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WILD COOT: Seeking asylum


Harry Russell

WILD COOT: Seeking asylum

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A man arrived at the front gates of Ilaro Court, Two Mile Hill, seeking asylum. His sexual orientation seemed to indicate that he was not mainstream – that is to say, he did not belong to the two per cent majority of Barbadians who enjoy islandwide freedom.
He was from over and away; and, from what he was saying, Barbados was the only place that he could freely practise his art. Although from CARICOM, he had paid for a visa.
He said that he had studied Barbados and that as far as crime was concerned, it had a low incidence, and even that was assiduously tackled. As for graft and dishonesty in the public service, the people here would feel insulted if offered a bribe (except for a few bad apples), even now that the travel allowances have been disconnected.
He said that he had come here before for a short vacation, without a visa, and was shopping at a local supermarket when his trolley happened to bump into another trolley and a woman whispered in his ear: “Apologize to the Prime Minister.”
He apologized and backed off, bumping into another trolley.
“Now,” said the lady “apologize to the Leader of the Opposition.”
He was shocked! There was no bodyguard or policeman nearby. The Prime Minister was dressed ordinarily and even had a piece of salt meat in his trolley.
In his country they would have closed the supermarket to other customers, and a garrison of soldiers would have stood outside of the supermarket.
The next day he went to the beach and there was the Prime Minister again holding court with his friends.
Thus, he was seeking asylum in a land where the tourists seemed to prefer to catch the buses full of natives and there was no apparent indication of fear or discrimination. He was seeking asylum in a land where nuances of shade of skin were no great inhibitor.  
The guard at the gates at Ilaro Court had a sense of humour. Instead of calling the occupants of the house, he called THE NATION, so as to publicize this spectacle. Within minutes, four carloads of photographers and journalists, including the Wild Coot, descended on Ilaro Court.
What we in Barbados had taken for granted was being held in awe by this asylum-seeker. It appeared that in his country he had criticized the Government’s budget.
One journalist shouted out: “We do that daily; we criticize the Minister or even the Prime Minister.”
A lady journalist sought to enlighten the gentleman.
“Drugs are a problem, but when we catch offenders we lock them up for 123 years or send them out in a boat and let the other islands deal with them. Our people do not siphon water or gas lines. We do not tap telephones or the Barbados Light & Power lines.
“We normally pay to see cricket when it is being played in other islands or abroad. This is a civilized island. We hope you are not here to spy on us. Do not think you can report back to your people that this is not a clean jurisdiction.
“We just strengthen the law pertaining to banking supervision so as to make money laundering and tax evasion more difficult.
“Our island is no paradise, but we have a direct line to Paradise. Occasionally we make calls; like when we need a new Government. Once every five years we get the politicians together, play ‘hiddy biddy’ to see who will sit in Parliament and who will not; but sometimes we speed up the process if we do not like what is happening – and we do not need international watchdogs to tell us when this should happen or for the process.”
“Lady,” said the asylum-seeker, “I only want peace and quiet from those that persecute me daily. Your island stands out like a beacon and I was told that tolerance is your motto. Please advise me where I can go to get asylum.”
“Just ask anybody and they will show you Black Rock,” said the security guard with a smirk.

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