Christmas Street Scrubbers

by Baba Elombe

I returned to Barbados from studying in May, 1966 and immediately joined the Barbados Arts Council. I was elected to the Executive and given the position of Public Relations Officer. One of the responsibilities was the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation program on the Arts. This program never interviewed members of the artistic community but played a consistent diet of European Art Music.

The Arts Council received an invitation from the Organization of the American States (OAS) to participate in the Folk Festival of the Americas.  This Festival was going to take place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where I lived for four years and understood the phenomenon of “Folk Music” in that very European part of Canada.

I recommended that we send Potato Mout and Seaman Tuk Band and the Street Scrubber, Shilling, to which the President of the Council, Sir Randolph Douglas, Chief Justice of Barbados, who without hesitation, skin up he nose in de air and with flick of his left hand, dismiss me the comment, “Too common!!!”

Some weeks after the official ceremony of Barbados achieving its Independence, I recorded a half hour of music by the Benn Hill Sports Band in Lower Carlton, St James.  It was a Tuk Band and I was using a cassette recorder for the first time and the quality was such that I decided to use it on the Arts Council Program. As I started to play the music, the operator ran down stairs to the program manager to complain, that “a man was upstairs in the studio playing a lot foolishness. This was the folk music of Barbados, created and performed by Bajans.

I have spent most of my life trying to tap into what it is that make us Bajans.  What is it that was so distinct and unique to Barbados? You will be able to read The Music Bubbles – a 4 Volume study of Music in Barbados.  I will be sharing what I discovered about our music and the people who performed it.

Music is a language and a language can be musical.  I want you to hear what I use to hear.  I ask you one condition, please share with friends and family, especially children.  This is my Xmas present to us.

Christmas was defined by Village Choirs and Tuk Bands, who went around to houses beginning the celebrations…..Listen

Baba Elombe

54 thoughts on “Christmas Street Scrubbers

  1. “I recommended that we send Potato Mout and Seaman Tuk Band and the Street Scrubber, Shilling, to which the President of the Council, Sir Randolph Douglas, Chief Justice of Barbados, who without hesitation, skin up he nose in de air and with flick of his left hand, dismiss me the comment, “Too common!!!”

    Give them a title and that is the result and more.

  2. I muse upon these things and can recall the men who came around at Xmas singing outside peoples’ homes and this I recall hearing “Goodnight to the master and mistress of this fantastic motoradical highway cottage(the group would respond after each line aaaiiippp) I now arrive from my land crockmuhdockmuh(aaiiippp)and if Mr Clarke was a cheerful giver(aaaiiippp)He would give we something to cool we liver(aaaiiippp)While we wait I call upon my bandmaster to raise another beautiful tune…..doh mi sol doh doh mi.”

  3. WW& C at 3:12 PM

    Could dear WW&C ,some uh we were then trying to find we way. The only culture we knew was agriculture.

  4. I have spent most of my life trying to tap into what it is that make us Bajans.
    What is it that was so distinct and unique to Barbados?
    What makes us Bajan? …..The Barbados Slave Code,

    How is it distinct?
    After 400 years of systematic breeding of the worse attributes of self-denegation, white worship, self-hate and hopelessness, we have arrived at a level of brass bowlery that is unparalleled by ANY other people anywhere.

    If Baba really understood our history – and the IMPACT of the Barbados Slave Code, then he would not expect Bajans to appreciate, or to value, anything that comes from among themselves…. or to value cleanliness, productivity, ownership, culture and family.

    Winter Crawford, EWB and others of their ilk were just outlier blips – who created a temporary, generational, respite from the despair…. probably for a very specific purpose, related to a much larger plan….

    The only redemption is that …it has historically been from among such dregs of society that BBE has raised up prophets, wise men, and giants.

  5. Maybe there is something to be said for Ronald Jones approach to six form expansion in an attempt to dismantle the tie system Barbadians hold so dear.

  6. I strongly suggest Black Bajans and Caribbean people do some ancestry genetic testing and find their identities, they will be completely surprised at the results, but will finally know their true

    A very close family member just got their results..

    Benin, Togo, Cameroon, Congo……4 different tribes and cultures, over 100 different African languages…. majority bloodline

    ….. also french, english and some german included courtesy of colonial thieves and rapists…….

