The Price of Progress

Submitted by Heather Cole

Submitted by Heather Cole

When I was knee high I remember going to Father Knight’s shop in Maxwell to buy groceries with my cousins. It was a time when my Grandmother wrote her list with a lead pencil on a brown piece of paper and we carried our groceries in a box. I still have a memory of Father Knight looking down at me from behind the counter and I peering up at him smiling, I could see the top of the bright red scale that rested on the counter. The shop smelled like salt meat, red herring, salt fish, potatoes, cheese and fresh salt breads all rolled up in one.

He knew everyone by name. He talked a lot and asked a million questions. He was the source of information even though he did not get out much because he was literally tied to the shop.

As I grew a little older, we traded in Father Knight’s shop for Hills Supermarket in Oistins. The only thing that I liked going there for was the ice cream. There was no friendly shopkeeper who knew me by name or had a conversation with me that made me smile and gone were the familiar smells of Father Knight’s shop. The supermarket was not personalized and even back then I recognized that it came with a price.

It has taken a lifetime for me to process what happened way back then. It was never progress but we may have thought that it was because everything was now brightly packaged. I did not understand back then that that change symbolized the breaking away from the traditions of our past which we held so dear. The village shop, the prominent fixture in every village, the fabric that held the communities in Barbados together had started its demise. Today we are still reeling from the effect of what happened so long ago, when our black entrepreneurial class was significantly destroyed because Barbadians stopped patronizing them. What makes this situation even worse is that Barbadians no longer own the supermarkets that the village shops were traded in for. Besides its social ramifications, mass retailing with all of its packaging started the garbage problems that we have today.

Mrs. Burrows was the shopkeeper in Cane Vale; she must have been the first person in the village to buy a TV. It was a black and white TV and like bees attracted to honey the children would gather at her window late in the evening and watch whatever was showing on TV. I remember watching Dark Shadows and afterwards feeling scared to go home. However, it was when my uncle bought a TV that I began to notice that my life was changing. Watching TV became my past time, when my home work was finished I was glued to that box. It became an obsession. I wanted to watch all the shows. We no longer had to create our own entertainment, someone else provided it for us. That box that we welcomed with joy really changed us. We enjoyed because it was new and everyone else was doing the same thing, watching TV. It did not build creativity, all we did was sit an absorb like sponges a set of make believe that started to change to our customs, our norms , our values, the way we dressed and behaved. “Dark Shadows” truly brought a dark shadow into my life. We no longer played the childhood games like we did at night. We did not sing folk songs as much. We no longer went for walks when the moon was full and the whole world looked as though it was dressed in silver. I do not think we truly understood what we were doing. The art of good conversation that I heard as I sat and listen too was disappearing from the landscape, all the talk was about what was happening on that foreign TV. That box had begun to transform the simplicity of our lives.

So, we put away our own drums and started to dance to the beat of another drum because we thought it was progress. Progress stopped our children from playing the games I played as a child; from singing our folk songs as they gathered at night; now they have to learn them at school. I wonder how many of them know of the old Bajan proverbs, or hear stories at bedtime that were passed down from one generation to the next.

All is not lost because Lynette Eastmond is working diligently to create a film Industry in Barbados and I am hoping that her efforts will be fruitful to create in Barbados a Barbywood of the Caribbean as we have so many stories that can be put into film before they are lost to living memory.

This brings me to the standpipe, a remnant of a bygone era. I do not recall any standpipes in Cane Vale but there was one in the Crane where we washed the sand off our feet or sometimes rinsed away the salt water from our bodies after bathing in the sea at Foul Bay. Decades ago, the standpipe was a permanent fixture on the Barbadian landscape. Many Barbadians armed with buckets and skillets travelled to this source of running water. They were truly the watering holes. Women gossiped as they washed their clothes, children played and even the occasional fight broke out. The demise of the standpipe came with the advent of running water into Barbadian homes. What then seemed like a privilege then is now a basic necessity for cleanliness a well as good health and sanitation. To me this was the greatest act of progress in modern Barbados, even surpassing Independence. I believe that the demise of the standpipe impacted the congregation of people but they were far more meaningful benefits that were to be obtained from having running water in their homes.

