A group of artists recorded a compilation of songs.  Their compilation was uploaded on YouTube (outside of Barbados), where it had to compete with over 800 million other videos.  After one week, it joined hundreds of millions of other videos in the YouTube graveyard.

Three weeks later, Barbadian: politicians, news media, clergy, and business leaders started to vigorously promote the video.  Their actions brought a dead video to life, and then moved it into the mainstream of Barbadian society.  The obvious question is, why.


Most Barbadians would not normally watch such a fringe video.  But we were compelled to watch it, because we were expected to join those in condemning the artists, and it is wicked to condemn someone without evidence.

The video’s main message is completely opposite to that of the Police’s.  The Police rely on people who see something, to say something.  The video’s message is that saying something is an automatic death sentence.


The video explained that there is no safe place where informants can hide.  There will be no reprieve, hesitation, negotiation, or mercy.  Informants should expect to be executed swiftly.

Saying something is a mark of a responsible citizen.  However, 16 minutes of indoctrination, suggested that saying something was wrong, while murdering informants was honourable.


Why did Barbadian politicians, news media, clergy, and business leaders undermine the Police’s public message, by promoting the gangs’ threats?  I spoke with some of the clergy to find the answer.

It appears that they were tricked by the media, to promote the video through their condemnation of it.  Our clergy do not normally use the public relations expertise available to our news media, businesses, and established political parties.  They were unaware that there is no such thing as negative publicity.  So, it is easy to see how they could be so deceived.


Barbadian politicians, news media, and business leaders do not have the same excuse.  Every day, they decide which messages they will promote, and which messages must die on the vine – by simply ignoring them.  It was easily foreseen, that the only result of their actions, would be to promote the gangs’ message.

Why was it so important, for this message of intimidation to be brought into the Barbadian mainstream at this time?  To answer this, we must remember that we have unsuccessfully tried to solve this puzzle of: gangs, guns, drugs, violence, and corruption in Barbados for decades.  Here are some of the pieces of this puzzle.


1.  In 2008, Barbados reported to the OAS that we had 150 gangs, with 4,000 members, which is an average of about 26 persons in each gang.  That same year, the Bajan Reporter published a shocking report of how gangs recruited our school children.

2.  In 2017, Small Arms Survey found that 1,675 guns were used by the Barbados military, and 2,000 by the police. The number of unlawfully held guns was estimated at 7,000.

3.  In 2017, the DLP reported that gang leaders were operating without fear of prosecution in Barbados. They noted that kidnappings, executions, drug trafficking, and legitimate businesses were part of their normal activities. They further noted that prominent members of Barbadian society were linked to the importation of illegal guns.

4.  In 2017, with gun violence out of all control, the DLP proposed anti-gang legislation.  Gang members would be liable for 20 years imprisonment, and gang leaders, 25 years.

5.  In 2018, the new BLP administration chose not to pursue anti-gang legislation.  They noted that it would only be used as a last resort.

6.  On 22 October 2019, in the 52nd sitting of the House of Assembly, former BLP politician, Atherley claimed to know that it was true that Parliamentarians facilitated drug lords in Barbadian communities.  He then challenged his fellow Parliamentarians to deny it.  None reportedly did so during the meeting.

In just 16 minutes, ten Barbadian artists solved this puzzle in a way that perfectly explained the evidence.  The final picture is particularly chilling.  Rather than thank them for solving the puzzle, we are directed to condemn them for the crude way in which they did so.  We need to look deeper.


Our police are significantly outgunned.  Their main weapon against crime has been undermined by the gangs’ most successful public relations initiative ever.  Barbadians who do what is right, because it is right, must now consider violating their conscience and self-preservation.

Again, why did they bring the gangs’ message of intimidation from the fringe, to the mainstream.  Most of us have no dealings with gangs or guns, so why was it necessary for every Barbadian household to be intimidated now?  I have no idea.  But here is a striking coincidence.


On 25 May 2021, the Auditor General published his report.  That report shows that the potential gross corruption between the Government and businesses under the last administration, has not changed under the current.  Notably, most Barbadians either work for Government or businesses.