    Then….the minority bloodline.

    South West Sweden, Denmark, Norway bordered to South Germany….

    I believe I mentioned on here that my minority bloodline is in other parts of europe, but not in UK, Scotland, Ireland nor Wales…….wont many be shocked out of their minds when they learn they have no british, scotish, irish or welsh blood….only certain islands like Jamaica have that bloodline….the others are more diverse out of europe.

    … is a myth to believe you know from whence your bloodlines extends without genetic testing…and just because some half idiots want to tell you your identity when they do not even know their own,.

    It is an even bigger myth and fantasy and stupidity to believe you are anything other than African…….and a Baba.

  7. Bushie
    We are less certain.

    Though the slave culture explains a lot of what make the Bajan we believe other factors could also be/have contributed.

  8. @ Pacha
    Though the slave culture explains a lot of what make the Bajan we believe other factors could also be/have contributed.
    You are obviously right.
    But to what extent would you attribute the impact of these ‘other factors’, ..and are these really unrelated to our past 5 centuries of slave history?

  9. WW whats with paying all this money for genetic aint got a mirror. Now how do you know your ancestors didnt eat a bunch of german missionaries for dna rather than being raped by one. It seems the genetic tester made sure all his bases were covered and has you akin to some type of calico cat. You should have spent the extra 10 bucks and found out you were related to obama.

  10. The life story of Elombe is a fair representation of modern barbados.

    Whether political, economic, social, technological, environmental or legal

    All these strands of culture intersect within Mottley.

  11. David December 26, 2017 at 6:26 AM #
    Is it possible for you to deal with content?

    how often is this done by anyone on BU?


  12. lawson December 26, 2017 at 9:23 AM #
    RE You should have spent the extra 10 bucks and found out you were related to obama.


  13. Another mapping and profound understanding of our cultural history. In any other society Elombe would have been celebrated. There are other questions to be asked, the impact of the Renaissance and Enlightenment on Barbadian culture – both on the plantation house and on the field workers. (We must not forget that our culture is a hybrid of European and African).
    Sometime ago I suggested that CBC and the UWI should jointly work on building an archive our our folk history, by going through every village and talking to the elderly about what life was like in their communities when they were young. We are already losing that history.
    Recently I engaged @John about our culinary and food history and some idiot – I believe he lives in Canada – asked if I was serious.
    Had it been party politics or something to do with a legal row that person would have understood.
    Enjoy the holidays.

  14. HAL
    AS YOU HAVE OPINED AND AS YOU WOULD NOTE BU IS A DEPOSIT OF DAILY DRIVEL AND DIATRIBE ABOUT party politics or something to do with a legal row


  15. GP I said obama because usually it is the queen people end up being related to and I didnt want WW to go off on a tirade and up her blood pressure.
    Hal Trudeau has no interest in carribean cooking ……or is there another idiot

  16. Lawson at 9:52 AM

    You may not have up WW&C blood pressure but you certainly up her bloodline. DNA tests? To prove what?
    I was under the impression that the subect under discussion was Bajan cultural arts and the cotribution which Elombe made to its resuscitation.

  17. Was there supposed to be a music file attached to this submission?

    I made a reference to “Potato Mout” in a recent post but he was also known as “Archie Bumma” or something similar, I seem to recall in addition to playing at Xmas time he also appeared with what we called a “tiltman” (nowadays that would be stiltman). Trinidad has kept its Xmas music tradition alive with Parang.

    • @Sarge

      Thanks, with all the hustle and bustle of the season the audio was not uploaded. Check the blog to listen to the audio .

      All the best to you and the family!

  18. It is always the exception that proves the rule.
    Elombe is such an exception….. like Crawford and Barrow were (politically) back in the 50’s, Baba has been a cultural exception in Barbados.

    But just as all that Crawford and EWB stood for has dissolved into nothing on their passing, so too has all of Mottley’s enthusiasm, creativity and achievements dissolved into nothingness.

    The question to be addressed therefore is why have we not been able to get a critical mass to follow these clearly exceptional outliers in moving the society forward politically in the first place, …and culturally in Baba’s case?

    It is ALL interconnected.

    It is also why we have not moved forward economically – despite having outstanding black business successes such as the Leacocks, Elcocks, Raysides etc.

