Two weeks ago my little cousin came to Barbados to get married. With him he brought his mom and his brother’s, (who would be my older cousin’s) daughter Lilly. My two cousins and I grew up in Trinidad as brothers. Our moms were sisters and we were brothers. So, naturally my cousin’s children feel more like nieces to me than second cousins. Anyway, I would meet my second cousin/niece for the first time on this occasion. Her mother is Swedish (did not come). Lilly was anxious to know more about her Caribbean roots, in particular her African roots. We talked at great length and we eventually got to the topic of Bussa and his contribution to our emancipation. Her eyes shone bright as I told her the story of general Bussa, she was fascinated. It was then I made the mistake, I told her we had a stature of Bussa. To add insult to injury I told her it was within walking distance from where we were. We were at the headquarters of the African Heritage Foundation that is located on Two Mile Hill, a 7.5 minute walk to the Emancipation statue. Can we go now was the next thing leaving her mouth before I could even finish explaining how far we would have to walk.
Bussa rebellion 1816.
We took the walk up Two Mile Hill, and as we walked I pointed out various things around us. From plants to potholes, I showed her it all. As we approached the round about a brethren of mine who was selling dunks at the roundabout saw me and came to get a sale. I was pleased he did as this gave Lilly the opportunity to taste that fruit for the first time. So, we are at the roundabout and Lilly is taking pictures right, left and center. Then she turns to me and asks, “is there something written on the statue uncle”. I replied yes there is. Next question was “how do we get there”, meaning across the road. My brethren who is still there, is now laughing, and says you have to wait for a break and make a run for it. At first she smiled thinking he was pulling her leg (making a joke), but soon realized he was dead serious. Now Lilly as thrilled as she was to hear the story of Bussa and see the monument, was not quite sure if crossing this busy highway at a roundabout was worth reading what was on the statue. She is now not smiling and looks at me once again as if seeking reassurance and asks, “is it safe”? No, was my answer, but it is the only way you can read what is written on it. I said, pointing at the statue, he gave his life for you, but you are afraid to cross this road for him, as it is risking yours. Contemplating my words for a minute, she decided she would go across. My brethren was now trying to reassure her by saying he works out here and has to cross that road numerous times a day to get water to wash his dunks and the other fruits he sells. I prayed, looked right, left, up, down and every which way and then made our way speedily across. She read, took pictures and then we went through the same drama to cross back. I told her when she gets home and shows her mom and friends the pictures of Bussa, tell them how you literally had to risk your life for these pictures. I also told her remember who took her on that life threatening mission to see this great man lol.
I said all that to say, I think at the very least the Ministry of Culture who sits right next to the roundabout can do, is get a crosswalk/zebra crossing with lights to the monument. What good is it there with no access to it, outside of a life risking adventure? Think about it. All other monuments are very accessible. They put Sir Garfield Sobers in a roundabout and very quickly he was moved to a better place. Not saying he was moved because he was in a bad position. I am just saying it was a good move. Now you can take pictures next to that great man. What has Bussa done to us that are not encouraged to get closer to him?
The African Heritage Foundation will send a letter of recommendation to whatever ministry has the ability to make Bussa accessible, to do so asap. Either move him or get paint and crossing lights and pave the way to Bussa (not literally pave). I am not even going into the fact that on the other hand, Nelson is totally accessible in a place deemed unfit for him by a lot of Barbadians and visitors to the island. Could you imagine a statue of Hitler in downtown Israel? I think not. I don’t think they would be having that at all. If it we up to me I would switch them. Let people risk their lives to read about the greatness of Nelson. But we all know the political parties who have represented us forever in this two party dictatorship, have not the intestinal fortitude to touch Nelson. See how quick they moved the paint when he was defaced a couple months ago? The three busts of the 3W’s are but two. One head has been missing for long, long, long. No hurry, take your time, we see you.
3 W’s before heads rolled.
I do hope this short article makes you go hmmmmmm and want to help rectify this situation. I know we have more important issues facing this nation and reading what is written on the emancipation statue is not one of them. But for those of us who not only understand, but value the contribution of the Bussa rebellion and what it means to our present freedoms, cannot keep still when our general continues to be disrespected and disregarded. As I told Lilly he fought for us, will we not fight for him?
Maybe I am talking foolishness, maybe I am not. If you think I am not give me some feedback and let’s get some access to the General happening.
Walk Good Sisters and Brothers