Addington Forde devotes his energies to the promotion of the country he loves. (Picture by Reco Moore.)
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BARBADIAN PROVERBS ARE expressive and unique in their interpretation.
When a mother warns her potentially wayward young daughter “Wuh sweeten goat mout does bun he tail” or the vulnerable victim of unfair treatment is told “high wind know where old house live”, the meaning may be completely foreign to the person being admonished.
It is for the reason Addington Forde has spent many years collecting these old Bajan sayings and preserving them in a book he called The Mortar Pestle.
As his first book, Forde based it on the proverb “There is more in the mortar than the pestle.” He wrote it many years ago while he was a student at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus.
He is now writing his 12th book, continuing to chronicle aspects of Barbados that set this dot in the Caribbean Sea apart.
“Every single day I am conscious of the fact that I live in a beautiful and fantastic country. It is physically beautiful,” says Forde. He said he has travelled to about 20 other Caribbean countries, and found that with the exception of Trinidad and Jamaica, “we probably have more places of interest”.
He is a country boy, born in Supers, a district in the parish often referred to as “the Republic of St Philip”. His family later moved to Three Houses in the same parish.
Reflecting on his childhood, of a carefree life in the country, “I remember that as boys we used to play all day long. We would go down in what is now Three Houses Park and pitch marbles ‘til it is so dark you we couldn’t see.”
Parents never worried about where their sons were, according to Forde. They trusted the children to be responsible in their behaviour when they were out of a parent’s sight.
“We didn’t have this gang mentality, there weren’t any drugs and your parents never worried. Not that they did not care, but it was your responsibility to ensure you were somewhere proper,” Addy said.
The group of boys had “little disagreements” but never fought, though this Lodge School alumnus recalled disputes among schoolboys were settled in “fist-to-fist fights,” which were allowed as long as it was not a case of bullying.
A father of three, Forde still remembers how his parents forbade him from going to the sea until he was a teenager and then he joined friends on the trek to Consett Bay for some beach fun.
It was also during those teenage years that one day he discovered he was the only one among his group of friends still playing with the rollers and the tractors he had made. At that time he still making kites and indulging in board games like warri and potter and chasing down his friends in a game of lagging, aiming to score a hit on them with a ball he made out of cloth knitted with a nail.
He also enjoyed sessions of skipping with the scratch whisk vine despite the misery of the uncomfortable itching of the skin from the vine’s sap, long after the skipping was over.
Forde has recorded boyhood activities such as these in his books and he continues to collect material for more books. His interest in things Bajan has placed him in a position where his judging expertise has often been sought after for kite-flying competitions Easter Bonnet parades, calypso, poetry and handwriting competitions, organised by communities across the island.
The former officer of the National Cultural Foundation took his wide knowledge of Barbadian culture to that job. For 18 years he was also a teacher of English, art and history at the Princess Margaret School in St Philip.
This Barbadian has visited Greece’s Athens Acropolis, Canada’s Niagara Falls, Peru’s lost city of Machu Picchu, Britain’s Buckingham Palace and Madame Tussaud’s wax museum among many other places in his travels, but nothing he has seen excites him like Barbados’ geology, geography and scenery.
“In Barbados there is always a hill providing a view and you can see far” says the Bajan who boasts of having driven around the island more than 100 times. “I never get tired of showing this island’s beauty to the visitor,” he said.
“I am conscious we have a good mix of the urban and the rural and so you have your shopping areas and your commercial areas but five minutes later you could be out in the country.”
He still believes he lives in a safe place and does not feel threatened, despite news about violent incidents here from time to time. Confidently he says: “You can stop your car and pull up under a tree and read a book. You can’t do that in these big countries. You either gine get rob or police gine come and ask what you doing there,” said Forde, lapsing into Bajan dialect which gave more punch to his expression.
“I have done a lot of things. I am not easily excited. Wherever I go, whenever the plane lands back in Barbados I feel a sense of peace,” said the Philipine.
If there is one thing of which he is sure it is that: “I love Barbados and I would not live any place else.”