    We have not moved forward in sports despite having UNQUESTIONED talents such as Oba, and COUNTLESS others who have been wasted along the wayside…

    Even in our much vaunted ‘education’ we have regressed – after spending more money per capita on education than most other countries on earth….. we have no great scholars of international acclaim; our ‘business leaders’ are foreigners; our political leaders are clear idiots; our church leaders are shiitehounds….
    Trying to isolate the ‘problem with culture’ then will be misleading.
    The problem is MUCH wider.

    It is best described as national brass bowlery.
    A condition where a people do NOT know themselves;
    do NOT know their strengths;
    do NOT know their history;
    and do not know their potential.

    Instead, they have been brainwashed into a FOREIGN ideology that is the very antithesis of their NATURE; an ideology in which they always feel INFERIOR; and where they have been socialised to idealise their albino-centric ‘superiors’.

    Solving this problem requires DEPROGRAMMING and reverse-brainwashing…. with REAL education.
    Hilary Beckles and the very same Baba started the process some years ago, but they BOTH failed miserably….
    Sir Cave could not resist the temptations on the ‘Hill’…
    …and Baba ran off to Jamaica (with a sweet woman) where the people believe in themselves almost to a fault….

    Our brass bowl goose is cooked….. unless of course David Comes-and-sings-a-song…

  19. @ Bushie at 11:03 AM

    You sure have this one right. Elombe would find cultural peace in Jamaica. It is the most culturally mature country in the Caribbean. It has a citizenry that is comfortable in its own skin. My sojourn there was a significant period in my development.

  20. @ Bernard
    Bushie had significant exposure too…. Made all the difference in the world.
    An unstoppable people….hard to imagine what would happen if they were ever to be blessed with true visionary leadership.

  21. It is best described as national brass bowlery.
    A condition where a people do NOT know themselves;
    do NOT know their strengths;
    do NOT know their history;
    and do not know their potential.


    but allow greedy, stupid c#nts like Bizzy, John Liesalot and Vincent Haynes and a whole pool of maggots to make up identities for them without actively seeking out genetic testing for themselves…and particularly their families.

    they will never be comfortable in their own skins as long as they do not know their true identities.

  22. Bernard…keep running away from your cultural and genetic identity…lets see how far you can run...lets see how far you get, even the cooking, if your were so fortunate to know your real identity…would tell you who you really are…but alas.

    where do you think that cultural tuk band, the present variation of music originated.

  23. Happy Holidays fellow BU bloggers

    I returned to sunny ☀️ and warm Barbados 🇧🇧 yesterday to witness Barbadians enjoying themselves to the maximum .

    Here is the evidence:

    Hilton hotel was crammed for Christmas lunch and dinner – by locals and visitors alike !
    Queens Park was crammed by thousands on Christmas morning !
    Stores & supermarket owners cannot wait until tomorrow morning when the banks opened – to fully bank there thousands of $$$$$ made from Christmas sales !
    Hotels and guests houses are full to the brimmed !

    Bajans are over the moon !

    This DLP government have held together well !

    The next 180 days plus to go before general elections will see the Dems banner raised high again !

    Thanks to King Stuart and his wonderful team of experts!

    • @Fractured BLP

      Is the shitty sewage (pardon the double) still bubbling on the South Coast?

      What is the current level of foreign reserves?

  24. Perhaps Fcuktured DLP may have been reading the DLP’s website to be spewing such political propaganda.

    Because business owners have publically admitted that, although there was the usual “last minute shopping,” sales were at an all time low this year.

    Fcuktured, I hope Michael Carrington shopped for Christmas gifts using HIS money………. and not funds with-held from a client.

  25. @ Artax
    Fcuktured, I hope Michael Carrington shopped for Christmas gifts using HIS money………. and not funds with-held from a client.
    Why are you holding Michael Carrington to a higher standard than every other lawyer in Barbados?
    Don’t you know it is the right of any lawyer bout here to use client funds as their own personal working account?
    Why do you think there are no audits; no accounting, no accountability?
    How do you think the big rides and big houses are financed…? bank mortgages…???

    Skippa, if anyone EVER does an audit …. dog dead…!!!

