GET REAL: November remember
BARBADOS SEASON HAS passed and the Christmas season is in full swing. The elves are singing “Hurray Jin-Jin.” The Christmas decorations are set free once again. Normally, their lick and lock up is be done-wid far earlier. The Germanic Yuletide ritual usually starts warming up much earlier, but it had to be bumped back to make space for the big 50. The merchants mussee happy enough that they can get on with the business of business after the extended commercial break for national pride.
Now that the hullabaloo over the event that took place 50 years ago is over, we start celebrating an event that is supposed to have occurred 2000 years ago. Or should we say celebrate around an event? It is up for debate whether the masses are really focused on the birth of Christ or if He is just the excuse to play mas. In either case, companies like Massy gun get out licking as you are now returned to your regularly scheduled programming.
Programming is right. Listening to the radio, it is hard to avoid being placed under the spell of the ghost of Christmas present. Some like me, avoid the wall-to-wall Christmas music like Worthing Beach. The music is meant to open you up to being possessed by the spirit of the season, to hypnotise you, and put you in the mood to shop. I know it makes you feel good and jolly. But that is only because happy, festive people are more likely to buy gifts. Economics – it’s the reason for the season.
Really, it has become the reason for everything. Sales of independence memorabilia were apparently very good for the 50th celebrations. People apparently did not care about being flagged for incorrect display of the flag. It may be a good thing, too. Stimulating some kind of economic activity is really the only way anything can survive in these times. We will see if profits from the high-profile Independence celebrations this year were good enough to induce business people to put half the effort they put into promoting Christmas into promoting Independence next year.
A recent survey by GlobeScan found that citizens of developing nations are increasingly identifying themselves as global citizens rather than identifying with their national origin. This means that the national pride market is shrinking. In a capitalist society, if you don’t have a market you don’t have a chance.
It is easier to gain political independence than it is to gain economic independence. The trend towards imaginary global citizenship may be due to poor marketing of national pride, which will probably lead the country further into the deep end of globalisation and economic dependency. However, if independence were to really get the vote of the business class it would be gone clear. If the business class were to decide to market Barbados to Barbadians as heavily as they do Christmas, Barrow would be more popular than Santa.
Some among the business class descended as it is demographically and/or ideologically from the plantation, seem to see themselves as separate and apart from the rest of the population. This is a shame because it is the business class that is heading to the front lines of the emancipation struggle. Bussa fought with a machete and a musket. The revolutionary businessman seeks freedom for himself and his people with a business plan and his wits.
Since we escaped the tyranny of King Sugar, other monarchs have been vying for the right to rule. Of course, the heir apparent is perpetually Prince Tourism. However, Prince Retail is always lurking in the shadows. Whoever comes out on top can be guaranteed the support of Barbadians. Barbadians seem to love princes. The way they were cheering for Harry of Wales at the unveiling of the National Monument, you would have thought the year was 1816 rather than 2016. Whether the prince is retail, tourism, Henry or Harry, one thing is for sure: a large percentage of Bajans remain subjects.
In the local game of thrones, things are hottest when winter is coming. The blustery, winter-tourist-season, and the dreams of a white Christmas, come together to form a perfect storm of commercial activity. What was once a slave society based on the sugar industry is now a consumerist society based on the branding and bonding of the people with commercial brands.
The emotional attachment some people have to brands is amazing considering that a brand is a simple symbol that has no meaning except the meaning we give to it. That is, of course, unless the symbol has some kind of metaphysical, demonic power invested in it. This was the concern of some Christians over the trident on the national flag. They were concerned that it was representative of the devil or the pagan god Neptune or something. If they are consistent, we will hear similar outcries very soon concerning the pagan rituals of candy canes, hanging holly, erecting pine trees indoors and giving gifts around December 25. The protest against dark forces may not stop there. Going forward into the new year, there might be a push to discontinue the observance of January, named after the Roman god Janus, and have Saturday, which is named after the Roman god Saturn, removed from the days of the week.
I am particularly concerned about symbols. It would be nice, though, to get that symbol of British slavery removed from Heroes Square. It would be good to see Horatio Nelson take the broken trident for a long dive to the bottom of the ocean to meet Neptune. His continued prominence is an indication that we have not broken away fully. Did someone mention Stockholm syndrome?
Adrian Green is a creative communications specialist. Email: [email protected]