Saturday Night Fish Fry

By Baba Elombe Mottley

AYou don=t have to pay the usual admission

If you are a cook or a waiter or a good musician

So if you happen to be just  passing by

Stop in at the Saturday Night Fish Fry.@

– Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five

Martin=s Bay like a loop.  A loop that curls like a noose to knot a shallow beach between a black scarred reef and a black macadam road.  Potted once upon a time  in the sands were singularly lean coconut trees to shelter this fragile loop of beach in a speckled shade. That was a time when fishing boats had sails.  A distant loop from a distant past where the sea salt blinded ambition.

And Martin=s Bay people always lingered in my mind as having a sense of  privacy that was uniquely their own.  There wasn=t much land but what there was was planted with bay houses and homes held precariously together by rust and paint.

Martin=s Bay is an outpost.  As far from the tourist industry as imagination can make.  Not interesting enough to force the tourist buses down the loop.  Not even to see the remnants of a  long gone train or to hear the strains of the mythical and mystical Brumley band hiding in the wind.

Martin=s Bay today is sedate and settled but how I would like to see a Martin=s Bay Saturday Night Fish Fry on the slender beach, replete with Sam Lord=s lanterns and Julian Hunte bonfires, roast breadfruit, fried plantain, potato pickings (the extra sweet potatoes) and other delights.

In a two by four island like ours everything counts.  There should be no wasteland.  Tourism has developed as an industry far removed from the rest of us.  It was precious to a few, hoteliers by and large, who saw their properties as oases in a dessert of primitive yahoos.  And who used to get every concession, tax free holidays as if they did tourist themselves, tourist from taxes.  And to some others  the historical sojourn in plantation houses with silver forks was touted as the places to see.

As far as planners and developers expect, we are to be the hewers of wood and carry water buckets on our heads forever.  And regardless of how sophisticated everything appears in Barbados, there are now some sophisticated hewers of wood and some sophisticated water bucket carriers.

What I am driving at here is the absence of real benefits to black Bajans.  Somehow I get the impression that we are still getting the pickings from the fields of tourism.  The pickings from a field of sweet potatoes, those premature finger-sized potatoes that were usually good for feeding hogs.  When roasted and served with raw salt fish and washed down by a frothy-head  mauby, served as food for many of our parents.

And much of it seems to be our fault, it is said.

We have a billion dollar tourism industry and seem to feel that it should operate on automatic pilot.  For the Concorde class of course – there are real estate permits and pathways to heaven.  For us we must dress-up in our Sunday go-to-meetings and stand-up outside like our parents used to do outside the Marine Hotel pun old year=s night.

Exactly what is it we must do to get noticed, to get fair treatment?  Get it straight, I talking bout those who get scratch grain scatter in their path like if dem is starve out bare-neck fowls…

We don=t have to bend down.

Tourism is valid and all Bajans who want to be in it must be in it.  Some can=t don=t know what is the product and some do.  Some can=t suck the sweet and rest suck salt.  It cyan be that.  It ent to say that some of we ent there.  Some of we there. And that is why the rest of we want to get in too.  Some cyan have and the rest ent to have.

Every body got beach and sand and de sun if the devil and he wife don=t fight fuh de coocoo stick too often and too long. But Buhbadus is we, all of we and all of wunna.  Everything that get pack up and send down the line to we from we father and mother father and mother is what is Bajan.  So it just cyan be for some of we and not the rest.

Martin=s Bay got people that does fish for a living.  Them know every fishing ground from Martin=s Bay to the Cow and the Calf and the Horse Nostril right thru to the Bowbells.  So why them can=t get piece of the action offering sea tours?  Is only imported bus that is to get used?

Culture is what people do in a particular environment.  It different.  So what wrong with Martin=s Bay people?  Them ent to live and enjoy the sweets too?

So Martin=s Bay, don=t wait.  Light up the coalpots and the smut lamps and fry some fish pun a sarduh night. Yuh don=t have to pay the usual admission.  Forget the scratch grain.

Ah gone!

0 thoughts on “Saturday Night Fish Fry


  1. “Martin=s Bay got people that does fish for a living. Them know every fishing ground from Martin=s Bay to the Cow and the Calf and the Horse Nostril right thru to the Bowbells. So why them can=t get piece of the action offering sea tours? Is only imported bus that is to get used?”

    these villagers may see the tourist buses and without ever trying, know that the bank would not give them a loan the same way the banks would hand over $300,000 to a white man, living here for just 3 years – the bajan would get snickered at all the way back to his home. no elombe, loans are there for the white skin not the black man that’s honest and would repay.