The media ignored the Auditor General’s report until 31 May 2021.  On that same day, the trinity of our media, politicians and business leaders hurriedly directed us to watch a video.  That video informed us that we only had two choices – keep quiet, or be executed by a hail of gunfire.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

How De Yutes Get So?

Submitted by Just Observing

26 years ago there was a hue and cry when a then young Minister of Education who managed a group of artists brought school aged students to the Wildey Gymnasium to be “feted” by none other than Mr. Edwin Yearwood, Pic of De Crop winner.

At the time this mass “party” was unheard of but clearly went on to become a staple of B/DLP politics, campaigning and our cultural and sub cultural landscape.

Fast forward 27 years to the present and we have a young Minister of Education who manages a group of artists and uses them for promotional and motivational student videos (covid, back to school, stop the bullying etc.) including the popular Mole, Peter Ram and others.

BUT, here is the rub. The attached video shows the duality of entertainment and the flip side of performance roles.


So, one day it’s go to school, learn well, sanitise and don’t trouble nobody. The next day it’s gunshots showering like storm, high grade, kush, 357’s, AR’s and coffins for informers who get shot.

All coming from the same mouths, with the same faces, in the same spaces.

All managed and seemingly endorsed by a young Minister of Education whose business interests apparently diverge from the broader national, social and values based interests when convenient.

Imagine this at a time when violence, guns, shooting and fear of serious crime continue to climb. This is what far too many of our young people glorify, rejoice in and give praise to.

As one of the same said artists said over 30 years ago…..

“Well boh, I find out doh, uh NOW realise how de yutes get so”

Hail King Swallow: A Polished Man of Kaiso and Art

Submitted by Dr. Hollis ‘’Chalkdust’’ Liverpool

My last article on ‘’Respect for PhDs’’ caused many eyebrows to be raised: some people wanted to find out if persons without PhDs should not be respected; others asked if we shouldn’t show respect for the Opposition members in Parliament as well. My response to all such vain questions is that at age eleven at Primary school with Mr. Lionel P. Mitchell in Tobago, we had to write in our Government copy books for penmanship the following lines: ‘’Have respect for every man because he is a man.’’ I rest my case.

Well, the need to show respect for every man and woman was, however, again awakened in me when Antiguan Sir Rupert Philo (Swallow), a man in every sense of the word, went to heaven last Friday, for I recalled him telling me in the mid-1980s that it was a joy for him to sing to the Trinidad audience, since singing in Trinidad meant that he was mixing with the top calypsonians, and, ‘’Charkee bwoy, the Trini people does show me respect.’’ In terms of respect, he explained, that when his name was announced by Tommy Joseph at Spektakula Forum, the crowd roared with delight; when he went to book his room at Chaguaramus Flats where he normally stayed annually, the authorities there knowing that he came to Trinidad every year, already booked it for him without any down payment made; when he walked the streets of Port of Spain, all hailed his name aloud; when he checked in to BWIA without having the correct ticket and booking, his seat on the aircraft was already assured; and when he sought to go to a concert of any kind in Trinidad and Tobago, no one dared to ask him for an entrance fee. The voice at the concert door was always: ‘’Swallow, you are free to enter.’’ In addition, Sunshine Awards gave him the prize for the ‘’Best Engineered Recording’’ and ‘’Best Calypso Arrangement’’ in 1989 (Fire in the Back Seat), and had placed him in the ‘’Sunshine Awards Hall of Fame’’ in year 2008. For all the afore-mentioned reasons that sparked of respect, Swallow loved to sing in Trinidad and Tobago and did so up to a few years ago when he appeared nightly at the Calypso Revue Tent with top artists such as Sugar Aloes, Pink Panther, Cro Cro and Sprangalang, to name a few. I recall one year when Swallow was here, while we were travelling to Skinner Park, he fell ill. When I saw blood coming from his nose, I turned my car and headed straight for the hospital. The nurses at the Emergency ward began to interview him, as it were, for on hearing his accent, they were asking him if he was a Trinidadian, since the medical service was for Trinis. I immediately jumped in: ‘’Folks, are you all mad? That is Swallow,’’ I bellowed! Hearing the magic name Swallow, they immediately changed their attitude and wheeled him inside where he obtained, in the hour that followed, the best that a Trini hospital could offer. Truly, Swallow was held in high esteem by Trinidadians, especially after he sang ‘’Trinidad, the Caribbean Godfather.’’ In addition, one of Gypsy’s absolute gems in calypso is the one entitled ‘’Respect the calypsonian.’’

