Culture Needs Leadership In Barbados~Bring Back Elombe Mottley To Rescue The National Cultural Foundation

Grand Kadooment
The full force of the energy of the Season is unleashed at Grand Kadooment – the culmination to the Festival. The day is an extended period of gay abandon for costumed revellers that sees from the National Stadium to Spring Garden Highway awash with the colours of Crop Over. The colours represent the creative efforts of our masquerade designers and the band leaders in their various artistic thematic interpretations. The costumed bands are judged in a number of categories and impressive prizes are awarded.


Source: NCF


Source: Nation

Crop Over 2007 is being branded by most people we have met as one of the worse witnessed in recent years. Although the festival avoided much of the controversy which has enveloped in prior years, the tragedy of the Horse Hill accident which resulted in six dead, the questioning of the judges at both Pic and Tune of the Crop competitions, and the final straw where escalating violence ruined the revelry on the road for many of the costume bands made it not a good year to use the parlance associated with wine drinking.


Some might say that the violence which affected some bands, Radikal and Campus Boyz and others reflect the social turbulence of the prevailing times. It stands to reason that this being the case, the promoters of the festival must implement the necessary safe guards to minimize the possibility of the violence to avoid what occurred on the Black Rock road. The unprecedented violence which occurred during Grand Kadooment 2007 prompted a press conference by the Barbados Association of Masqueraders; they have threatened retaliatory action if the issue of security is not addressed for Crop Over 2008.


BU in previous articles have lamented the lack of vision and good management which appear to be absent from Crop Over planning in general. We think we could stretch our opinion to say that strategic planning in the portfolio of culture planning is sorely missing. We are very concerned at the ease which the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) has focused on party and money making activities. We believe it has something to do with the pressure Estwick’s boss has directed at the NCF to produce with an unrealistic budget. Unfortunately the leadership at the NCF seem to lack the backbone to represent their interest forcefully to the Prime Minister, who is the Minister of Culture. The departure from building a festival driven by cultural factors has disappeared with the arrival of Ian Estwick. Elombe Mottley has left a void in leadership at the NCF which has not been filled by Dr. Leacock, Waldron or Estwick. Maybe we can make the eccentric Boo Rudder the exception.


If the stakeholders (civil society) in the festival do not stand-up and demand that agreed standards are to be enforced, then Crop Over as a festival will become marred by another tragedy; this time man made.

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Crop Over 2007: Red Plastic Bag Steals The Pic-Of-The-Crop Crown From “Blood”

14 thoughts on “Culture Needs Leadership In Barbados~Bring Back Elombe Mottley To Rescue The National Cultural Foundation

  1. Underground

    I could not agree with you more.

    After the departure of the visionary Elombe Mottley,the decline of ‘the culture’ in the ‘National Cultural Foundation started.

    Right now we even seem to be getting away from the aspect of ‘National’.

    However this decline plunged to the lowest depth – under the stewardship of Ian Estwick.

    I believe he was given that job by his cousin Mia Mottley – who was then minister of culture (while she sent her friend Allison to CBC) after he left Royal Bank – and it was a case of -‘wrong man for the job’ – or promotion beyond your competence’.

    With the combination of him and Al Gilkes – crop over became a money making venture.

    You don’t get the sense that they understand what culture,and more particularly our culture means.

    they have not enhanced,built upon or even introduce any thing to the cultural chest we had.
    They have departed from all that Elombe set as the foundation of the festival – and that’s why this festival has no sense of cultural attachment for most bajans,nor do they see it as anything more than just a ‘jump and wine’ activity.

    The last rites are being said over this festival – from the decline of real ‘costumed’ band,to the incorporation of reggae on the hill,to dance hall in Cohobblopot,to the elimination of the cart parade,the lack of overwhelming emphasis of local craft at Bridgetown Market (instead of chineese made toys) etc etc.

    Do they still do the ceromonial delivery of the last canes?

    Why couldn’t we still have the burning of Mr Harding? – after all even though sugar is not as impotant an economic factor – these things are still part of our history.

    Why should a couple of misguded persons (innocently so perhaps) be given free rein to destroy what we built upon and was good – something different from all the other islands.

    Elombe boy come back fast and resurrect we cultural festival.

