Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Story of Crop Over in Barbados

The History of Crop Over

Against the background of the plantain environment in Barbadian Festival Crop-Over sprang into existence.

The end of the sugar cane harvest, or Crop Over as it is almost always referred to, has long been the occasion for celebration.

Festivities sometimes varied from plantation to plantation, but the pattern was basically the same. For labourers it was a time of rejoicing; a day when the successful reaping of the crop was celebrated; a day when they could forget the vicissitudes of life and enjoy themselves.

In what seems to be the earliest reference to the Crop Over festival, we find the manager of Newton Plantation writing in 1788 to the estate's owner in England, telling him that he had held a "dinner and sober dance" for the slaves, saying: "twas a celebration of Harvest Time after the crop."

Mill Yard
Although the plantain owner hosted the Crop-Over Festival it was the labourers who arranged the programme and a varied and imaginative one it certainly was. The Festival took place in the Mill Yard and when the last canes were harvested, the procession of carts bringing in the final load signaled the beginning of the celebrations.

The first cart was usually led by a woman whose white dress was accentuated by a freshly laundered handkerchief into the folds of which was tucked a vivid flower. Following came the carts and personnel connected with the operations of the plantation from the tillage of the land to the harvesting and carting of the sugar cane.

Each cart held its final load of canes, some of which were tied with gaily coloured headkerchiefs or strips of cloth of various hues and even plantain shag (leaves) were used when the supply of the more colourful material was exhausted or unattainable. The last cart carried the effigy of "Mr. Harding." wich was created after1838 and the Abolition of Slavery.

For most people Crop Over meant not just the end of a period of hard work, but also the beginning of a period of less work and lower wages. For many the interval between two crops would indeed have been "hard times", and the symbol of these, perhaps not invented until after Emancipation, was the figure of a man stuffed with trash (the dried leaves of the sugar cane plant) dressed as he was in an old black coat, a top hat and a home-made mask.which was known as "Mr. Harding".

When the procession reached the Mill Yard, it made its way two or three times around the mill to the cheering of the participants. Women had tucked blooms into the folds of their headdresses and pinned them on to their clothing while men stuck them into their hat-bands. Some men, instead of using hats with flowers, wore home-made three-cornered head- dresses, the multi-coloured streamers of which tossed and waved in the breeze. Then the carts! Clamp-carts, drawn by teams of donkeys, mules or oxen; all were ablaze with flowering branches of flamboyant, bougainvilleas, hibiscus, oleander and sometimes plantain shag or colourful strips of old cloth.

When the procession ground to a halt, an old and respected labourer thanked the host on behalf of his companions, and after a suitable reply was made, festivities got underway in earnest. Merry-making took many forms. Eating, dancing, singing, competitions and various side attractions were the main features of the day's entertainment.
Huge estates tubs held sweet liquor or black strap. There was fancy molasses, rum and sometimes falernum. Included among the food available were rice and peas, pork or beef stew, coconut and other types of bread, salt-fish cutters, corned beef cutters and sometimes ham cutters, pudding and sousa, cassava pone and "hats" (cassava bakes).

Dancing played a very important part in the festival; some of the most popular being Joe and Johnnie, Chiggoe or Jigger foot dancer: Four Cent Fassy; Cattadonia; Grand Change; Congalala; Bluka Boot Dance; Treadmil Dance; Belly to Belly and the Four Knee Polka; Dance to the Four Points of the Mill; various set dancers; Murzurkas; Quadrilles and lastly, but by no means least, the Tilt Dance (Stilt Dance).

The above video will give you a good idea of what the the dance, stilt walking, shaggy bear and tuck band entertainment look like today

Stilt Men

Tilt-dancing took tow forms. The traditional tiltman who dressed in women's clothing and wore a mask danced to the music of his Band. The Competition Tilt Dance was performed by the younger folk who did a strip-tease down to underwear while dancing. The winner being the one who danced "the prettiest" while on stilts.

Steel Donkey

Then there was dancing with the Donkey Man. There were also two types of Donkey Men. One wore behind him a tail of old rags which shook as he gyrated using only the lower part of his body. He usually accompanied himself on the instrument of his choice.

Shaggy Bear

The other Donkey Man wore a covered frame in the shape of either a donkey, horse or mule, and in this contraption he "horse-up" to the strains of music provided by his band. Accompanied by his own band "The Bear" performed his antics. The man who played the part of the bear dressed in a crocus bag around which was wrapped yards and yards of plantain or banana shag. To this were pinned bows upon bows of red cloth or paper. As he capered people danced around him occasionally stopping to pull at his costume and run back as if in fear.