In terms of respect, however, the history of calypso shows that there have been multiple occasions, too numerous to mention, when calypsonians in Trinidad were shown total disrespect. For example, in 1955 one sunny Friday evening, five calypsonians were entertaining tourists on Wrightson Road, then a haven for tourists, when suddenly, the police darted into the calypso crowd and arrested three of them. The litigants spent two days in prison and were charged five dollars for their crime on the following Monday. Years later, one of them told me that he could not travel to New York because of that ‘’criminal’’ stamp placed on his passport and the fact that the bad mark from the Court stained his character for the rest of his life. Headteacher L. P. Mitchell used to make us write also: ‘’When character is lost, all is lost.’’

Another example of the disrespect occurred in the 1960s when calypsonians used to entertain guests at tables in restaurants all over Port of Spain. A few restaurant owners felt that the singers were a nuisance. Indeed, a restaurant at the corner of Frederick and Park streets had at its entrance a large sign which read: ‘’No calypsonians and dogs allowed.’’ I can give you readers several more examples of disrespect shown to calypsonians but the above, I believe, should satisfy the point.

On the other hand, the government of Antigua displayed total respect for Swallow and continues up to this day to do so to all calypsonians. First, for his contribution to the art form of calypso, Swallow was named a cultural ambassador for Antigua and given all rights and privileges to the esteemed post. Second, when I was Director of Culture and travelled to Antigua, I was given an ‘’Official’’ passport. Swallow would ask me where was my ‘’Red’’ passport, since he thought that I ought to have one. I may be wrong, but I have never known any calypsonian in Trinidad and Tobago to have been given a red, diplomatic passport (in some countries they are black). Besides Swallow, other artists namely Short Shirt in Antigua, Frankie McIntosh in St Vincent and Gabby in Barbados (2007) were named as cultural ambassadors for their countries and are holders of such passports which indicate to the Immigration officers of foreign countries that they, as holders, are diplomats and are acting on behalf of the countries that they represent. Thus, everything is usually done in their lands and overseas to make their travel smooth, comfortable and without any hiccups.

Third, in year 2011, Swallow was knighted by the Government of Antigua and the official title of ‘’Sir’’ (the highest award in the state) bestowed on him. Fourth, on being made a knight, he was granted a monthly salary by his state until his death. He called me on receipt of his monthly salary one night to find out if mine was bigger and to ascertain if the state of Antigua was robbing him. He could not believe that the ORTT award in Trinidad given to me carried no perks: salary, housing, medical insurance etc. His knighthood had all such perks to the extent that during his illness, the government of Antigua paid all his medical expenses in New York for more than a year. Fifth, many singers in Trinidad could not understand how Swallow was able to come here for carnival annually. Well, although the calypso promoters in Trinidad had to pay for his hotel and other expenses, the government of Antigua granted him free travel whenever he promoted the land and its culture overseas, so that Swallow, naturally, in singing calypso was seen by Antiguans as selling Antigua to the world. Accordingly, they paid all his airfares.

Sixth, when in the 1980s a band in New York refused to pay him for his performance at Madison Square Garden and was coming to Antigua to perform for carnival there, Swallow promptly told them that unless he was fully paid, they couldn’t come to Antigua. Of course, they laughed at him and landed at V.C. Bird airport. Swallow went to the Prime Minister, then Mr. V.C. Bird, and laid his complaint. History would record that Mr Bird ordered the Immigration to put them out of the state. The band begged him and offered to pay since they had contracts to fulfil in Antigua. Prime Minister V.C. Bird refused. ‘’Leave the state for ridiculing and disrespecting Swallow.’’ It is, in my opinion, true to state that no government in Trinidad and Tobago, colonial or post- colonial, has ever treated any local calypsonian in the esteemed manner, as was done by the Government of Antigua to Sir Rupert Philo (Swallow).