    • @Smooth Chocolate

      Barbados is 90+% Black no?

      If this is so who is responsible for borrowing all the money from the credit unions and banks, Whites?


  2. BU understands this piece was written in 1998 by Elombe, how prophetic.

    Who gave permission to build the structure on the beach side in Martins Bay? Was it Town Planning?

    On a related matter, it is good to see the citizenry of St. Philip mobilized to clean and in the future restore Ragged Point Lighthouse. A positive shaking out from the Skeete’s Bay/Whitehaven matter? It is no secret BU is against the project. Let us leave some parts of Barbados beautiful and unspoiled.


  3. @/David. did i mentioned the Credit Union? who is responsible for borrowing all the money from the banks? the 10% whites who are able to borrow in the 6/7 figures to build the hotels set up grand businesses.. not the 90% blacks who usually can get a loan to buy a vehicle or house (where40% interest goes to the bank), travel… something infinitesimal


  4. one awareness is by seeing who are the ones that own the big business in Barbados that should be sufficient to tell who gets the 6 & 7 figures loans from the banks


  5. unless we have a government who believe that CITIZENS “are the rightful owners of their country then the people would always be put on the back burner while foreigners take it all.I believe the person who had such a vision and foresight was the RIGHT HONURABLE ERROL BARROW! he was a man who had vision for the people of inclusion . after that most of the other governments have conveniently sold the country out to the highest bidder in the name of Progress .


    • @ac

      How is qualification for a 6 figure mortgage equal to being able to qualify for business loans?


  6. March like it is our month ac 🙂
    ….Not only sell out to rich foreigners ac, but O$A actually articulated and pursued a policy of seeking out rich people from overseas to come here to reap Bajan sweets. They were offered tax and other incentives which EXCEEDS those available to ‘born and bred’ Bajans……..It was our approach to achieving first world status….. While the numbers on the blocks were steadily growing…

    Admitedly this current lot don’t appear to have any vision either, so one wonders on what basis optimists such as David (BU) pin their hopes….

    ‘Wuh even the same Elombe has had more opportunities than most to actualize the lotta long talk that he has always expounded…. Where are the results? Where have these opportunities and ideas got us…or him?

    When wanna going to realize that wanna missing a critical factor in the whole game? (…with your permission-JUST ASKING)

    @ ac
    Talking about “REAL EXISTENCE”
    …In the global scheme of things, we are arguing and worrying about the dress code during final term at the college when what is at stake is the loss of the massive inheritance waiting us, after graduation day….


  7. What good is a 6 Figure mortgage if one can.t afford to pay for it. what i arguing here is for the face of black barbados to acquire as much clout when they are seeking loans for business the underlying factors which gives blacks acess to getting a mortage is pure and adultered economics because who else to buy the houses afterall some body got to pay the bills while on the other hand when the bajan seeks a loan to start a business the rules and objectives from the lending industry is different


    • @ac

      If you own a mortgage you should know one only has to earn a certain level of salary – you can even add 50% of the spouse – to qualify for a decent mortgage in Barbados. It has absolutely nothing to do with qualifying for a business loan.


  8. Bush tea you are absolutely correct look at DAVID (BU) comment he seems to be not aware of the missing which is “POWER” and without “MONEY one is powerless lending a person money to buy a house does not give the buyer any power not only that he does only limited control. but on the other hand if that same money could be invested in a business by the buyerthen control and POWER takes effect.But the powers that “BE” would not like that so they throw us abone every now and then and we say all is forgiven .


    • @ac

      BT would be the first to tell you commercial banks in Barbados are no different to anywhere else.

      They are in business to make money for shareholders and should not be confused with development banks.


  9. Yes DAVID but we are talking about control an d our own controlling a large amount of the pie and not allowing governments to give it to those who would only share that part of the pie that would be only in there sole interest. just imagine a barbados who te real stake holders are citizens and the freigners have to knock on our doorsteps for acess. the point which i driving home is that we deserve better uinderstanding the nature of business is notthe problem but those who are controlling and takingover

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