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MAVIS BECKLES: Happy Independence?


MAVIS BECKLES: Happy Independence?

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TODAY, AFTER FORTY-NINE YEARS, I still ain’t sure if I understand the true meaning of Independence. I don’t know if I should be happy about Independence as there doan seem tuh be any happiness in it fuh what looks like the majority o’ Bajans.

The night at the Garrison Savannah in 1966 when the British flag, the Union Jack, was lowered and the Barbados flag was raised, I was a teenager and one o’ the many thousands o’ people up there shouting and clapping. It was a beautiful spectacle. Although I didn’t fully understand every single thing ’bout it at the time, listening tuh my father, who was a very serious campaigner when election time come around, enlighten me a little.

It was not like Guy Fox day dat we used tuh celebrate wid star lights, bombs, bandits and fireworks. Duh stop bringing in all o’ dem things so, discontinued all o’ dat and we started tuh celebrate Independence. We now had something o’ we own tuh celebrate, ’cause I gine tell ya, up tuh today I still ain’t know nothing ’bout this Guy Fox man and why we used tuh celebrate him wid these kind o’ explosives. But all dat aside, every year after dat Garrison spectacle, the Independence celebrations used tuh be a real big thing.

But not now, I could say wid-out fear dat today it has dwindled tuh a few pieces o’ bunting stick on pon a couple o’ buildings here and there, a few lights dat is supposed tuh look like the national colours spotting up pon some buildings here and there but tuh be truthful, duh ain’t cutting it at all. The idea is a good one but the actual thing, it aint looking suh hot at all.

Schoolchildren does have tuh pay a small fee tuh wear the national colours on a particular day, and just not tuh wear dat school uniform duh does pay it. I was talking tuh some secondary schoolchildren from different schools after a Christmas rehearsal the other day and they let me know in no uncertain terms, dat dem gine be late fuh the rehearsals because after school dem does go and hang out wid dem friends and get on bad. Ya see, as far as they are concerned, nuhbody ain’t gine know which school they does go to. I tell ya, wha’ ya gine do wid these children today nuh?

But getting back tuh what I was saying bout Independence: It really and truly ain’t mean anything other than dat tuh some people, schoolchildren or otherwise. It is just another day. It ain’t got nuh real significance tuh some o’ dem.

Fuh me, when I think bout this Independence thing, I would like tuh feel and get on like the few people who does put a big-able Barbados flag outside duh house or the ones who would get a complete outfit made outta the national colours and proudly wear it all about. I would like tuh be like the people who now buying small Barbados flags and attaching dem tuh their vehicles. I think dat is nice but not fuh a nation dat is heading in tuh fifty years – it feels so low-keyed.

Some merchants like duh ain’t give two hoots; duh already bypass Independence and now fully in tuh Christmas advertising and decorations.

I hope before next year, the 50th year of being independent, the powers dat be put some serious thought in tuh the Independence celebrations and start early. And let me say to all of you: happy Independence.

• Mavis Beckles was born and raised in The Orleans. She has an opinion on everything.