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IT MATTERS TO MARIA: Souvenir ‘insult’

Maria Bradshaw

IT MATTERS TO MARIA: Souvenir ‘insult’

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HISTORIAN TREVOR MARSHALL has blasted a Barbados “souvenir calendar” which was produced in celebration of Barbados’ 50 years of Independence for including street character Redvers Dundonald Dyal, famously known as King Dyall, and referring to him as “Barbados’ leading cricket icon” and a “legend in his own right”.

“It is a distortion of history,” an outraged Marshall said of the glossy page calendar, which was produced in support of the Preservation (Barbados) Foundation Trust, a registered charity located at Tyrol Cot.

The calendar highlights the work and legacy of Barbados’ ten national heroes and depicts places of interest as well as other Barbadian scenes.

On the month of July, it has a photograph and bio of Barbados’ lone surviving national hero, cricket legend, Sir Garfield Sobers, as well as a picture of his statue and two photos of cricketers. Superimposed at the bottom of the page is a photograph of King Dyall dressed in his trademark suit, with pipe in mouth, standing atop a bright red cricket ball and overlooking Kensington Oval.

On the ball is written: “Redvers Dundonald Dyal, known as King Dyall, Barbados leading cricket icon. A legend in his own right.”

Who wrote these words? Marshall asked “What is their conception of icon and legend? Certainly the National Heroes such as Bussa, Sarah Ann Gill, Samuel Prescod and Clement Payne, were authentic black Barbadian heroes, who fought against racial bullying, colonialism, slavery and the oppression of black people. What did King Dyall do to rank among Barbados’ national heroes and to merit an inclusion in a souvenir calendar which is going to be circulated in our schools, colleges, universities?

Marshall added that it was a “gross insult” also to place the photo of Dyall on the page dedicated to Sir Garry.

He referred to “King Dyall as “one of Barbados’ most unapologetic haters of other black people”, pointing out that even though he was a huge cricket fan, he visited Kensington Oval during international matches not to support the West Indies but to embrace all opposing white teams.

“King Dyall is disqualified from occupying space in a document designed to enlighten and uplift black people of this island by reason of his career of verbal terrorism against his fellow-Blacks during the last ten years of colonial rule and the first 30 years of Independence.

“He can be compared to the lawless group ISIS, because he always attacked peaceful Bajan blacks, whose characters he assassinated, calling them ‘black cattle’, ‘black jackasses’ and ‘black rats’ because of his own racial self-hatred.

“He roamed the area between Lower Broad Street, Lakes Folly, Emmerton, New Orleans and Fontabelle, shouting profanity and invectives at Blacks, who differed from him starkly because they worked honestly for a living . . . King Dyal never worked a day in his life!

The historian added: “Through the leniency of Bajan-white cricket administrators, he gained free admission to Kensington Oval whenever teams from England, Australia and New Zealand played against the West Indies. He openly supported the white cricket teams as if he himself was white, all the while shouting crude invective and racially tinged insults at his fellow blacks.

Marshall charged that the calendar “contains an unforgivable insult to decent law-abiding black people, by including King Dyal as an “icon” and a “legend”.

“This calendar must be recalled and the comments about King Dyal must be excised from its pages, otherwise this publication stands condemned as the worst insult to black Barbadians in this 50th year of Independence,” said an irate Marshall.

Chairman of the Trust Sir Henry Fraser said: “King Dyall was a bizarre but outstanding ‘character’ in Barbados, who illustrated maximum eccentricity in an amusing way, which entertained many Barbadians and made him an iconic figure … perhaps legend was ‘a bit over the top’, but he was legendary in that he was known far beyond our shores and certainly unique!

He was at the same time creative and entertaining, irritating and amusing, with many contradictory elements – in a perfectly harmless way – rather like our Mother Sally, Donkey Man and Shaggy Bear . . . and he inspired many journalists, photographers and artists . . . His tiny portrayal as a maquette on the cricket ball, complete with white gloves and Panama hat, in no way detracts from the glorious portrayal of our great living national hero the Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers, to whom the rest of the page is devoted, with no less than four images and lengthy commentary!

He continued: “The contrast created by placing King Dyall on the same page is not intended to belittle him but meant to provide, I believe, the kind of ‘light relief’ that he himself provided whenever he appeared to much recognition and applause at Kensington Oval . . . and his loyalty to cricket was exemplary!”