Surely the Government of Barbados has its priorities in the wrong order. It made a choice to spend 63 Million of the tax payer’s money to build a new complex for the Barbados Water Authority and is spending another $300,000 to start off Independence celebrations when it already had information that the burst mains were affecting the water supply. To add insult to injury the Government went ahead to compulsorily acquire land to build a Waste to Energy Plant in the same area to further deplete the water supply of the people in the North. It is an embarrassment that Government values buildings and celebrations more than Barbadians having access to a water supply.

After 50 years of Independence, reverting to the use of portable standpipes rescinds any gains in the past fifty years. It seems that we are right back where we started. How can Government wish to remove the last bastion of colonialism and become a republic when it has sentenced it people to live as they did in the colonial days? I now wonder if we have lost more than we have gained, if we are using the correct measurement of progress. Have we finally lost our minds in pursuit of brand name clothes, constant fetes, carnivals on every bank-holiday, grandeur and legacies; on things that give gratification that last no longer than a snow cone, that we ignore the basic needs of man?

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101 Comments on “The Price of Progress”

  1. Donna January 7, 2016 at 11:20 AM #

    Tsk, tsk!


  2. Donna January 7, 2016 at 11:25 AM #

    Get on which train, the train to hell? The naked truth is that the dirty nature of politics is perpetuated by the likes of Tsk. Nothing but a wharf rat. Unfortunately the alternative party is just as nasty.


  3. Hal Austin January 7, 2016 at 11:37 AM #

    Tom,srecall was about the social division between Combermere and Harrison College, as repr esented by the cnal between the two schools – now College and the Transport Board.

    @ Codrington.
    If we want a road map to the future, we must know where we came from, where we are and where we want to get to. It is not just looking back.


  4. Gabriel January 7, 2016 at 1:41 PM #

    You remind me of Branford Taitt,fooling the Johnnys-cum-lately that he was known as Goldie.The guy was called Goalie Taitt because he kept goal for Combermere school.
    The canal you refer to passes along the perimeter of Combermere,Harrison Colege,Queens Park and Queens College.A wooden gate separated Cmere from Kolij and boys including David Noott stepped through the wire fence at the side of the wooden gate.Tom went to both schools and I think he taught at Cmere.


  5. Willie's January 7, 2016 at 1:49 PM #

    Happy New Year Dr. Agard!! We are looking forward to seeing you on the Government benches of Parliament soon.


  6. Bush Tea January 7, 2016 at 6:57 PM #

    @ Gabriel
    Miss Mia has put on a tremendous amount of weight.Saw her on TV tonight.
    It worked…..
    Being a fat a$$ woman is a sure way to get on CBC.
    Wrap a couple king-size sheets around her head …and she may actually get an opportunity to give the public an update on the Cahill scam…..perhaps even CLICO….


  7. Well Well & Consequences2 January 7, 2016 at 7:53 PM #

    Prehaps even enlightening the taxpayers on how Del Mastros got into the island, who is responsible, who gave permission. Those dudes had their court problems since 2012, it was no secret. Local politicians love to entwine themselves with foreign criminals.


  8. Gabriel January 7, 2016 at 8:35 PM #

    The fat arse and bigboobs brigade of CBCTV…..Rosemary,Lisa L,Lisa B,Selma,Michelle,Kerri-Anne,Cassandra.Wuhloss,muh belly.All o dem fuh cup…uh wanna bawl..


  9. Colonel Buggy January 7, 2016 at 10:45 PM #

    Gabriel January 7, 2016 at 8:35 PM #
    Is that why you got yourself a 60 inch TV for Christmas?


  10. Colonel Buggy January 7, 2016 at 10:59 PM #

    Actually EWB made the recall of MP Vehicles on the morning that he won the general election in 1986. He asked for all MP’s cars to be deposited either on the Garrison pasture or the nearest police station. Just after he died , I recall seeing a high profile hangar-on, stopped on Rockley beach side driving an MP top of the line BMW,strolled into Cheffette, and came back across the road licking an icecream. The life of luxury. And so it continues.


  11. Hal Austin January 8, 2016 at 4:19 AM #

    @ Gabriel

    Tom did indeed go to both schools (one a supreme school and the other a pompous hot house), thus the significance of his article in the independence issue of New World.
    In fact, a few years ago, I interviewed Tom on stage during the Black History Month in Newham, East London, and we talked about the very issue. I am not sure if it was recorded, I will check.
    We retired from the formalities to the pub to continue talking about the old school.
    You have compared me with Branford Taitt. He was a lawyer. If you call me a lawyer again I will sue.