Tuck Band

Dancing was accompanied by many types of musical instruments. There were fiddles, flutes, flutinos, drums, guitars, concertinas, tamborines, mandolins, rattles made from calabashes filled with pebbles, picolas, bongos and other drums and of course the various other homemade instruments. Bands were numerous, and most unique were the Tuk of Bumbalum and the donkey Steel Band.

Singing was heard throughout the day. The labourers sang, not only because they were happy, but because they loved to sing. It was the one medium through which they could express themselves, and so besides the popular songs of the day they sang songs of their own composition - the folk songs which were spontaneous, witty and rhythmic.

For persons with a spirit of rivalry, competitions were organised, "Catching the Greased Pig" was popular. The prize being the pig. "Climbing the Greased Pole" was another, the successful climber found money on the top of it. Then there was Climbing the Greased Rope." Part of the attached to the tail-tree of the mil was greased and at the end of the rope was the prize. In addition to these was the deft and intricate art of stick-licking.

Side attractions included the "Barrel Men" and the "Hand-Walkers." The Barrel Men frolicked in barrels which had tops bottoms removed and were supported by straps slung over the wearer's shoulders while the "Hand Walkers" walked on their hands, their feet pointing skywards.

As the day's revelry drew to a close the host, and sometimes members of his family presented gifts of headkerchiefs, neckties or money. If the labourers were extra lucky they received a gift of sugar. This was known as "Bashen."

Climaxing the day's revelry, was the burning of Mr. Harding to the singing of songs such as "Hold Fast, Old Ned at the Door." Old Ned being the personification of lean and difficult days anticipated by the labourers until the coming of the next crop season. "When times get hard" and "Mr. Neel don't call nobody." Mr. Neel referred to the Manchineel Tree, the juice of which blistered anyone whom it made contact.

Food and drink consumed; Mr. Harding disposed of; the labourers jubilant, but weary straggled from the Mill Yard. The Crop-Over Festival had not only been a measure of compensation for a job well done, but it had offered an opportunity for people who had little of this world's goods to demonstrate their ingenuity and inherent creativity. Crop-Over was their moment

Even by 1940 Crop Over was being described as a "custom which has very nearly died out", and the continuing decline of sugar and the growing availability of other sources of employment had put an end to much of traditional plantation life. The modern Crop Over, revived by the Board of Tourism in 1974 and now administered by the National Cultural Foundation, pays tribute to the fact that sugar is still important in Barbados and the immense influence which it has had on our history. The present day festival is very different from the old time Crop Over, but it continues as a tradition by offering a thrilling celebration of many aspects of Bajan Culture, old and new.

 Crop Over In  Recent Years

In Barbados, Crop Over is a five-week long summer festival and it’s our most popular and colourful festival. It's origins can be traced back to the 1780's, a time when Barbados was the world's largest producer of sugar. At the end of the sugar season, there was always a huge celebration to mark the culmination of another successful sugar cane harvest; hence the festival name - Crop Over.
As the sugar industry in Barbados declined, so too did the Crop Over Festival, and in the 1940's the festival was terminated. The celebration was revived in 1974 and at that time other elements of Bajan culture were incorporated to create the spectacle that exists today…… an exciting and vibrant extravaganza of music and masquerade, history and culture.

The festival begins with the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes and the crowning of the King and Queen of the Festival - the most productive male and female cane cutters of the season.

Bridgetown Market – a street market, that consists of several stalls, which sell local food, beverages, arts and craft and music. Enjoy the Calypso music and the live Tuk-bands as you browse through the many colourful stalls.

Cohobblopot is a huge, colourful and spectacular show with the Kings and Queens of the Kadooment bands displaying their elaborate and stunning costumes. In recent years, there has also been a huge entertainment package with the most popular calypsonians and bands performing to packed audiences.

The children are not left out as they can participate in the Kiddies Kadooment, jumping and dancing in beautiful costumes, as they parade before the judges.

Folk Concerts and Art and Photographic Exhibitions are integral parts of the festival, highlighting Barbadian history and culture as well as the artistic talents of Bajans.

Calypso is one of the main features of the Crop Over Festival. The calypsonians are organised into ‘tents’. These ‘tents’, who are usually sponsored by local businesses across the island, provide a place for the public to hear most of the music released for the festival, LIVE!! During this festival, calypsonians compete for several prizes and titles, including the Peoples’ Monarch (new), Party Monarch, Road March Monarch and the Pic-O-De-Crop Monarch.

The semi-finals of the Pic-O-De-Crop competition are held at the picturesque East Coast Road, where the calypsonians perform on a stage with the Atlantic surf as the backdrop while the spectators gather in the hillsides with their picnic baskets. This magnificent spectacle should not be missed!

