of Finance, and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the next ten years. During this period he had lengthy affair with American musician and civil rights activist Nina Simone, who had fled to Barbados to avoid prosecution for tax resistance.

During his tenure the DLP government accelerated industrial development, expanded the tourist industry to reduce the island's economic dependence on sugar, introduced National Health Insurance and Social Security, and expanded free education to all levels.

Barrow was a dedicated proponent of regional integration, spearheading the foundation of the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) in 1965. Eight years later CARIFTA evolved into the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), when Barrow, together with Forbes Burnham of Guyana, Dr. Eric Williams of Trinidad & Tobago and Michael Manley of Jamaica enacted the Treaty of Chaguaramas to bolster political and economic relations between the English-speaking Caribbean territories.

After another landslide victory in 1971, the DLP returned to the electorate in 1976 for a mandate after two years of bitter controversy over constitutional amendments put forth by the government. Barrow, who had invited public comment on the amendments verbally lashed out at those who had been critical of what he viewed as a minor procedural change in the appointment of judges. A general economic downturn which affected most countries in the hemisphere contributed to a shift in public sentiment resulting in the party's election defeat. As an indomitable advocate of Caribbean sovereignty he fiercely opposed interference in Caribbean affairs. As opposition leader in 1983 he spoke out forcefully against the United States invasion of Grenada and he was scathing in his criticism of other Caribbean leaders who kow-towed to Washington in the hope of getting economic handouts:

“Mr. Seaga (Prime Minister of Jamaica, Edward Seaga) thinks that the solution to Jamaica’s problems is to get President Reagan to play Santa Claus. I do not believe in Santa Claus.”

In May 1986, after 10 years in opposition, Barrow was re-elected as Prime Minister in a landslide victory in which the DLP won 24 of 27 seats in the House of Assembly. The campaign was notable for an address he gave at a political rally some two weeks before the election which came to be known as the "Mirror Image" speech. In it, Barrow rhetorically asked Barbadians what kind of a future they saw for themselves when they looked in the mirror; contrasting a life of menial labour as an émigré in the developed world, or staying and building a strong and independent Barbados to rival other small states like Singapore. His re-election served as a catalyst for resurgent nationalism in the region, which by and large had subordinated itself to U.S. aid policy in the early 1980s. Barrow wasted no time in distancing himself from the "mendicant mentality" of his predecessors J. M. G. Adams (who was the son of Sir Grantley Herbert Adams the Prime Minister of the West Indies Federation formed on January 3, 1958 and was dissolved on May 31, 1962) and Bernard St. John. In his first press conference as Prime Minister he referred to Reagan as "that cowboy in the White House". In a British interview he characterized the President of the United States as "a zombie; he's programmed, a very dangerous person".

He chastised Washington for its treatment of not only the Caribbean states, but also of Canada and the United Kingdom, which he described as Barbados' closest allies. His political opponents deemed his attacks on Reagan as "tactically stupid", but for most Barbadians his outspokenness meant that "The Skipper" was back. A year after his re-election, Prime Minister Errol Barrow collapsed and died at his home on 1 June 1987, becoming the second sitting Prime Minister to die in office. By an act of Parliament in 1998, Barrow was named as one of the ten National Heroes of Barbados.  His sister, Dame Nita Barrow, also became a social activist, humanitarian leader and later Governor General of Barbados.

Indeed, Wikipedia has factually depicted the political career of Sir Errol Walton Barrow, the man I have known ever since I was given the right to vote at age 21 in 1964 though I never voted for him because my voting station was in Saint Lucy where the Democratic Labour Party candidate was Sir John Eustace Theodore Brancker who was adored by a substantial number of folks in the constituency of Saint Lucy who kept returning him to the Barbados Parliament for all the years he represented the Parish of Saint Lucy a Democratic stronghold ever since the birth of the Democratic Labour Party. Sir Theodore Brancker, the politician and lawyer fought for black rights, particularly suffrage, while a member of the Barbados parliament from1937-76. Saint Lucy was always a safe-seat for Theodore Brancker as he was affectionately called by the StLucyans.  He was born on February 9, 1909 and died on April 25, 1996.