  12. balance January 8, 2016 at 5:16 AM #

    “Colonel Buggy January 7, 2016 at 10:59 PM #

    Actually EWB made the recall of MP Vehicles on the morning that he won the general election in 1986. He asked for all MP’s cars to be deposited either on the Garrison pasture or the nearest police station. Just after he died , I recall seeing a high profile hangar-on, stopped on Rockley beach side driving an MP top of the line BMW,strolled into Cheffette, and came back across the road licking an icecream. The life of luxury. And so it continues.”

    Why do you all keep repeating this election rhetoric as a truth. No official directives were ever put in place by Mr Barrow or anyone else to have MP vehicles recalled.


  13. Ping Pong January 8, 2016 at 6:24 AM #

    I hope as we celebrate our 50th anniversary of independence that those in charge of administering Barbados are contemplating the impact of the drop in the price of oil. Ironically the long term drop in the price of oil may have more negative than positive consequences for us.

    While the drop in oil revenues will lead to greater social and economic instability in the mid east, Nigeria, Venezuela and Trinidad for example it will also have grave consequences for North America and Europe. In the UK, 65 billion pounds annually of government revenue comes from oil and related companies. A very significant percentage of pension fund investment is in the oil sector. Alaska for the first time in 40 years is instituting state income tax as it battles a growing fiscal deficit. How will this combination of social instability in oil dependent states and revenue loss in developed nations affect our tourism and other investment prospects in the future?

    By the way how come with the dramatic drop in oil prices we are not seeing a drop in the price of airline tickets?


  14. Gabriel January 8, 2016 at 8:48 AM #

    I was referring to Tom’s weekly contributions in the Nation newspaper of the mid to late 70’s.I looked forward to his and to Dr Ralph Gonsalves’s.Both columns were educational and very entertaining.After all both are scholars of distinction.I wonder what Denis Lowe is other than misguided parasite.Parasites are usually unwanted.


  15. Vincent Haynes January 8, 2016 at 1:22 PM #

    @balance January 8, 2016 at 5:16 AM #

    I was in Bim and my recollection was that EWB on the day before his death called in all MP vehicles to be parked at central,on his death the status quo resumed and nothing was ever mentioned of it again and if my recollection serves,a Cabinet reshuffle was coming as well.


  16. Well Well & Consequences2 January 8, 2016 at 1:25 PM #

    Why do the politicians still try to fool everyone that Barbados is so progressive, when the head entity that should be progressive is still backward and has not yet stepped into the 21st century. When Republic status is achieved I suggest that Andrew ‘Pilly’ Pilgrim be made President, he obviously has a more accurate handle on what the definition of progress for the island and supreme court means. The below post taken from barbadostoday is a national disgrace, the present lot of politicians are obviously too lazy to make the necessary changes, despite parliament being too top heavy with ministers and senators and lawyers.

    “Just cause
    Pilgrim wants ‘failed’ justice system fixed

    Added by Fernella Wedderburn on January 8, 2016.
    Saved under Local News

    Prominent criminal lawyer Andrew Pilgrim, QC, has made a strong case for greater consistency in sentencing and more timely trials, arguing that the system is broken and in need of urgent care.

    Pilgrim again criticized the lengthy delays in the court process – something for which the Caribbean Court of Justice has lambasted Barbados, charging that these delays rendered punishment meaningless.

    “It must be rectified if there is any justice. The guilty are punished, the innocent are released and if it takes you five years or more to punish the guilty or to release the innocent, your justice system is a complete failure,” the outspoken attorney claimed.

    “Sentencing no longer works in our system at all, our system more focuses on bail, so that members of the public and members of the press . . . we focus on when a person gets charged.”

    He pointed to the recent remand of Maurice Sandiford, 51, who was sent to prison for four days for the possession of a “five-bag” of marijuana.

    Pilgrim contended that the punishment did not fit the crime, as the possession of the non-trafficable quantities for personal use was a minor offense.

    He also made reference to the St Michael trio of young men who were recently remanded to prison until February 1 for shooting a police constable during a drug bust in Storey Hill, Codrington, St Michael.

    “People take so long to get to trial that we forget. These boys who were charged, they are not going to be tried before Barbados is 55. So, it just kind of lose track of the fact that our system is failing to punish people in a timely fashion; therefore, the system is not helping with what we perceive as the problems with people’s behavior.

    “The very justice system that should be trying to control people’s behavior and send messages about punishment is not doing that because it is taking too long to get people punished or acquitted,” Pilgrim told Barbados TODAY.