The finals of the Pic-O-De-Crop competition are held at the National Stadium, and this is followed by the Fore-Day Morning Jump-Up!

The grand finale is the Grand Kadooment! This carnival parade features large bands with ‘revelers’ dressed in elaborate costumes to depict various themes. Designers of these bands, compete for the coveted Designer of the Year prize while the revelers seem more intent on having a good time! The revelers make their way from the National Stadium to Spring Garden accompanied by the pulsating rhythm of calypso music. When they reach Spring Garden, the party continues with more fantastic music, lots of food and drink and, for some, a quick swim at the nearby beach. A grand end to a grand festival.

Official Crop Over Events

This is the official 2010 Crop Over Event Calendar published by the NCF. Items mark with * represent private events. Note, this calendar can change without notice. Please contact appropriate Promoters to make sure events are still on.

If you are coming for Crop Over this year do not forget to check out our special Crop Over tour

2010 Kadooment/Crop Over Event Calendar

Soca Lime (Boatyard Complex) May 7th 2010

Soca Lime (Boatyard Complex) May 14th 2010

Soca Lime (Boatyard Complex) May 21st 2010

Cavalcades (Gall Hill, St. John) May 22nd 2010

Soca Lime (Boatyard Complex) May 28th 2010

Cavalcades (Checker Hall Playing field, St. Lucy) May 29th 2010




Cavalcades (Bayley's Primary School ) June 4th 2010

Cavalcades (National Stadium, St. Michael) June 12th 2010

Arts & Craft Symposium (Grand Salle) June 16th 2010

Jr. Monarch Soca Tent #1(Solidarity House) June 20th 2010

Soca Lime (Boatyard Complex) June 25th 2010

Crop Over Farmers Market (NCF) June 26th 2010

Crop Over Thanks Giving Service (Bank Hall Nazarene Church) June 27th 2010

Jr. Monarch Soca Tent #2 (Alexandra School, St. Peter) June 27th 2010




Soca Lime (Boatyard Complex) July 2nd 2010

BNB Crop Over Gala (Queens Park) July 3rd 2010

*Soca Sunplash (Event details TBA) July 4th 2010

Central Bank Visual Arts Festival (Grand Salle) July 4th - Aug 8th 2010

Soca Lime (Boatyard Complex) July 9th 2010

Crop Over Farmers Market (NCF) July 10th 2010

Scotia Bank Jr. Monarch Semis

(Sherbourne Conference Centre) July 11th 2010

*Wet Fete (BTA Car park City ) Sunday July 11th 2010

Jr. Monarch Sunset Concert (Solidarity House) July 15th 2010

BTI Steel Pan Concert (Dover) July 15th 2010

BTI Steel Pan Concert (Speightstown, St. Peter) July 16th 2010

Soca Lime (Boatyard Complex) July 16th 2010

Pan In De City (Independence Square) July 17th 2010

*Soca on De Hill (Farley Hill National Park) Sun, July 18th 2010

Pan Pun De Sand (Brandons) July 18th 2010

Jr. Monarch Lunch Time Concert (Frank Collymore Hall) July 21st 2010

Crop Over Read In (B'dos Museum) July 22nd 2010

Pic-O-De Crop Semi-Finals (National Stadium) July 23rd 2010
Jr. Kadooment & Scotia Bank Jr. Monarch Finals
(National stadium) Sat, July 24 2010

Soca Royale (Bushy Park, St. Philip) July 25th 2010

Laff-it-Off (Sherbourne Conference Centre) July 28th 2010

Laff-it-Off (Sherbourne Conference Centre) July 29th 2010

Bridgetown Market (Spring Garden Highway) July 29th - August 2nd 2010
Pic-O-De Crop Finals (Kensington Oval) Fri, July 30th 2010

Laff-it-Off (Sherbourne Conference Centre) July 31st 2010

Fore-day-Morning Jam (Harbor Road) July 31st 2010

Sun Rise Beach Party (Brandons Beach) July 31st 2010

*10 to 10 (Insomnia) Saturday July 31st 2010



Cohobblopot ( Kensington Oval) Sun, Aug 01 2010

Grand Kadooment (Carnival Monday – Stadium – Spring Garden) Mon, Aug 02

Provided with the compliments of your friends at Glory Tours. The #1 Provider of Sightseeing Tours in Barbados http://glorytours.org/

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Barbados Crop Over: Burning Mr Harding

Burning Mr. Harding

As Crop Over approaches I have been looking for inspiration to write a Crop Over Blog. Today I found such inspiration in a refreshed memory of Burning Mr. Harding.