My heart is overjoyed, then, when our Caribbean universities see it fit not only to honour PhDs but to state that artists like King Sparrow, Lord Kitchener, Roy Cape, Pelham Goddard, Merle Albino DeCoteau, Winsford Devine, Eintou Springer, Derek Walcott, Earl Lovelace, Black Stalin, Bro. Superior, Mighty Shadow, David Rudder, Mighty Gabby and Red Plastic Bag in Barbados deserve to be named to the table of doctorates, because of their noble contributions to their nations in particular, and to humanity in general. Their lives explain the meaning of the title, man. Indeed, we can say with Shakespeare: Swallow’s life ‘’was gentle and the elements so well mixed in him, that nature could stand up and say to all the world: this was a man,’’ polished, artful, refined, civilized.

David Comissiong Critiques Third World Performance

Third World Band publicly acclaim the magnificent performance of the Third World band performed "last Friday night at the Naniki Music Festival"

Third World Band publicly acclaim the magnificent performance of the Third World band performed “last Friday night at the Naniki Music Festival”


As the whole of Barbados knows, I am a passionate believer in the valuableness and beauty of our Caribbean and Pan-African Civilization: and so, when I witness or experience an exemplary manifestation of that Civilization I am obliged to publicly acknowledge it and bring it to the attention of my fellow citizens.

It is against this background therefore that I would like to publicly acclaim the magnificent performance of the Third World band last Friday night at the Naniki Music Festival, and to take issue with Ms. Natanga Smith’s review of the concert in the Sunday Sun newspaper of 15th January 2017.

From the moment Third World announced themselves on stage with the classic “Sattamasagana” — a mystical song of deep spiritual longing for and connection with the African heartland — it was clear that we, the audience, were not experiencing just another pop band , but the stellar representatives of a particular culture imbued with a particular historical and spiritual ethos. In other words, we were experiencing cultural ambassadors par excellence of our own Civilization!

And just in case some of us may have missed the point, Third World immediately followed up with their international hit song “Reggae Ambassadors“, thereby declaring to all and sundry their proud commitment to this indigenous Jamaican / Caribbean art-form, and their determination to represent this music and the culture that it derived from all over the world.

Third World then proceeded over the next two hours to hold up before our very eyes the history, beauty, and spiritual depth of our Caribbean and Pan-African Civilization. They gave us our history — the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion and the post-Emancipation struggle for Black dignity — with “96 Degrees In The Shade“; they explored our deep ancestral connection to Africa with “Kumina” and with a brilliant display of Conga drumming; they revelled in the deep rootsical spirituality of “Jah Glory”, “Dreamland” and “Irie Ites“; and they confronted us with the militant call to cultural authenticity and activism of  “Uptown Rebel“.

But that was not all! The leader of the band, Stephen “Cat” Coore, transformed us — the audience — into a choir and enjoined us to sign tributes to our heroes– Nelson Mandela, Sir Garfield Sobers, Muhammad Ali, and Bob Marley among others.

Cat also pointedly signaled to us that our sense of national and racial consciousness must remain connected to a universal appreciation of all humankind when he followed the band’s brilliant exposition of African percussion with an equally brilliant rendition– on the cello — of a composition taken from the classical European canon of Bach, before proceeding to move us deeply with his stately, profound renditions of “Rasta Man Chant”, “Rivers of Babylon” and “Redemption Song“.

How Ms. Natanga Smith could witness such a performance and characterize it with such phrases as “flat at times”, “needed to up the ting”, “there was nothing much to shout about”, and “the crowd seemed to be in a slumber”, is really beyond me. In addition, I find it unbelievable that she would consider the performance of the young Antiguan singer, Asher Otto, and her “Itchyfeet” band to have been better than Third World’s. Perhaps Ms. Smith — a native of Jamaica — was unduly motivated by a sense of false modesty in relation to this truly outstanding Jamaican band?

It is true that Ms. Otto did a relatively good job, but to compare her with Third World is really akin to the proverbial comparison between chalk and cheese.