The illustrious career of Sir Errol Barrow, who was the Leader of the Democratic Labour Party, influenced the creation of this social commentary poem “Errol Walton Barrow, the Statesman”, the First Prime Minister of Barbados. It is written in the Terza Rima format. consisting of tercet verses in iambic pentameter in English poetry. It uses an interlocking rhyme scheme of aba, bcb, cdc, and so on. This poetic form was created by the Italian poet Dante Alighiere in the late 13th century. He organized its structure with  five options [5]. Option five defines the structure of this poem where use is made of a rhyming couplet at the end of the last stanza, with the end-rhymes not rhyming with the end-rhyme of the second verse of preceding Tercet as shown in the excerpt below of the last three stanzas of the poem.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Comments on Errol Barrow Day

Errol Barrow Day

Today is a special day in Bimshire;
Birthday wishes rekindled with great cheer;
Joyful Bajans have all come out to spree,
On this special day filled with lots of glee;
Bells of praises are ringing through the land;
With thankful hearts, Bajans honor this man
Errol Barrow, who wore more than one hat;
A true statesman and a real democrat
Barrow, the Father of Independence;
And yet on his birthday of remembrance;
We speak of him through poems, songs and dance;
Independence for us, left not to chance;
This pilot, Prime Minister naturally;
He brimmed with affections eloquently.

Occasional poetry is often lyrical. Lyric poems typically express personal emotional feelings and are traditionally the home of the present tense. They have special rhyming schemes and are often, but not always, set to music or beat. Poets whose body of works featured occasional poetry that stands among their highest literary achievements include Pindar the Ancient lyric Greek poet from Thebas, Quintus Horatius Flaccus known as Horace who was the leading Roman lyric poet, Pierne de Ronsard, the French poet whom the French called the “prince of poets”, Ben Jonson the English poet, John Dryden the English poet, John Milton the English poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe whose body of works include lyrical poetry, William Butler Yeats the Irish poet and the French poet, Stéphane Mallarmé whose real name was Étienne Mallarmé.

In the 18th century, especially in Germany, occasional poems were often written by women. In the 19th and 20th centuries, news papers in the United States of America often published occasional poems, and memorial poems for floods, train accidents, mine disasters and the like were frequently written as lyrics in ballad stanzas. The most publicized occasional poem in first decade of the 21st century in Western World, was the free verse poem “Praise Song for the Day” composed and read by Elizabeth Alexander at the inauguration of President Barack Obama of the USA in 2009 before television audience which averaged, according to news reports, averaged thirty-seven point eight (37.8) million people.

Poetics of the occasion is where poets use verse to tell of things that have been. This poetic stance is what separates poets from historians who use prose to tell of things that have been. However, occasional poetry must not go too far afield from accurate representation of the facts, but must invest heavily in what immediately and actually occurred, and the onus is on poets to search out the inmost kernel and meaning of an event and most importantly determine the prevailing moral and ethical considerations, a position put forward in Hegelian aesthetics by the German, Georg Wilhem Friedrich Hegel in his philosophy of Fine Arts.

Occasional poetry whether composed for every day persons in the community or persons holding public office or have held public office, this type of poetry is written to commemorate single events or anniversaries, such as birthdays, founding or dedications.  The poem “Errol Barrow Day” falls into the category of public occasional poem. It pays tribute to the birthday of Sir Errol Walton Barrow which falls on January 21 a public holiday in Barbados. Sir Errol Walton Barrow, PC, QC was born on January 21, 1920 and died on June 1, 1987. His birthplace stands at the Garden a rural cottage on a small plantation which overlooks Maycocks in the parish of Saint Lucy, Barbados. Born into a family of political and civic activists in the parish of Saint Lucy, he was educated at Harrison College. He represented the parish of Saint John throughout his political career in Barbados, his constituents kept returning him as their representative. If any politician in Barbados had a secured seat in the Barbados House of Assembly it was Sir Errol Walton Barrow, the First Prime Minister of Barbados. 

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Haiti Under Rubble from 7.0 Earthquake

Natural disasters whenever and wherever they occur impact on all of our lives. The Good Book says we are our brothers and sisters keepers lead by the Holy Spirit. Hence, we must do our part when disaster shows its ugly face. Any assistance, great or small, given from generous and loving hearts has equal weight. I'm passing on this information I received that Barbadians can go to First Caribbean Bank to donate to the Disaster Relief Fund for Haiti. The banking information is shown below:

First Caribbean Bank Account--2645374-- Cheques can be written to: HELP #2645374

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