As a young child I  gathered with my siblings and cousins on Brighton Beach where my uncle lived to watch Harding burn. We did not know what it meant but we knew it happened every year at the end of the Crop Over festivities. To our young minds it was an exciting thing to see this tall figure set ablaze.

To be honest it is only today I have learnt the meaning behind burning Mr. Harding. In an era that is long  gone Barbadians were greatly deepened on the sugar crop for their livelyhood. The crop over season was the first 4 months of the year. The end of the season was observed on plantations by Crop Over festivities that I will discuss further in post that will follow this one.

Crop Over is a Barbadian Folk Festival which evolved out of the harvest festivals of two cultures, England and West Af rica. This colourful national celebration is also one the Western world's oldest festivals, dating back to the 1780s' when plantation workers proclaimed the end of the sugar crop with feasting and dancing in the plantation yards. At that time the end of the crop and grueling field-work was cause for celebration. It was a plantation event marked by the arrival of the last cart of canes and punctuated by a day of dancing and frolic. As the last procession of decorated carts made their way into the mill yard, a labourer would beat a make shift gong announcing the "Crop Over."

The very last cart carried "Mr Harding" an effigy made of cane trash stuffed into an old pair of trousers and coat, with a top hat on its head. Mr. Harding symbolized that period between sugar crops, when employment was difficult to obtain and money was scarce. This time was referred to as "Hard Time" so that the crop time and the hard time divided the Barbadian year.

In 1974 when Crop Over was revived and adopted by the Board of Tourism as a national festival, the "burning of  Mr. Harding" was included. But as the result of an element of lawlessness that marred this event in 1979, the ritual was discontinued. 

The "Mighty Gabby"  a well known Barbadian Calypsonian won the first ever Crop-Over road march title in 1979 with "Burn Mr. Harding"

Provided with the compliments of your friends at Glory Tours. The #1 Provider of Sightseeing Tours in Barbados http://glorytours.org/

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Barbados Apprentership System, Located Labour and the New Middle Class

The Emancipation Act was passed on August 28th 18 a month after William Wilberforce died. It became effective on the 1st of August 1834.

To ensure the act was carried out one Governor General was placed over Barbados, St Vincent, Grenada, and Tobago. Governor Lionel Smith was stationed in Barbados while Lieutenant governors were placed in the other Islands.

On the abolition of slavery several provisions were made to ease the process for both the planter and the slave. However as you will see they mostly benefited the planter.

1. The British Government paid the Barbadian planters sum of over £1,700,000 combined.

2. Children where given their immediate freedom.

3. Full freedom was not to be issued for 6 years. In this time a period of Apprenticeship was to be in place. This was supposed to (1) Provide a peaceful transition from slavery to freedom. (2) Guarantee the planters a supply of labour for this period (3)To train apprenticeships to be responsible citizens

4. The working week was set at 45 hours and Sunday labour was abolished

5. Wages were to be paid for hours worked over 40hours and apprentices could buy purchase their complete freedom before the end of the apprenticeship period.

6. Special Magistrates where put in place and paid by the British Government to ensure these provisions where properly observed.

7. Allowances formerly ranted to slaves were to be continued.

The apprenticeship system was strictly administered from the onset in Barbados. Neither side was happy with the terms and it caused considerable strife and before long it was generally admitted that the apprenticeship system was a failure. It was at this time that the Solicitor General Robert Bowcher Clarke suggested that the house should without delay provide complete emancipation of the salves and this was so done on the 1st of Aughust 1838.

Located Labour

Under the located labour system people were paid 9d and allowed cottage and grounds. If the labourers did not perform satisfactorily they could be ejected from all their allotments. The planters had to give 4 weeks notice and the crops of the tenants was taken over at a value bellow their worth. if the tenant gave notice their growing crops where taken over without payment.

The iniquities of the system were criticized by the Liberal a newspaper edited by Smauel Jackman Prescod. Despite the Masters and servants act of the time repealed the Labour System remained in place.

Chattel Houses

Another feature of this time is the Chattel House. In most cases the land the the emancipated slaves lived on was not their own and as stated they often moved in search of kinder employers or higher wages. Therefore the tradition evolved of building homes in a manner by which they could be dismantled, transported by simple conveyance (originally, horse-drawn carts), and reassembled at a different site.

These early homes were rarely larger than one or two rooms, though some expanded to varying degrees as the needs and sizes of families grew.

Typical features:

Symmetrical fronts with centered door and 2 windows.
Expanded in modules as family growth or other needs required.
Many with steep-pitched, metal roofs shaped to resist blowing off in high winds and small ventilation windows below them.
The hoses were not built on foundations but placed on the tops of piled up stones.

