EDITORIAL: The King's Highway

For more reasons than one, we find it difficult to understand the criticism coming from the spokesman on Culture and the Creative Economy for the official parliamentary opposition, Mr Allan Springer, concerning the renaming of the former Spring Garden Highway, now the Mighty Grynner Highway.

In a wide-ranging and generally unfavourable assessment of this year’s Crop Over Festival activities, Mr Springer is quoted as saying inter alia, that Government should not have renamed the highway after the inveterate road march winner, but should have instead found a different form of recognition rather than taking away what he chose to term as “the brand known as the Spring Garden Highway”.

We must confess our ignorance hitherto of the existence of the Spring Garden Highway as a brand, although we are aware that its name had become immortalized in calypsos such as Ras Iley’s “Spring Garden on Fire” and others.

And while we are forced to admit that the new name does not lend itself as easily as did the old one to lyrical composition, that could scarcely have been a consideration in the renaming that seems to be a logical progression from the mastery of the honoured calypsonian over the years in this art form.

Indeed, the relatively recent renamings of our schools and the namings of our many roundabouts do not appear to follow similar logic, being seemingly most favourable to former educators, parliamentarians or political figures. Thus the St James Secondary has become the Fredrick Smith Secondary, the former St Lucy Secondary is now the Daryll Jordan Secondary, and the Bussa Roundabout is not officially that.

It is of passing interest that Mr Springer did not address the appropriateness of the recent naming of the adjacent Rihanna Close, although we suppose that it could be argued that there was no “brand” formerly attached thereto.

We do not believe, as some others have argued, that Mr Springer was being critical of the calypsonian himself as undeserving; indeed, he did expressly suggest that there might have been some other form of recognition, but we do not consider that there is any special magic in the name of a highway that was premised merely on its location.

In any event, given the local tradition, the entire debate may prove in future to be much ado about nothing. After all, President Kennedy Drive still remains the Harbour Road for many from that area; the East Coast Road is seemingly preferred to the Ermine Bourne Highway; the Ronald Mapp Highway, to the consternation of a few, is still today popularly referred to by its alphanumeric beginnings as Highway 2A, and the ABC Highway is treated more as an entirety than by reference to its constituent sections.

It is the passage of time alone that shall determine whether the name Mighty Grynner Highway will gain popular currency or whether its former appellation will maintain precedence.

Nevertheless, we may still applaud the official effort to honour one who, for a while during the 1980’s, was the undisputed “King of the Road”.

Barbados Advocate

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