    LOL ha ha ha
    Sometimes you can be so funny Artax…

  26. Bushie

    We’re still thinking about this slave epoch as sole causal reason

    We’re already agreed with you that it primary within the dominate narratives.

    The obvious causation

    But what if slavery was merely a byproduct of a war between Afrika and Europe, as master narrative.

    Could it be possible that our ignorance about spirituality as manifested by the book and those who lean thereon is not dissimilar to accepted narratives about the presence of Afrikans in the western hemisphere, over the last 500 years.

    And if that war on Afrika, which is still being prosecuted, came to be seen as primary, would that realization transform our acili.

  27. Hi David BU

    Good questions

    I will check out those tomorrow and get back to you .

    As I heard of no pandemic outbreak or shortage of foreign currency 💴…..I believe the official situation is not as dire as you may want to suggest.

    But I will seek to get the official word tomorrow .


    Pay more attention to Bushie

    You will soon learn not ask nonsensical questions !


    Continue to have a great time

    Continue to keep the Artaxes of this world 🌎 on track !

  28. @ Fractured BLP December 26, 2017 at 12:41 PM
    “The next 180 days plus to go before general elections will see the Dems banner raised high again !
    Thanks to King Stuart and his wonderful team of experts!”

    Broken Record, you should have shouted: ‘All hail the King of Shit and his entourage of sewer rats’!

    After your Mia LEC thing has turned into a dud and OSA appearing at a DLP meeting with Carry-away-a-ton as the thieving speaker to reveal Mia’s Achilles heel has fallen on death ears what’s up now with your sewage crap? On which yellow-tail DLP shit donkey are you going to pin the blame?

    So you believe you have 180 days plus days to go to completely turn Barbados into the shit capital of the tourism world?

    Then, good for you and yours! That only means you and your fellow gutter-snipers intend to rule by decree after declaring Barbados a fully ripened banana republic next month to celebrate the ‘blackening’ of EWB’s 98th and internment of his legacy that you bunch of crooked corrupt wild boys have tarnished beyond recognition even by the Devil residing at the Garrison.

    Here is a “good question” for you, Fcukuptured beyond DLP repair:

    So when do you intend to present the Appropriations Bill for the coming financial year 2018-2019? Certainly NOT in March 2018 if you intend to go for another 180 days paddling in the sewer?

    Can the taxpayers expect to hear in February how their hard-earned money will be spent before the current sitting of Parliament 2013 to 2018 ceases to have Constitutional life after the first week in March 2018?

    There is no way you will be bringing before general elections a set of Estimates which must reflect that income and expenditure budget which has been imposed by the IMF.

    There is no way those ‘agreed’ harsh expenditure cuts contained in that politically-suicidal plan can be revealed to the public before one greenback of balance of payments support (IMF loan to prop up the 3 weeks forex reserves) is credited to the Treasury via the CB.

    PS: Please return with your answers before there is a pandemic of diseases deceit lies and propaganda (DLP) style to usher in your annus horribilis at the George Street cesspool.

  29. millertheanunnaki

  30. Pacha…they cant see what is right in front of them….no identities because they dont want to know who who they are, although they have the resources at their dispoal to find out….

    ……..AND they are blind……you cannot want dumber, dumbed down generations of people….

    Lawson the Mutt already knows he is irrelevant and is looking for company in his misery.

  31. @ David,

    The snare drum is too loud but you can use a graphic equalizer to balance the instruments.

    The musicians are good.

    very enjoyable.

  32. Know your history and identity.


    The music of the drums was brought to the island of Barbados by African slaves who arrived on the island in the mid-1600s.

    The newly initiated slaves were forced to leave their drums behind, but found the Mahogany trees on the island well suited for the drum base, and they fashioned the drum skin from sheep, goats and cattle.

    The English slave owners instituted a law in the late 1600s to outlaw the playing of drums, with one of the penalties being death.

    The plantation owners were afraid the slaves would use the drums to “talk to each other”, and organize rebellions.

    The drums were an intricate part of the African culture, and the African slaves could no more stop playing the drum as they could stop breathing.

    The slaves simply altered their drum playing to sound like the music of the English fife and drum corps. After this was accomplished, they played during the weekend celebrations and when away from the sugar cane fields.