New Villages

Though the freed slaves were allowed to purchase land in Barbados it was a difficult thing to do. There were few if any arable lands available. It is true that 2 years after emancipation  there were some 1,000 smallholders but these were mostly made up by poor whites  and slaves who had been freed before emancipation. Land was hard to come by as plantation owners were not ready to sell. they did not want to split up their land into small plots and they did not want to loose the monopoly that gave them control over labour. The first breakthrough came when Mr R Elcock bequested that the people would be able to purchase small lots of land at Mount Wilton Plantation this lead to the formation of rock Hall Village the first free village. Followed by Elcock was Mr. P Chapman who divided his estate in Enterprise St George into 2 acre lots  and this saw the establishment of Workmans in St George.

The New Middle Class

Following emancipation planters and labourers had quite a social adjustment to make as their relationship changed from Master and slave to Employee to employer. This was a long and arduous process. The labourers were faced with strong discrimination. The church of England was also responsible for some of discrimination as the labourers were not allowed to be seated in certain seats. They could not have communion at the same time as white members and they could not hold ministerial positions. Coloured teachers received smaller salaries and could only teach coloured children. They were required to serve with the malita but there units were segregated from the whites and they could not be promoted to higher positions. They were not allowed to vote until 1831 when a law was passed allowing free coulerd people to vote as long as they owned enough land.

Surprisingly many of the free coloured people  were indifferent or opposed to emancipation for their brothers who were still enslaved. They were at the time concerned that  emancipation would negatively affect their growth and position that they had fought hard to establish. There response however after emancipation was very supportive and they took the newly freed slaves under their wing and taught them their habits lifestyle and philosophy. That was the great contribution they made to the stability and progress of the whole island.

A notable event of the time was the formation of "the Times the first coloured newspaper followed by the Liberal. which Smauel Jackman Prescod. edited for 25 years.In 1843 Prescod was elected the first coloured man to the House of Assembly and the was quickly followed by Prescod becoming the leader of the Liberal Party which was formed by the "Ten Acre" men. The Liberal party sought to change the legislature in the Island to benefit the society as a whole, a society and legislature that had for centuries solely benefited the planter class. The policy of the middle class now composed for black, white and coloured and people gave the island a measure of stability for the next 40 years.

Grave Challenges

There came a period of time in Barbados when the planters were almost overcome in gloom. The Sugar Duties Act of 1846 that reduced the duties on colonial sugar exposed the West indies to serious competition from places like Cuba and Louisiana which still enforced slavery, produced greater amounts of sugar and possessed modern equipment that helped them in the production. Bankruptcy faced the planters and they could not have survived but for a number of events.

1.   The increase in production of sugar in other parts of the world was offset by the increased demand

2.   Barbadian planters reduced labour cost by decreasing the number of persons employees during off season. This lead to the creation of  Burning Mr. Harding in the Crop Over Festivities

3.   They planted increased acreages in canes and doubled their sugar production between 188 and 1852 and improved their methods of cultivation.

The perusal of the agricultural system, their skills and method enabled them to survive a time when bankruptcy was bringing ruin to planters in many other West Indian Islands. It is said than many believed that Emancipation would mean the end of the Golden Era in Barbados and while it is true they faced many challenges they responded to them with courage and determination and rose to the occasion and the Golden Era continued well past emancipation.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jewish History of Barbados. The Nidhe Israel Synagogue & Cemetery

The year 1992 marked the 500th anniversary of the Second Diaspora, when the Jews were expelled from Spain and re-settled throughout the world. The New World offered an opportunity for many Jews to settle in a new land, where they hoped to escape the persecution they had been subjected to in Europe. In turn, the Jews of the Caribbean contributed  to the growth of that region and to the settlement of Jews in the United States.

When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, many fled over the border to Portugal. But in 1497 the Portuguese government banished Jews from that country as well. Many of the Jews fled to other more hospitable European countries, such as Holland, but some sailed to Brazil to start over in this Portuguese territory. They set up trade routes between Portugal and its colony, started farming, and became wealthy plantation owners. With the Inquisition still in effect, they were forbidden to practice Judaism but set up secret societies so they could continue their faith.

Back in Portugal, authorities were separating the children of remaining Jews from their parents and sending them to Brazil to be raised as Catholics. The crypto-Jews already in Brazil used their secret groups to teach these children about their true heritage thereby sustaining the Jewish faith in Brazil. During the time the Jews were creating their large plantations in Brazil, they provided their most lasting benefit to the Caribbean economy. Sugar cane was imported from Madeira in Portugal, and it became the basic foundation of the entire Caribbean economy until the 18th century. Sugar cane could be easily grown in the hot climates of South America and the Caribbean, then converted to sugar to be shipped to Europe.