Where all of the six members of Third World were engaged in presenting a total performance– visual and musical– Ms. Otto’s musicians exhibited very little emotion or animation on stage, and Ms Otto herself interacted minimally with her musicians and also danced minimally on stage. In other words, there was much that was lacking in the presentation of Ms Otto and her band as a performance spectacle.

Furthermore, unlike Third World, who consciously established the theme of “love” as the central motif of their performance (ending their set with “Now That We Found Love What Are We Going To Do With It?” ), there was no particular theme to Ms Otto’s performance. Nor was there much variety for that matter — it was a set of American style soft rock and R&B songs, all delivered with  similar raspy voiced vocals. And while it was clear who and what Third World represented, there was virtually nothing in Ms Otto’s performance that evoked her Antiguan homeland or even the wider Caribbean.

I am not trying to unduly knock young Asher Otto here. As stated above, she gave a very commendable performance, but the reality is that there is much she could learn from observing Third World and taking notes.

The same can be said for Barbados’ Philip Seven. He too exhibited great vocals, but his was a juke-box type performance— he merely stood on stage (or moved minimally) and sang song after song after song, reproducing the record versions of the songs as faithfully as possible, and not– among other things– permitting his musicians to stretch out and display their prowess with substantial solos.

This is a common mistake that so many of our artistes continue to make. We, the audience, do not pay good money to come and hear a juke-box! Rather, we wish to experience an entertaining multi-dimensional live performance unfold on stage.

Philip Seven also made the mistake of not adequately interacting with his musicians on stage. In fact, unlike Third World and Asher Otto, he did not even introduce the members of his band to the audience, much to the detriment of the several young musicians who were on stage with him and who need to get their names “out there”.

Again, I am not trying to unduly knock Philip Seven— in spite of the flaws that I have pointed out, the truth is that he too acquitted himself quite well. It is just that there is so much more that he could add to his performance, and I hope and trust that he too learnt something from observing the magnificent Third World.

Emancipation Dance

Submitted by Peter Thompson

Peter Lawrence Thompson

Peter Lawrence Thompson, Social Enterprise Advisor on a USAID funded project

It is August 1st, Emancipation Day across much of the formerly British Caribbean. It commemorates the Slavery Abolition Act (1833), which legislated the end of slavery in the British Empire in August, 1834. Here in Jamaica it is part of a week of parades and parties leading up to Independence Day on August 6th. In Barbados this year it coincides with the Crop Over Festival and its climax, Grand Kadooment, a day where Bajans let their hair down (not to mention much else) and party can’t done.

Read full article – Emancipation Dance

West Indian American Day Carnival Association Responds to Discrimination Charge

The Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)

The Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)

The West Indian American Day Carnival Association, Inc, has responded to concerns raised by the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy about discrimination  based on national origin  – See West Indian Day Carnival Association Accused of Discrimination.

Read full text of statement from WIADCA’s

Laff-It-Off 2012 …Some Things Never Change

Submitted by Due Diligence

Looks like some things never change.laffitoff-talkcheap


Barbadian Youth Film "PAYDAY" at London Cinema

Submitted by Sankofa Televisual

Let all your friends know that we have a RARE OPPORTUNITY to see a Bajan film let alone a Bajan youth film at a London cinema – ‪”PAYDAY‬” 15 December 2014.

We have also spoken a lot about engaging the youths with their roots back home so let us also encourage young people in the UK to experience their Caribbean heritage via the cinema screen. Flyer attached.

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Barbadian Founded Film Production Company to Premiere PAPA MACHETE at the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

Submitted by Third Horizon

Papa Machete - Sundance FIlm Still - 02MIAMI — On January 23, 2015, the short film Papa Machete will make its U.S. premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, one of the most prominent film festivals in the world. Founded in 1985 by actor Robert Redford, Sundance has launched the careers of many of Hollywood’s most acclaimed independent directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh.

Drawing on Haiti’s revolutionary history and modern struggles, the short documentary explores the mysterious martial art of tire machèt — Haitian machete fencing — through the practice of one man, an impoverished Haitian farmer named Alfred Avril.

A new trailer for the film can be viewed at the following link: https://vimeo.com/112665822

Papa Machete‘s selection by Sundance is a yet another breakthrough for the film. In September 2014, the short film world premiered at the celebrated Toronto International Film Festival.