    He said there were obvious steps that could be taken to turn things around, including increasing the number of judges and the introduction of plea bargaining. However, he claimed there was a lack of will because these measures were not politically expedient.

    “It doesn’t get you votes to increase the number of judges, it doesn’t get you votes to introduce plea bargaining legislation; these things don’t get you votes [so] it is not going to be a priority until society is regarded as being in total disarray in terms of the criminal justice system. I don’t know what we are going to wait on to happen before we think something has to be done and that it needs urgent attention.

    “We have to do an entire review of the system to see why it works and why certain aspects don’t work,” he insisted.

    Pilgrim also recommended the issuing of transcripts, which he said took too long to be issued or entered into the system; outlining the functions of a Magistrate and assistance and training for police officers.

    And he was particularly strong in his criticism of the law that limits the number of High Court judges, describing it as “ridiculous”.

    “We have a law that says we cannot have more than the eight High Court judges at present. Can you imagine, a law that says that you cannot have more of something that is good? That’s how ridiculous we are in 2016. We have a law that says we are not allowed to have another High Court judge without changing the law,” he lamented.”


  17. Willie's January 8, 2016 at 1:32 PM #

    Since when does big-mouth Bizzy speak for white bajans? Between his recent crying episodes and now this foolish about being ‘crushed’ he should really retire from business and society. He is making himself look like a buffoon man.


  18. Well Well & Consequences2 January 8, 2016 at 1:38 PM #

    How backward and ignorant can politicians who are lawyers be, when they cannot understand that if you have a growing poulation, an island that expects growth, an expanding judiciary, you need more judges. Why do they have to attach politics to everything that could impede the islands progress. Taxpayers have to pay these jackasses a salary every month and all they do is introduce their slimy, destructive ways to every aspect of daily life and stagnate everything with their blighted ways.


  19. Heather January 9, 2016 at 9:58 AM #

    This article was puplished in Barbados Today in the weekend paper that was posted last night.


  20. Colonel Buggy January 9, 2016 at 1:14 PM #

    Well Well & Consequences2 January 8, 2016 at 1:38 PM #
    I hope that you are not surprised at this.
    We need more Sanitation Trucks to service the increasing communities.
    We need more buses to service the increasing population.
    We need more beds to accommodate the increasing sick people turning up at QEH
    We need more this and we need more that .And the list goes on.
    But what we are not short of , to satisfy the increase in population is housing. We have many Government sponsored apartment blocks in Dalkeith. We have thousands of boxes in Coverly. We have hundreds of houses in Church Village St Philip, Lancaster St James ,and Constant in Shortage, but unfortunately there is a shortage of occupants in these houses,and a shortage of will by the authorities to come to grips with the problem of keeping them closed up.


  21. Well Well & Consequences2 January 9, 2016 at 2:04 PM #

    Colonel…DBLP have screwed up over the years, we know they screwed up, they know they screwed up, they just don’t want to acknowledge that they screwed up and would prefer to continue the facade while trying to drag everyone else down into their delusion.

    Despite seeing the housing bubble burst in the US in 2004, in 2009, that goat Michael Lashley, vibrating with greed still allow the other goat Bjorn Bjerkhamn who was being funded by the now deceased billionaire from Miami to draw him into the Coverley scam, now they are left with those empty ovens. I lost track of the other housing scams and ovens they built that are now empty because people cannot afford to purchase or rent their ovens.

    Not surprised by the end results, but the politicians are frightening with their bad decisions that affect not them and their new friends when they attain sudden status,, but the people.


  22. Alvin Cummins January 9, 2016 at 2:44 PM #

    @Well Well;
    You wrote: “… Taxpayers have to pay these jackasses a salary every month and all they do is introduce their slimy, destructive ways to every aspect of daily life and stagnate everything with their blighted ways.”

    And you want to hire more of them?