Spain dominated most of Europe, including Holland, during the 16th century. Holland finally won its independence in 1581. After years under the control of the Catholic Hapsburgs, the new Dutch government established religious tolerance as one of its primary goals.
Holland was a burgeoning rival to Spain and Portugal and was hoping to gain from their misfortunes. The Dutch hoped to capture for themselves some of the Portuguese and Spanish territories in the New World. In the 1630's, the Hollanders sailed into the harbor of Recife, in the northeast corner of  Brazil, conquered the region, and claimed it for The Netherlands. They had the help of many of the secret Jewish settlers living in Brazil. Since the Jews had been persecuted by the Portuguese, their sympathies lay with the more tolerant Dutch.

A sizable Jewish community in Amsterdam had grown when Jews started arriving from Spain in 1492. When the Dutch wanted to send settlers to colonize their new territory in Brazil, a group of 600 of the Amsterdam Jews sailed for Brazil. By 1642, the "Holy Congregation", as they called themselves, numbered between three and four thousand. They prospered in their traditional  occupations as traders and merchants, but also became successful farmers and plantation owners. Under the Portuguese, Jews had been forced to pretend they were Catholic. When the Dutch came to power, Jews were no longer required to worship in secret communities, but instead were allowed to freely celebrate their religion.

In 1654, the Portuguese sent a fleet to reconquer their lost Brazilian territory. The siege lasted ten years. The Jews fought on the side of the Dutch while the Portuguese, who still lived there, and native Brazilian Indians sided with the Portuguese. Peace was finally declared in 1664. The Portuguese conducted an Inquisition similar to that of Spain: if a citizen wouldn't profess to being a Catholic, he was branded a heretic and expelled or killed. During the reign of the Dutch the Jews had openly celebrated their religion, and now they couldn't go back to their hidden societies. The Portuguese provided sixteen ships to remove the Jews from Brazil. Once again, Jews had to leave their homes, businesses, and properties behind to search for a
haven where they would find freedom from religious persecution and the simple chance to earn a living.

Many of the Jews who left Brazil returned to Amsterdam, including Isaac Aboab de Fonseca, the first American rabbi, and Moses de Aguilar, the first American cantor (Kishor 14-15). The rest of the Jews who left Brazil settled on the nearby islands of the Caribbean; one boatload even made it as far as New Amsterdam (New York).

In 1654, the chief British colonies were Surinam, Barbados, Jamaica, and the Leeward Islands. The British government actively promoted the settlement of Jews in their territories; Jews were reputed to be industrious, good businessmen, and generally model citizens. The British merchants, on the other hand, did not like the Jews, and accused them of unfair trade competition. The history of the British colonies is full of attempts by these merchants to limit the extent of Jewish trading and restrict their business.

Jews are believed to have been established in Barbados as early as 1628. In 1661, three Jewish businessmen requested permission to institute trade routes between Barbados and Surinam, which was still part of the British Empire. As will be seen repeatedly, even though the Jews had full legal citizenship and were allowed by the government to trade and conduct business, their success caused the other settlers to try to limit the scope of Jewish trade. British businessmen claimed the Jews traded more with the

Dutch than the British, and the government did finally put limits on the Jews' ability to trade. They were not allowed to purchase slaves, and were required to live in a Jewish ghetto. By 1802, the colonial government in Barbados had removed all discriminatory regulations from the Jews living there. A Jewish community remained on Barbados until 1831, when a hurricane destroyed all of the towns on the island.

A synagogue for Sephardis, the Jews of Spanish or Portuguese descent, had been established in Barbados in the 1650's. The settlers named this first Barbados synagogue Nidhe Israel, "The Dispersed Ones of Israel". The original Barbados synagogue building is still standing but no longer serves as a place of worship. The attached cemetery is in disrepair but the inscriptions on the headstones were copied and have been saved. They provide important historical and genealogical data for researchers. The Jewish cemetery on Barbados is believed to be the oldest Jewish graveyard in the Western Hemisphere with citations dating back to the 1660's. Graves of several famous people are there, including Samuel Hart, son of the American Moses Hart, and Mosseh Haym Nahamyas (Moses Nehemiah), who died on Barbados in 1672 and was the first Jew to live in Virginia (AJA 18).

The history of Jews in the Caribbean is one that is not well known. Their place gets lost in more colorful tales of Spanish conquistadors, cutthroat pirates, and continual battles between the European powers over territory. But their importance cannot be underestimated. A Jew introduced sugar cane to the Caribbean; this crop was the mainstay of the economy for several hundred years.