Papa Machete is the first release from Third Horizon, a Miami-based film, music and art collaborative that aims to explore the stories and culture of the Caribbean and the so-called third world with new levels of nuance and insight. Third Horizon was recently a winner of the Knight Foundation’s prestigious Knight Arts Challenge, in support of its upcoming film, art and music festival.

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Barbadian is the Consummate Anglophile

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank and Watchdog Group

Gorg. 2014 Party Monarch winner singing Meh Rum - Click to listen

Gorg, 2014 Party Monarch winner singing Meh Rum , hugely popular but has attracted criticism in some quarters

The same way no Jews will overlook the atrocities inflicted by the Nazis, Barbadians must never overlook the significance of Emancipation Day. Indeed, for us it must be seen as even more important than the observance of political independence.” Daily Nation (Barbados) Friday August 1st. 2014

Sometimes words are just words. The editorial quoted above justifies this position. While the nation newspaper was lamenting the fact that Barbadians were generally ignoring the advent of Emancipation Day, the Barbados Today online journal, was wondering aloud, if the day really had any significance. Barbados Today predicted that unless the national conscience is lifted the celebration of the day will fade away. We concur.

It is time to call a spade a spade: Barbadians have never been pro-African and this has its historical roots in being almost ruled or enslaved exclusively by the British slave/colonial masters. To be crude, we are all Anglo Saxon, in one way or another. The powers that be, the black political managerial class, have done little to educate the citizens about slavery, emancipation and the Black struggle, to any significant degree.

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Crop Over & Carnival – What is Caribbean Culture? What Does it Mean? Where Are We Going?

Submitted by Pachamama

... festivals in the Caribbean hold any particular excitement any more...

… festivals in the Caribbean hold any particular excitement any more…

We are working with a few ideas.

The people who seem to know, like to consider a culture as the beliefs, enactments, values, mores, stories and maybe traditions of a people. We always talk about the dead-endedness of the political and economic cultures in the Caribbean but it is also difficult to measure any higher level of vibrancy in any other aspects of the general ‘culture’. This is true from Trinidad to Barbados, as we will argue, if we are permitted to use Carnival and Crop Over as metrics.

The project to create a new Caribbean identity is no more visible in Jamaica than it is in St. Lucia and it is doubtful how festivals contribute. The radio call-in programs seemed to have served their purpose of absorbing critical public expression, as a release valve, like these festivals, but not much more. The market share of church attendees maybe more and more consolidating into a business organizational revivalist camp. They take their orders from elsewhere. In all this, it is difficult to reconcile the visionary, even hopeful, articulations by eminent Caribbean statesmen/women of yesterday, people like CLR James, Lloyd Best, the Great George Lamming, William Demas, Derrick Walcott, Rex Nettleford, Michael Manley and others, with what is happening today. Thankfully, none of these could have sung the praises of the queen and accept a knighthood.

Maybe it is a function of age but none of the carnival festivals in the Caribbean hold any particular excitement any more, seem chronically staid, represent a ‘monotony of a sameness’ year after year, unable to transform themselves far less their societies, but pass for the most popular cultural expressions still. And we seem not to be able to break out of this downward spiral. Disconnected from the visions which our leading sons and daughters held for us. We can no longer see the wisdom of writing another social commentary, as a calypsonian.

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We Give You Youth Ambassador Rihanna



BU has come to the realization pop star Rihanna is a slave to publicity. To be fair to her, the line of business she has made her own requires a script to be followed to sustain success, this a business with a relatively short shelf life and making money is the name of the game.  To quote Rihanna her, she intends to raise the bar by breaking the rules.

One sure way celebrities attract publicity in this world is to bare it all, especially when the body state satisfies the stereotypical view of what is beautiful. There is a view held by many Barbadians we should not be critical of Rihanna because of her unprecedented global success. There is another view – why criticise Rihanna, she does not care or neither does it erode her success.  Theses perspectives are spurious and soaked in false logic. Barbadians on a daily basis offer critique about Presidents Obama and Bush and other non Barbadians so what is the point?

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