Once again I would like to frame this article in the manner of a story. To do this I will take the European classical story of Cinderalla, and tweak it into what I call “Mau Mau at the King’s Ball”.
Clouds filled the grey skies and drizzles of rain blessed the earth one fine Tuesday morning. “Simba” the President of a pan-African organization the “African Heritage Foundation (AHF)” had just arrived at their headquarters when he saw something stuck in the door. It was an invitation from the Governor-General of Barbados to attend a reception for the president of Kenya and his wife. Although he was grateful for the invitation he would have to consult his inner conscience for permission and strength to transform himself into the social being that would be required for that activity. Reading from his holy book (Philosophies and Opinions of Marcus Garvey) he would induce a self-comatosed state that would allow him to endure two hours of hob- knobbing with those he opposed in his quest to help effect positive social change, constructed on African-centered philosophies, culture and heritage in Barbados. The next day at 7pm as promised, he transformed into a semi-social character that could turn his disgust into a smile as his oppressors circled the room.
It was a colonial affair flavoured with a dash of Tuk and Steel. This is the only way the AHF President could accurately describe his impression of the official reception for the president of Kenya and his wife hosted by the Governor –General of Barbados. Kenya for him was a land he wished to visit. Kenya, it was the home of Jomo Kenyatta and the legendary Mau Mau. The AHF President himself as a Rastafari warrior was inspired by the Kenyan Mau Mau and their dread appearance and took that onto himself as he too appears dread in his resistance of post/neo-colonialisim.
The affair for His Excellency Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, and his wife Margaret Gakuo Kenyatta First Lady of Kenya got underway with the national anthems of Kenya and Barbados, with other music played by what was described to him as a symphony by another attendee. Not being very versed in British classical music Simba was totally ignorant to what the symphony was playing. He noted that the members of this symphony were all dressed in black and asked himself why all the politicians were also dressed in Black. Africa is a vibrant colouful place he thought, full of life and rhythms of life. Why then would a reception be planned for an African head of state that was drab and British? Not an African drum in sight.
Being fully aware that the colour black is adorned for formal occasions (in the West), such as the one he was attending now, it still was a very morbid energy that permeated the atmosphere, he thought to himself. Save not for the dashes of colour and African attire from the 15 (lol) pan-Africanist in attendance and a few women, it was reminiscent of a funeral. When the symphony finally grounded to a halt, it was time for the dash of Tuk. Three men weaved themselves between those gathered playing their Tuk Band rhythm. Again, apart from the few colourful people in attendance, it would seem more people paid attention to the symphony than to the little Tuk Band hired for the evening.
The musical ambiance of the evening continued with a Steel Band choir, or as the Trini’s say, “a Pan Side”. As the “Side” got ready to start, Simba inched his way to the front in anticipation of some exciting Steel Pan music. He would soon beat a hasty retreat as the first selection from this Steel Pan group was, “Jesus Loves Me This I Know”. This was followed by the soca tune, “Hold Something, Anything”. Which in turn was followed by a melody of music from the reggae artist Chronix. “Emmerton” the classic from the Mighty Gabby closed their set.
Time was crawling and the mingling continued with President Kenyatta and his entourage making their way through the gathering, flocked by the media at every turn. Simba’s water on the rocks was getting low and so was his endurance levels. His time was running out. In an unguarded moment he was taken by surprise by a greeting gesture from an individual behind him. He turned with hands outstretched to shake, only to see it was the Attorney General of Barbados. This is one of the men/people that keep him and his Rastafari brothers and sisters imprisoned and relegated to the status of criminal in this country. His actions or rather non actions on the matter of sacramental cannabis use and private adult use keep Simba and people like him a criminal and a constant fugitive of the law. He felt like he wanted to wash his hands with bleach after the hand shake. He could only hope now that the Attorney General saw the disgust in his face when he saw whose hand he had outstretched his own to. Oh …. If only looks could kill Simba thought.
Just as he was about to throw the towel in, the Hon. Governor General called for attention as she formally proceeded to greet President Kenyatta and his wife and members of their delegation. In her greeting’s the Governess stated that the relationship between Barbados and Kenya started in 2014 and the rest was the cliché rhetoric of looking forward to working together and all that good stuff. However it did not feel like this was something special. In his estimation the relationship of Barbados and Kenya or any African state should be one of a kidnapped child being reunited with its parents. What Simba felt from the Queen’s representative was a feeling of a meeting between strangers and not family.
When it was time for President Kenyatta to reply, he did so by first correcting his hostess by saying the relationship between our countries started over 100 years ago within a pan-African framework. This remark by President Kenyatta was received with applause from the pan-Africanist and a few informed persons. Simba did not stay to hear the rest of what the President would have to say, as his time was just about up and he had to leave before transformation caught him in that setting. It was now 8.45pm and the event was slated to end at 9.00pm, he had endured and now tells the story.
Are visits to Barbados by African heads of state a time for Barbados to show how British it is? It would seem that way.