MY STORY: Winnie is Bajan to de bone
As part of the Nation Publishing Company’s 50th anniversary of Independence celebrations, the WEEKEND NATION team – through this series – This Is My Story – will be speaking to people who migrated to the island and visitors who have come and fallen in love with our shores. We invite you to share with us or point us in the direction of an interesting person we can feature each week.
WINNIE GRIFFITH MIGHT NOT HAVE been born in Barbados, but she considers herself as much a Barbadian as anyone else.
So much so, she refers to herself as “the best cou cou maker on the island”.
Griffith, or Winnie as she is well known because of her outspokenness on the various radio call-in programmes, has been living here for the past 23 years.
Having been born in Spanish Town, the capital and the largest town in the parish of St Catherine, Jamaica, Winnie migrated to Barbados in 1993 after previously spending close to a decade living in England with her Barbadian husband Gordon.
Sitting in the living room of her home at #95 Bagatelle Terrace, St James, the mother of four and grandmother of four told the WEEKEND NATION that while she had visited the island prior to relocating here permanently, it was her husband’s love for Barbados that brought her back here.
“He didn’t want to go anywhere else. Although we had lived in England for ten years, he always wanted to move back to Barbados. He didn’t want to go anywhere else,” she said.
And so her love affair with Barbados began. It didn’t take long before Winnie became engrossed in the island’s culture.
Winnie Griffith sees herself as the voice for many Barbadians on the radio call-in programmes.
She became a staple at political meetings and on the airwaves, all the while taking the time to sample everything this beautiful 166-square mile island has to offer.
According to her, there’s no other place she or her husband would rather be.
“I love Barbados. My husband doesn’t even want to go the other islands for a trip. He is a pure and bred Barbadian,” she playfully reveals.
“I am really blessed to be living here. I have a wonderful husband who has spoiled me and Barbados is a beautiful place to live.”
Although Jamaica’s national dish is ackee and saltfish, Winnie has assured that she is just as competent in the kitchen in preparing Barbadian meals.
So confident is she that she has issued a challenge to anyone who believes they are better than her at cooking Barbados national dish.
“I am the best cou cou maker in Barbados . . . . I could win any competition. I eat a lot of Bajan food now, but I am especially good at making cou cou. Nobody can beat me at making cou cou,” Winnie adamantly maintained.
“I also like rum and I like going to the sea. I just like Barbados and I’m really happy.”
During her time here, Winnie has engrossed herself in the country’s politics.
Winnie Griffith, seen here pointing to a picture of one of her four grandchildren, thoroughly enjoys living in Barbados.
The one-time ardent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) supporter who is now a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) activist has become practically a household name due to her fiery and sometimes controversial comments on call-in programmes.
Even though in recent times ill health has forced her to take a break, Winnie has promised that once she has recovered sufficiently her voice will be back on the airwaves.
“I like calling the programmes, but I have to take off my answering machine because people call me from morning until night asking me to speak for them.
“When I do that, I don’t mind getting cursed, but they always say, ‘Why don’t you go back to Jamaica?’ But I’m not living in Jamaica, I’m living in Barbados!” she emphatically stated.
While Winnie admitted she was comfortable living in Barbados, she said the upsurge in recent violent crimes was causing her some worry.
She said she didn’t want the crime rate to reach as high as it has in her homeland “I worry that if they don’t control the amount of drugs and guns which are coming into the country, things are going to get like my country,” she lamented.
“Barbados is nice and I would like to see for the 50th anniversary that they hold a few people with these guns.” (RB)