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Browne’s Beach too precious to be taken away

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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As a result of a protest launched by Mac Fingall, Stedson Wiltshire, and other residents of St Philip, the eyes of the Barbadian people are fixed on Skeete’s Bay.
But the People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) wishes to warn that an even more prominent and culturally important beach is in danger of being taken away from native Barbadians and turned into an enclave for wealthy, white North American and European tourists. We refer to none other than the world famous Browne’s Beach that extends across the length of Carlisle Bay in the parish of St Michael.
Browne’s Beach is reputed to be one of the finest beaches in the world, and, along with Brandon’s, is the beach of choice of the black, working-class people of Barbados. It is also a beach that is famous in the native literature of Barbados.
Our very own national poet laureate – Kamau Brathwaite – virtually grew up on Browne’s Beach, and was so shaped by this experience that Browne’s Beach became the spiritual and cultural source and centre of a number of his most important poems.
Go to Brown’s Beach any day of the week, and you will find hundreds of black Barbadians communing with each other, and enjoying this magnificent and priceless component of their birthright. Indeed, many Barbadians will tell you that Browne’s Beach is their health spa and doctor combined together, for it is the place where they escape from the stresses of life and rejuvenate their spirits.
We in the PEP were recently shocked to learn that one or more business consultants are currently engaged in developing a plan to offer up Browne’s Beach as the location for a number of foreign, brand-name hotel companies to construct opulent five-star hotels on this most loved of beaches.
According to these people, we Barbadians should be willing to let go of national assets like Browne’s Beach because we are dependent on foreign exchange, and foreign companies are well equipped to market their properties internationally and to bring additional thousands of precious tourists to our shores.
These capitalist businessmen talk as though the people of Barbados only exist on the material plane – as though we Barbadians are similar to pigs whose only purpose in life is to be fattened. They all seem
to overlook that we are human beings with spiritual, cultural and psychological yearnings and needs.
Well, before this private sector-driven idea of turning over Browne’s Beach to “foreign brand-name hotels” gets any further, the PEP is hereby firing a warning shot across the bow of our Ministry of Tourism, and indeed, across the bow of the entire Cabinet.
And we are telling them that Browne’s Beach is much too sacred to the native people of Barbados for us to stand idly by and permit it to become an alien zone that is effectively off-limits to us.
As it is, we Barbadian people are already sharing Browne’s Beach with a sizeable number of North American and European tourists. And we are happy to do so. But a balance must be maintained, and Browne’s Beach must never be permitted to become one of your typical West Coast beaches – beaches that native Barbadians feel no longer belong to them.
Thus, if there is to be any further tourism related development along Browne’s Beach, let us ensure that it is limited and that it is owned by and evocative of Barbadians. And let Browne’s Beach always remain a place where Barbadians feel at home.
• The PEP column represents the views of the People’s Empowerment Party. Email [email protected]