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GET REAL: Hope for Bashment Soca


ADRIAN GREEN

GET REAL: Hope for Bashment Soca

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LONG AGO, when the Mighty Sparrow and his girlfriend were in financial difficulties and he was having trouble supporting her and her pet cat, the most respected calypsonian of all time advised the woman to “Sell de pussy, lewwe get some cash.” Calypso has long time been on the edge of society’s standards of decency. If bashment soca seems shocking and too far out to you, it may be because the society’s edge of decency has gone further out as well. Or maybe you’ve just grown up.

This is not a defence of bashment soca, just an observation of the hypocrisy that surrounds it. Bashment soca is de young people ting. Young people will push the envelope. It’s biological.  It is necessary. Without new generations innovating and experimenting, the result is decades of “Days of Our Lives” and endless reruns of Professor Henry Fraser’s enlightening “The Silent Sentinels.” 

Elders are meant to facilitate, educate, guide, hand over the reins, and marvel at the workings of young minds. Elders who are aghast at what young minds have wrought, can call themselves Dr Frankenstein. Bashment soca was created in the laboratory of the society you manage.  Feel guilty or be proud. 

Bashment soca is your baby and it is beautiful because it is yours.  Embrace it and hold it close.  Facilitate it, educate it, guide it and help it to grow.  There is no telling what that child born to your broken home will become.

We have a history of infanticide, and abandoned children. There are stories of enslaved Africans who would abort their babies or even kill them after birth, rather than have their children’s growth stunted under the weight of the unprecedented barbarism of Trans-Atlantic slavery. The children who had the fortune or misfortune to survive eventually learned to conform to the limitations of their confinement.  Enslaved Africans took the shape of the plantation and became Barbadian slaves.

As long as you are “enslaved”, you maintain hope of one day being free.  Once you become “a slave”, hope of freedom seems futile. The hope of human beings is expressed in their attitude to their offspring in whom the embryo of the future lives. As long as humans can reproduce, hope springs eternal. Under chattel slavery, black Barbadians were seen as less than human. Our children were not our own. We were breeders for the sake of the plantation. Hope must be hard to synthesize in this kind of situation.

Imagine the struggle to maintain the sense of yourself as a loving parent with the reality that you were caretaker of a child that was plantation livestock.  Imagining looking at your newborn baby and seeing no hope. You would raise Massa’s property as your own, but emotional abandonment would be a means of dulling the pain. The way parents relate to their children in a society affects everything.  An emotionally vacant parenting style becomes dominant in post traumatic slavery syndrome. Emotional abandonment became the Barbadian way of life.

We have emerged from centuries of experience and practice in emotional abandonment. As Bob Marley sang, “300 years of slavery is not wiped away so easily.” Emancipation and Independence are about learning to emotionally reconnect to ourselves and all that comes from us: to the fields, and hills beyond recall, which were for so long not our very own, the history which was hidden from us, and to our future, which we for the first time seek to chart for ourselves.  Emancipation and independence are processes of redeveloping emotional intelligence.

Developing emotional intelligence while carrying on day to day is like drinking soup in a moving car.  Yuh bounds tuh mek some kinda mess.  Rather than risk making a total mess of it, a father or mother may abandon their children. While physically capable of producing offspring, being the product of a culture of emotional abandonment, they may not be emotionally ready for a mature relationship, much less to raise a child. Many have handed over the child to a grandparent, who by 50 or 60 years has acquired more emotional skill. This may be best for the child. Everyone has to know for themselves.

Then, there are those who despite their potential unreadiness, despite the lack of a past that will inspire a hopeful future, will do their best to love, protect and nurture their children. Hopefully, they have managed to maintain an emotional connection to their elders and will have a support system.  The African proverb says: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

It takes the support system of a whole people to raise the arts; to raise them through formative phases and nurture them to maturity.  Art is born of the emotional maturity of a nation. Barbados is an underaged parent, the product of the broken home of slavery and colonisation.  .

We already have more than one abandoned music genre. We turned our backs on spouge, maybe because we saw no hope in it.  How could we if we struggle to find hope in ourselves? We abandoned Bajan dub. It was not pretty enough. How could it be?  It reflects us and we struggle to find the beauty in our natural selves. We are in the process of watching social commentary calypso valiantly fight for survival as we starve it. We feel it cannot feed us. We are accustomed to importing our food.

Bashment soca is home-grown, even if much of the genetic material comes from Jamaican dancehall. It is a child of Barbadian society. It is a product of who we have been and a view of who we are becoming. We can abandon it or embrace it and nurture it to maturity. In it are both the seeds of our blossoming and the DNA of our demise. Which bears fruit, is for us to pick.  There is always hope.

Adrian Green is a creative communications Specialist.
Email: [email protected]

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