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BC’s B’DOS – It’s halloween, baby

B.C. Pires

BC’s B’DOS – It’s halloween, baby

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IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN HALLOWEEN 2009. I’d moved to Barbados in August 2008 and, for that entire first school year and more than half the first term of the new one, I’d been cresting the same little rise – Pine Hill, coming up the ABC Highway from Wildey – and sweeping down to Bussa without recognizing I’d ever been there before.
But I had.
Every day of my final year at Cave Hill.
In 1980-1981, every day, I rode my motorbike up Rendezvous Hill, along whatever the road was called before it was the ABC Highway, took left through what I suspect was the Pine, and went on, somehow, to the National Stadium and thence to UWI.
Every morning of life, 30 years earlier, I had actually gazed out across the valley from the same point at which I’d been cresting the same little rise every school morning for more than a year since moving here in 2008.
But the view was totally different. It took more than a year for me to recognize that the green expanse of 1980, the St George basin almost completely free of paved roads and concrete structures, was the same physical space I was looking at today – filled with roadways, housing, commercial and industrial buildings, and thousands of cars.
In 30 years, a single anthropological generation, what had been totally green as far as the eye could see had become “developed”.
Today is Halloween and the demographers at the United Nations proved they may be the only civil servants in the world with a sense of humour by choosing this day to recognize the official arrival of planet Earth’s seven billionth baby.
But what’s really frightening this Halloween morning is that a century ago, there were only 1.6 billion people on Earth. It took humanity more than 1 800 years to reach the first billion; but I was at secondary school when the four billionth person was born.
The five billionth arrived around the time of the coup in Trinidad, and the sixth in the year 2000; the six billionth baby of our kind was born only 12 years ago.
Most of us might think that populations will always tend to rise, no matter what, but most demographers seem to agree that the world population will stabilize, though there is great disparity between them over precisely what that figure will be.
Even if we’re lucky and we manage not to grow as a species beyond the most hopeful figure of under ten billion instead of what might seem a more realistic 50 billion, there are going to be a lot more of us Negroes around.
If you want to try to imagine what it will be like, next time you’re sitting in unmoving traffic heading down to Bussa from the Pine, look at Warrens’ high rises and remember that when Fidel Edwards was born, all you could see from where you’re sitting was a whole heap of sugar cane and a few trees.
Remind yourself that populations grow not arithmetically – 1, 2, 3, 4 – but geometrically – 5, 15, 45, 135 – and then try to imagine what 30 more years of rapid “development” is going to do to what you see today.
B.C. Pires is a zombie.