Jews started trade routes between the islands and their mother countries. As we have seen, the Caribbean Jewish merchants were so successful that the other businessmen often persuaded their governments to tax or restrict Jewish trade.

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS W.I. 1654 Old Synagogue & Cemetery

The old synagogue, located about 200 yards from Broad Street, the main shopping street in Bridgetown, had its origins soon after the first British settlement in 1627 with the exodus of Jews from Recife, Brazil in 1654. A group of those who had fled Recife for Amsterdam, upon learning that Oliver Cromwell had opened British domains to Jews, applied for and secured permission to settle in Barbados. Among them were members of the de Mercado family. Aaron de Mercado died in 1660 and became the second Jew known to have been buried in Barbados. The prime organiser of the congregation Nidhe Israel (The scattered of Israel) was a Recife Jew, Lewis Dias, alias Joseph Jesurum Mendes and the earliest reference to the synagogue is found in a deed of conveyance of land adjoining, the Jewish property dated September 1661, and vestry minutes of that period also date the old synagogue to the late 1660’s. Public worship for Jews in Barbados came in 1654, three years ahead of London.

The old synagogue in Barbados can boast of being one of the two oldest synagogue in the Western hemisphere and similar in age to the synagogue in Curaçao which has become a landmark of that Island. (Of interest, two Barbadian Jews established the beginning of a Jewish community in Rhode Island, USA in 1677 and it was another Barbadian Jew who was responsible in 1682 for purchasing the plot of land that is today the oldest surviving Jewish graveyard in North America, at Chatham Square, New York)
The hurricane of 1831 destroyed most of our original synagogue and on 29 March 1833, the present building was dedicated, constructed at a cost of 4000 L. The moving spirit behind the rebuilding was Dr Hart-Lyon, a jeweller who together with ninety other influential Jews, raised the necessary funds.

A fall In sugar prices led to emigration of most of the Jewish community from Barbados and by 1900 only seventeen Jews remained. The synagogue was sold in 1929 by private treaty with only one Jew remaining.

 In 1931, after returning from a business trip to Colombia and Venezuela, the trader Moses Altman decided to relocate his wife and five children from Lublin, Poland to Bridgetown, Barbados. The Islnd was along the trade route between Europe and South America and it also presented an opportunity for him to acquire a valuable British passport; it was a welcoming place for Jews. By 1946, about forty members of the family and friends had settled on the island.

The Altmans soon discovered that the welcoming spirit was due in part to the fact that a significant number of the island’s non-Jews, both white and black, with names like Mendoza and Da Costa, felt a strong affinity with their Sephardic ancestors who in the nineteenth century had converted to Christianity and assimilated. Some still preserved a tallit (prayer shawl) or siddur (prayer book) that had been passed down to them.
Without a synagogue, the Ashkenazic settlers worshiped in a back room of Moses Altman’s home. Eventually the community bought a property and converted it into a house of prayer.

The Altmans prospered on Barbados, first in retail and later in the real estate business, but made no effort to gain possession of Nidhe Israel until 1980, when the government announced its plans to demolish the former synagogue and clear part of the graveyard to erect a new Supreme Court building. Paul Altman’s father, Henry, became very agitated at the news, especially because his father, Moses, lay buried in that cemetery. Stirred into action, the Altmans initiated an international letter-writing campaign aimed at pressuring the Barbadian government to spare the synagogue and cemetery. Prime Minister Tom Adams agreed to meet with Paul Altman.  Mr Altman ahowed the Prime Minister  pictures of the interior and exterior of the synagogue in 1928 that he'd found in the Shilstone Library at the Barbados Museum. After studying the photos, the prime minister agrred that if he could find the money to restore this building to its former state as a synagogue, the government would hand it over to him.Within a matter of months we raised the funds, and the prime minister honored his promise.

Altman’s next challenge was to find a way to translate Shilstone’s photographs and sketches into a workable blueprint for the reconstruction of the synagogue. First, though, he inspected the building, now a warehouse, for signs of its former sacred incarnation. The warehouse owner cleaned some grime from the floor, revealing the black-and-white marble tiles that had been installed when the sanctuary was rededicated in 1833, after it was severely damaged by a hurricane.

As treasurer of the Barbados National Trust, Altman had heard about a program at the University of Florida dedicated to preserving the architecture of the Caribbean. He contacted the school, and the professor in charge sent a graduate student to Bridge­town. Together the student and a local architect drew up plans for the restoration based on Shilstone’s 1920s photographs of the synagogue.

