Who are we? Who are you?
by Baba Elombe Jakuta
Saturday Night Fish Fry
You don’t have to pay the usual admission
If you are a cook or a waiter or a good musician
So if you happen to be just passing by
Stop in at the Saturday Night Fish Fry.
– Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five
Martin’s Bay like a loop. A loop that curls like a noose to knot a shallow beach between a black scarred reef and a black macadam road. Potted once upon a time in the sands were singularly lean coconut trees to shelter this fragile loop of beach in a speckled shade. That was a time when fishing boats had sails. A distant loop from a distant past where the sea salt blinded ambition.
And Martin’s Bay people always lingered in my mind as having a sense of privacy that was uniquely their own. There wasn’t much land but what there was was planted with bay houses and homes held precariously together by rust and paint.
Martin’s Bay is an outpost. As far from the tourist industry as imagination can make. Not interesting enough to force the tourist buses down the loop. Not even to see the remnants of a long gone train or to hear the strains of the mythical and mystical Brumley band hiding in the wind.
Martin’s Bay today is sedate and settled but how I would like to see a Martin’s Bay Saturday Night Fish Fry on the slender beach, replete with Sam Lord’s lanterns and Julian Hunte bonfires, roast breadfruit, fried plantain, potato pickings (the extra sweet potatoes) and other delights.
In a two by four island like ours everything counts. There should be no wasteland.
Tourism has developed as an industry far removed from the rest of us. It was precious to a few, hoteliers by and large, who saw their properties as oases in a dessert of primitive yahoos. And who used to get every concession, tax free holidays as if they did tourist themselves, tourist from taxes. And to some others the historical sojourn in plantation houses with silver forks was touted as the places to see.
As far as planners and developers expect, we are to be the hewers of wood and carry water buckets on our heads forever. And regardless of how sophisticated everything appears in Barbados, there are now some sophisticated hewers of wood and some sophisticated water bucket carriers. Continue reading