  23. waterman14 January 9, 2016 at 2:45 PM #

    Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by NationBarbados.
    I’ve said this time and time again in the Barbados Nation Newsppapers. Call
    the BWA manager, Dr.John Mwansa and Minister Dr. David Estwick and ask them
    about the hundreds of millions of tax payers dollars already spent in the past by both political parties to hire foreign consultants to develop plans to address the country’s water
    problems. These two gentlemen are fully aware of the recommendations made by those
    consultants’ reports. All the Barbados government needs to o right now is to implement
    those plans. I know all of this because I was involved in preparing some of those reports.
    And I have full details. The details are quite lengthy. But I’ll try to summarize and post.
    However, what really baffles me is Dr. John Mwansa, the manager at the BWA, is totally
    aware of these studies, and I’ve had email correspondence with him regarding this matter
    and apparently, for what ever reason, he’s just not bringing this information to the
    attention of Minister Estwick or PM Stuart. Millions of tax payers dollars were already
    spent to hire foreign consultants to characterize the prolific freshwater lens existing in the
    limestone aquifers under the island. A tremendous amount of geophysical work has
    already been completed by the consultants. I’ll try to summarize what was done and
    provide names of the foreign consultants who worked on these projects in another post.
    There’s no way in hell citizens of Barbados should have to depend on water trucks or
    desalination plants for their daily, basic water supplies!! Bajans. Breaking News!! Your
    Government apparently has already made arrangements with the Suriname government
    to purchase potable water at the rate of US$55 million a year from Suriname even though
    you folks have far less expensive drinking water flowing in the limestone freshwater lens
    under your very feet on every part of the island. Why not call and ask BWA manager
    Dr.John Mwansa and Minister Dr.David Estwick to fill you in on these details.
    Furthermore, ask your PM Stuart to speak with President Granger of Guyana. I’m certain
    your PM can negotiate a far better deal with President Granger than the Suriname
    Government. The water that Suriname is proposing to sell to Barbados is actually water
    that flows in Guyana’s underground aquifers BEFORE it reaches the SAME underground
    aquifers in Suriname. As you may know the meaning of the word Guyana is the “Land of
    Many Waters.” If for some reason these two political leaders don’t know how to work this
    out technically, I’ll provide FREE GUIDANCE to both of them!! Freshwater from the lens
    located under the entire island is far cheaper than surface reservoir water or desalination
    water. And there is no need to acquire expensive land in the case of surface reservoirs, or
    membrane maintenance in the case of desalination plants. Let’s wait and see what the
    government response is. By the way, I’m the best in the world at what I do.


  24. Well Well & Consequences2 January 9, 2016 at 3:14 PM #

    What are you talking about Alvin, hire more of what, I know you don’t mean politicians, you are now trying to pick my brain…ok, no biggie. Since DBLP are all so inept, instead of hiring more I would let go all the current lot, hire 10 COMPETENT individuals, ban yardfowlism, one lawyer, one doctor and the other 8 leaders would have to be not only qualified politicians, but having common sense would also be a requirement. ..guess there will be no room for you and AC. No small island needs 16 or 17 incompetent people to manage when 8 competent, highly intelligent ones with common sense would suffice, it would save taxpayers money and rid the treasury of parasitic yardfowls.

    It would also be nice if everyone your DBLP politicians could serve some quality time in Dodds for all the destruction they caused in the country and for causing generations of innocents going forward to be born into unwarranted debt. History, however, always repeats itself because they always, without fail, make the same mistakes and they will pay, one way or another, there is no getting away from karma.

    The people hire politicians to do a job, manage the country, that is why they are paid every month, instead they turn their jobs into a pimping circus, defying their bosses, the people, at every turn.

    I watched a short segment of Anderson Cooper this morning, Obama was being questioned live by the taxpayers, he had to answer their questions intelligently, he could not run and hide in the white house like Fruendel hides in Llaro court and don’t answer the people’s concerns, that is being low rent and despicable, am sure he has no problem collecting his salary every month, he would never hide from those checks. I would not even mention the other equally low rent ministers, all their dirty deeds will come out in the wash, on social media……that is what taxpayers are getting for their money….you must be proud Alvin.


  25. Alvin Cummins January 10, 2016 at 1:56 PM #

    @ Well Well,
    FIFTY YEARS and still “punching above our weight.!Quite an achievement for incompetents, don’t you think?
    I am indeed proud.


  26. Well Well & Consequences2 January 10, 2016 at 3:39 PM #

    Alvin……what weight, thevisland is choking in debt. When Koffi Annan said that as UN Secretary General….do any of you understand what he was try ing to say, you are stealing whatbhe said to try and impress me….lol…..what he was speaking about had nothing to do with independence and everything to do woth accumulating debt in the 2000s…..your delusions copied from DBLP will be the end of the innocent people’s standard of living and quality of life, if they buy into your bullshit rhetoric…..but you cannot sell that rubbish to me,I don’t buy pigs in bags.


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