  2. Managed to miss anything resembling violence and had an excellent day, although we were gone before dark and spent most of the time down Spring Garden. Since the newspapers don’t cover anything controversial, can anyone elighten us about the trouble and how it was different to say last year ? We left under the impression that it had gone OK, and no worse than when I jumped 3 years ago. Must have got that seriously wrong then…

  3. Permit me to add my full agreement to what BU and Anonymous cited. Estwick and Gilkes are out of their depth in culture. Neither have any academic background in this important national discipline. Both are journeymen entertainment and small time theatre entrepeneurs.
    If Gilkes had his way I believe he would change the name Crop Over to Carnival despite the uniqueness and marketability of Crop Over which is internationally admired .
    Those two place much effort on de-emphasising the Bajaness of the Festival. The exact opposite to the direction Elton Mottley took. The Festival this year felt souless and thats being a recurring theme under Estwick and Gilkes.
    I support the re- engagement of Motley not Mia or some one with the philosophical vision and academic groundings to take our unique Crop Over Festival to the next level.

  4. David, many thanks, obviously missed this. Your article makes perfect sense. I would agree with Anonymous that this year it felt souless and combined with the violence and lack of effective policing it’s clearly time for change. Back to the Future anyone ?

  5. James et al~the question has been asked before and Barbadians have ignored it. Is Crop Over a carnival to be packaged and promoted as a tourist attraction or should it be managed as an event which is reflective of the culture of Barbados. We think that somewhere along the way we have become confused with what it is we want Crop Over to reflect. The NCF has been told to reorganize its business along two lines 1)commercial and 2)development. To date we have not seen any restructuring at the NCF to suggest a shift in this direction. Going forward we have to examine the remit of culture and do a skills audit of the people at the NCF to determine the resources we need to supplement what is there now. Lord knows we need to improve the people at the NCF because Ian Estwick, Carol Robers and the lot not cutting it.

    Contract Elombe to consult on a comprehensive plan for culture!.

  6. David, Surely one leads to another. Base it on Barbados culture (and not just culture from yesteryear – it does need to reflect current developments) and it will be a tourist pull and a commercial success. If, as obviously happened this year, it started to become too constrained and commercialised, it looses its appeal to locals (people find it difficult to relate to and, as many are doing now, stay home) and visitors (it’s not ‘authentic’ and tourists love authenticity) alike. A comprehensive strategy is required but effective management is just as important as per the posts above. Personally, I enjoyed it this year but there are clearly problems. No idea if Elombe is the man for the job but something needs to change.

  7. What has puzzled me is why after 30 years revelers have to urinate next to the streets. Boozing and no toilets don’t make sense to me. The NCF and the band leaders need to fix this situation. I am sure the vagabonds along the street prey on the females when they have to piss behind people backyards.

  8. Here again we have Ian Estwick telling us in Today’s Nation about the profits the NCF made.

    If we needed any proof that Al Gilkes and Ian Estwick’s main concern is with making profits – then this is it.

    I would have thought that during Ian Estwick’s post kadooment discussion on VOB,Estwick would have adressed his concerns about where the festival is going,areas that they will be looking at during their review,as well as deal with the various concerns raised by the ordinary citizens.

    I really think the time has long gone for them to resign .

    However I fear that if this present minister of culture -owen arthur has to appoint someone it will be anothe square peg in round hole indivual – in other words a party hack.

  9. why did the NCF stop the roberts music truck from kadooment this year? even if there were no sponsors ncf should make sure the music truck remains on the road because it will attract those misfits who get on bad on the road an cause trouble.

  10. It amuses me that most of what is being said is being said out of ignorance with little reference to the facts or the history of Crop-Over.
    Perhaps persons like Nigel Harper, Fielding Babb, Roy Ward could enlighten your ignorance.
    While Crop-Over is becoming less and less associated with the crop you have to define what you understand to be culture. And by the way, do you connect the decline in Barbados” manufacturing e.g. from cane to raw sugar and related products, closure of the cotton factory, the foundries etc. and of course the sugar factories toBarbados’ continuing dependence upon imports for almost everything. Can you really blame the decline in creativity in the costumed bands on the NCF and not on the band designers and participants ?

  11. Who are the persons in Barbados who are qualified, trained and experienced in developing and administering cultural policy ?

  12. Amused~do you think that Barbados is aware of the value which a rich cultural program can bring? Part of the problem maybe is the very same problem which you have highlighted in your statements. We allow politics to flavor too many of our decisions.

  13. Recently, the surviving partner of the late Timmy Callender wrote a brief, but moving piece in Barbados Today about his life and work.
    I was surprised that the National Cultural Foundation does not see it fit to produce a biography of Tim, and equally, to keep his works in print.
    Given the president is a former minister of culture and has threatened (promised?) to return to the cultural field on leaving politics, we can assume it is important to her.
    Will the NCF sponsor a study of Tim’s life and works?

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