Keeping traditions alive


OVER the weekend I overheard one gentleman explaining to a young man about the logistics of the grease pole event at Oistins.
How is it that a Barbadian close to 40 years old has never heard of this signature event, which for many people is the highlight of the Oistins Fish Festival? This instantly made me think of the question of culture, which apparently is only contemplated by many during Crop Over season, where our true Bajan culture takes centre stage, and with perennial calls for its preservation.
Sadly, there are other aspects of our culture that appears to be just disappearing from our thoughts and lips, to the detriment of our future generations and what makes us uniquely Bajan.
Recently I heard another person saying with the greatest disdain they aren’t going up Oistins to watch a fish boning competition. Any person that has taken up a knife to de-bone a flying fish, would appreciate that what is done at these competitions with such speed and precision is nothing short of a superpower and they should be celebrated and rewarded for this work of art.
It is comments like these that make us realise that for many culture is just a word, but they have absolutely no connection to our customs or traditions. The question is though – Who should be blamed?
Our children associate Easter with a fancy bonnet, chocolate eggs and a fluffy white rabbit, which have all become highly commercialised, like most seasons. What lessons are we teaching them to ensure that other cultures don’t fully infiltrate our own? Who teaches their children to make kites? Why 
are older Barbadians adamant that you should not go to the beach on Good Friday?
Why is Easter so important to Christians? It might seem like a simple question, but arguably there are many persons who struggle to give a correct answer.
What are we passing down to children? Are we going to wait for the schools to teach our children about Easter? There were a number of village customs, granted that the village setting hardly exists anymore with everyone seemingly leaving the things we once celebrated behind in the name of development and social advancement. Who knows how to make hot cross buns anymore or would we rather just wait for the mass-produced versions which we know pale in comparison, but we’re too lazy to do them, and by extension, too lazy to teach our children? 
The same goes for our cakes that we see people literally fighting for over the holidays because we can’t take the time to do it ourselves.
If memory serves correctly, there have been kite-making workshops and that must be commended, not just for persons to mass-produce, which is just as important for a budding business person, but to show how persons used the most basic of materials to make a kite, even begging for an old sheet to make a tail. At the end of the day, there was a sense of pride that was immeasurable when we finally “upped” a kite that was made from scratch.
Certainly the agencies with responsibility for culture or community development would do well to introduce more of these types of workshops – be it in local art and craft, confectionery, clothing or most importantly, local cuisine – with the fear that soon these things might be a distant memory.

Barbados Advocate

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