    No doubt the slaves did figure out a way to communicate with their drums, and Barbados was one of the earlier islands to abolish slavery.”

  33. “Is the shitty sewage (pardon the double) still bubbling on the South Coast?”

    Yes, just as it is here with Well Well What A Racist Moron I Am.

  34. Lol……Jeez 45fraudster….all you wanted and thought of for xmas is me, how did I manage to get into your head like

  35. Well Well

    Quite right

    These are the reasons we will continue to call people like Walter Blackman and ‘island scholars’ like Georgie Porgie idiots.

    There was a time when the word ‘idiot’ meant polymath. Just like there was a time when ‘computer’ meant a genius mathematician, a human

    In relation to those two and all the rest, maybe 99.999% of the population, we obviously mean the more modern definition.

    We often wonder how the sick minds of ‘black’ Christians would be transformed if they knew that the word ‘white’ as used, in relation to people, was a sign or symbol of or for spirituality. Not pigmentation.

    For the so-called modern ‘white’ people are more precisely pink. Nature is unknown for making such fundamental errors.

    At that time, the term ‘white’ was used exclusively in reference to Afrikan peoples. Their spirituality. Afrikan peoples were the ‘white’ people of the earth.

    Maybe an immersion into the world of etymology could be transformative of the national viscera.

  36. Dont hold your breath Pacha…blacks, particularly in Barbadosm, would much prefer be reenslaved, shackled and whipped mercilessly again just to prove how stupid they are, rather than fight the demons who brainwashed them and still does it to generations of them, it is mindnumbing to see the paper scholars proudly displaying their ugly brainwash.

    Let them carry on smartly, protect your own family, make sure they are enlightened and equipped to resist…resistance works best.

    Feliz uno nuevo.

  37. Singing and dancing comes naturally to Bajans. Why do you think most church organs had a full ranks of open diapasons. They were built to control our voices and regulate our natural upbeat rhythms. Those were the days before Collis Bailey and Bentley Callender became organists.

  38. Good evening all,

    On the quest to know your ancestral identity (which is a good thing), please be aware that there’s a genetic bank being built for the purpose of experimentation, to create human hybrids from the best of stock via the test tube and the surrogate.

    Bush Tea December 26, 2017 at 11:03 AM #

    Our cultural identity encompasses the Tuk Band, the Land Ship, Mother Sally, The Stilt Man, The Donkey Man, The Green Monkeys and Saggy Bears, among others.. and in my opinion the Tuk Band rhythm rather than Spouge can be the vehicle use to take it to another level.

    The RING BANG RHYTHM, (kudos to EDDIE GRANT.. who has taken tuk band to another level) has the Tuk Band rhythm as its base line. It harnesses the elements/acts mentioned above and can take our ” entertainment culture” to yet another level by using OUR international artistes to promote it (RING BANG) and the history (TUK BAND).

    just my 2 cents worth.

  39. 9….to get the genetic material to make the best of stock is no easy feat, unless dummies lie down willingly and allow them to take it, they must have access to female eggs and males sperm.

    “The truth has to be told that the real reason why men are forced to toil from dawn till dusk is the presence of THE PROFIT-MAKING VAMPIRE on their backs, and the hardest workers are usually the poorest sufferers.

    The capitalist Vampire has to make huge profits. That is the blood he drinks.”

  40. @ Well Well & Cut N’ Paste At Your Service

    Plenty of opportunity available to harvest DNA, once a valid reason exist, half the task is already accomplished. Like organs, one is lured into a compromising position and the selected organ is taken, only to be left on minimum life support and be discovered. South America seems to have a hive of activity. Even Undertakers are in the do.

    back to the topic

    Carifesta seem to have little impact. Something was lacking as far as putting our culture up front being the host country, maybe the focus should have been on bringing it to the people FREE OF CHARGE as the whole exercise was financed by its relative organizers. yes?

  41. George Bridgewater (1778-1860), a violinist of African origin born in present-day Poland. By the age of nine, his father (who was probably born in Barbados) had taken him to London, where he was shown off as a child prodigy, performing in front of the likes of Thomas Jefferson and George IV. Several of Bridgewater’s compositions survive, although few have been recorded. His story was also the basis for a 2007 opera, written by Julian Joseph.

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