STREET BEAT: Rastas still feel pressure
TEMPLE YARD and its Rastafarian business community in Cheapside, the City are both rich with history and talent.
But they are also a people all too familiar with ignorance, scorn, and upheaval as evidenced by the suspicion some of them exhibited as to the true motives of the Street Beat team.
Still, most were generally forthcoming as to the trials and tribulations they faced as well as showing pride in being Rastafarian and a determination to survive and thrive.
“Moses” was in the area buying produce when the team arrived. Although he is now located across the street near Cheapside Market, he recalled when he started as part of what is now known as Temple Yard.
“Temple Yard started near Broad Street, in a place called Rocker’s Alley next to Cave Shepherd in town. The first fellow who moved there was Jah Spade but it wasn’t called Temple Yard then, it was just a place for Rastafari to conduct business but the people who controlled the area considered it to be an abomination so the police moved us to Temple Street and that was where Temple Yard was born,” he said.
Moses said the new location turned out to also be a temporary one as more “aggravation” followed which caused them to move to their present location. This was back in 2001 and while it seems the Rastafarian business community has found a permanent place to operate, there are tidings another move may be on the horizon.
Moses said there was no electricity in Temple Yard unless a generator was used. A fire in 2011 devastated the business area, and power has not been reconnected since.
“Government claim they would do something for us but they never have. It is about time rastas get respect and be treated like citizens of this country,” he said.
Ras Ilix Heartman is a sculptor and farmer. He too said they were all in limbo as they had no idea whether they would stay in Cheapside or not. He said the location was central but was still not as well-known as it should be. He also had some gripes with the organizations tasked to assist the creative artists of Barbados.
Heartman, whose business is called Black Diamond, said there were serious issues regarding being paid for work, taking issue with the National Cultural Foundation for being uncaring.
As for his unique art, some of his most interesting pieces were as a result of an accident. During the fire three years ago, most of his pieces were charred but still survived so Heartman turned the blackened pieces into new works of art.
Roger Yarde also has a long association with Temple yard. The operator of the ital food shop, Bonzo Ancient Food, he said it was not an easy thing to have to be constantly moving.
“It is not a matter of whether I like it here; it is a matter of always being displaced. I was at temple Yard from when it was in Broad Street and it is like a man building a house and getting it lick down all the time. Even all now, some people don’t even know we’re here,” he said.
Pamela Dixon is one of the few female Temple Yard business people. For almost 30 years, she has been operating Pam Run Things, where she makes slippers and jewellery. She said tourists liked the grassroots look of Temple Yard in comparison to the upscale looking Pelican Village but found there was a need for the area to be kept more clean.
“Here needs to be kept cleaner. We are big people but some people don’t keep it clean,” she said.
Dixon also pointed out a derelict building which she said used to be a meat market. During Tropical Storm Tomas, the roof was blown off and now rainwater collected inside and bred mosquitos. She said this was also something which needed to be taken care of.
Abuna Ramsay is proudly following in the footsteps of his father, Ras Akyem. He said he was an artist with any form but had a love of ceramics. As a relative newcomer to Temple Yard businesswise, he gave his impressions of Temple Yard.
“I have been here for around three to four years with this business although I have been here since I was a baby. We need electricity here but Government said we are not stable so they may move us again so right now I use a generator. There’s really no point in putting down roots,” he said.
Despite this, Ramsay said he had no plans of abandoning Temple Yard.
“Where it goes, I go,” he said. (CA)