THINGS BAJAN: Barbados Landship
THE BARBADOS LANDSHIP is a cultural organisation known for its entertaining parades, performances and dances.
Members mimic the British Navy, dressed in naval uniforms and marching and performing to the music of the tuk band.
However, it is a lot more than entertainment.
The organisation was started in Barbados after Emancipation, by the earliest plantation workers of African descent to help them develop socially and economically.
Each community had a Landship. It was based on a cooperative system, operating within communities and providing common services to them.
The Landship has been an oral tradition handed down from members to members from the time of its establishment in 1863. It is held among the ranks of Barbados’ cultural symbols such as the “Mother Sally” and the “Shaggy Bear”, but in much more esteem as a “cultural icon unique to Barbados”.
It is thought that the Landship existed long before it became officially established and that its ways were practised within the plantation communities of African slaves long before Emancipation.
This would account for the interpretation of Landship manoeuvres as re-enactments of the Middle Passage.
The Barbados Landship continues to be a vital part of the cultural landscape of Barbados. It takes part in the annual Independence Day Parade as well as in Crop Over, Holetown Festival, Oistins Fish Festival, NIFCA and other events. (From The Archives)