The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Monday, July 04, 2011

Barbados: a report


Texas done wit'. Let's look at Barbados.

I have visited Barbados twice: once as a near-toddler and the second time in 2009. When I stayed, I stayed maybe a 45 minute walk from Bridgetown on the south coast. (The first time too, I vaguely remember.)

I do not expect a warm reception should I return a third time. I have this bad habit of finding out stuff I shouldn't. (BFP, on the sequel to that.)

I'd also have to acknowledge the tone of this blog these days, which will upset what acquaintances I made when I was there. Maybe I could excuse this by saying that my late comments have been directed against Texas and Louisiana (and Jamaica and Haiti), with no aspersions toward the Bajan / Gullah gaeltacht. More likely, not.

Moldbug's latest post - with Moldbug, he posts so infrequently, that one is ever tempted to say "last" - directs us again to a trinity of books, of which two are of Carlyle and his disciple Froude. My interest here is in Froude, "The English in the West Indies"; specifically the fourth chapter, 37-47. Wikipedia tells me that there exists a Caribbean response. At least, it is a Trinidadian response; I am not aware of a Bajan one.

Froude clearly wasted his Bajan sojourn in Bridgetown with but a few strolls around the countryside. Most of what he has of the island's history he has from a Frenchman, one Father Labat (39-41). Froude did not venture far; for instance, he seems not even to know of the Scotland District.

I found Bridgetown now to be almost exactly as Froude described it then. As for the isle, its population was then 200 thousands and 90% black; it is now not much more in population, but 80% black. Demographically, the main change seems to have been the displacement of half that 10% remnant of Anglos, and another 10% of blacks; mostly by Asians, Indians out of Guyana and Trinidad.

Another difference is transportation. There are inexpensive communal taxi services - minivans, basically - all over west and south. Northeast, where Scotland is, remains difficult. I ended up having to hoof it down that coast, to Bathsheba; it must have taken two hours.

Perhaps surprisingly for a reactionary-approved author, Froude omits to be racist here. Later, Froude will exempt Bajans from his general view of West Indians as lazy and childlike; at any rate "not more lazy than is perfectly natural when even Europeans must be roused to activity by cocktail [rum-punch]" (49). But he'll forget about this in his conclusion and lump all West Indians together.

Froude did not report the musical tastes of Bajans, so I'll do it: in his day, Bajans enjoyed steel pan music. Nowadays, they just feed that to the tourists. Bajans today like Jamaican music - mostly Bob Marley - interspersed with a few American rappers. I know this because I was at the Wet-Fête and then at one of the locals' clubs, and because I traveled by the minivans.

Bajans are generally still religious and genteel, if they are middle-aged and middle-classed; and still kind to tourists, for the most part. There are now, sadly, crackheads ("paros") who scavenge amongst the tourists. We must also suffer the Third World riffraff selling "nice boy, nice girl" - the latter seem to be Trinidadian immigrants and their, well, slaves. I was warned away from the Scotland District. I, personally, can suggest not venturing into most rumshops unless you are, also, black and even then in a group.

Froude insists that West Indian blacks' notions of morality are still ... elementary; as proof, more than half of their children are born out of marriage. Froude also calls these blacks conscious at the bottom of their nature of their own inferiority [he means mental], and docile and willing to work if any one will direct them and set them to it. (363) Here are the statistics for Barbados today. The Barbados illegitimacy rate is 73%. The mean Bajan IQ is 78. Froude's observations about the Caribbean people, then, still fit at least Barbados, today.

This does not mean that the policies which Froude proposed would have worked for Barbados, even in his own day.


posted by Zimri on 13:44 | link | 0 comments

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