Meanwhile, Altman concentrated on the interior, hoping to restore the original furnishings. He petitioned the Spanish-Portuguese synagogue in London for a list of ritual objects and other artifacts that had been sent there in 1928 for safekeeping, but to this day, he says, the officials have never given him an account, even of the Torahs. A Bevis Marks representative explained that they could not help you because he was Ashkenazic and we are Sephardic, and it’s not the same community. A decade later, the synagogue leaders learned that we were restoring the old Sephardic cemetery, then they were willing to contribute.
Altman also struggled to recover the synagogue’s eight brass chandeliers, which he traced to the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, Copies now hang in Nidhe Israel the originals remain in the Winterthur.

Altman had greater success in retrieving the mahogany representation of the Ten Commandments which had hung over the Torah ark. Lady Stella St. John, wife of the prime minister, had displayed the tablets above the swimming pool of Ilaro Court, their official residence, and graciously donated them back to the synagogue. As the Torah ark and reader’s desk no longer existed, Altman commissioned a woodworker to refabricate them in Barbados mahogany.

It took four years to complete the restoration of the synagogue at a cost of more than one million U.S. dollars. In 1987, government officials joined 300 Jewish delegates from India, Canada, Great Britain, and throughout the British Commonwealth at the re dedication ceremony of Nidhe Israel.

Restoring the overgrown cemetery proved the most challenging of all. Several attempts were made to restore it and at one time on bad advice some of the tombstones were moved and they lost track of their original locations, causing serious chaos. Then, in the 1990s, Evan Milner, an archaeologist specializing in restoring gravestones (and a member of Bevis Marks), volunteered to work with us. Guided by the burial records archived at the London Spanish-Portuguese synagogue and Shilstone’s work, Milner spent three years determining the exact locations of the stones, repairing them with old bricks and lime mortar, and mounting them on new cement foundations.

In 2005, the Jewish community of Barbados initiated another ambitious project—the construction of a museum in the abandoned school building on Synagogue Lane at the edge of the cemetery.
The floor of the museum is designed to appear as an extension of the cemetery: recessed into the floor are glass display cases in the size and shape of the gravestones, filled with sand and embedded with excavated artifacts. The Sephardic founders, many of them formerly secret Jews, had covered the floors of their synagogue with sand supposedly to muffle the sounds of the prayers and thus avoid attracting the attention of Inquisition informers. A screening room features oral histories, and a modern interactive display highlights the 350-year history of the Barbados Jewish community.

The museum’s collection of artifacts used by the Sephardic settlers grew after an unexpected discovery beneath the synagogue parking lot. A few years earlier, about the same time as the cemetery reconstruction workers were instructed to dig a foot-deep trench in a section of the parking lot which Shilstone had labeled ‘rabbi’s house.’ They found outlines of some brick walls in a strange configuration, but they didn’t have the time, energy, or knowledge to do more than confirm that something was there. So they back filled the area and continued to use it for parking.

Altman described the outline of walls to University of West Indies professor Karl Watson, a non-Jew who was writing a history of the Jewish community of Barbados. Watson later proposed that one of his doctoral students, archaeologist Michael Stoner, excavate the site as the subject of his dissertation. Altman agreed to fund the dig, and Stoner moved into an apartment on the second floor of the new Jewish museum.

In April 2008, Stoner, also a non-Jew, uncovered a series of steps leading down to an elevator-sized chamber half filled with water. As he pondered his discovery, an Israeli tourist passed by. “That’s a mikveh!” he told Stoner. The young archaeologist had unearthed a mikveh (or a baño, as the Sephardim called it) dating to the mid-seventeenth century. What Shilstone had assumed was the rabbi’s house was in fact the bañadeira, the building housing the congregation’s ritual bath.

Altman doesn’t expect that the spring-fed mikveh will be restored for ritual use. The current plan is to maintain the archaeological site as an added point of interest for museum visitors.

Provided with the compliments of your friends at Glory Tours. The #1 Provider of Sightseeing Tours in Barbados http://glorytours.org/

Monday, June 21, 2010

Glory Tours written about in CARIBPRESS

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Mrs Samantha Ofole-Prince on her visit to Barbados. She is a writer and wrote the bellow article which was published in CARIBPRESS.

I have posted images bellow from it but for easier reading I recommend you visit the following link. http://www.caribpress.com/2010/06/18/barbados-gem-of-the-caribbean/

I hope all of you enjoy it as much as I have :o)

Provided with the compliments of your friends at Glory Tours. The #1 Provider of Sightseeing Tours in Barbados http://glorytours.org/

Barbados National Hero Clement Osbourne Payne



Biographical Information

"Educate, agitate, but do not violate!"

For most of his life Clement Osbourne Payne conveyed the powerful message of this slogan as he tirelessly advocated the economic wants and political needs of working people in the West Indies. Whether in Trinidad, the land of his birth, or Barbados, his parents' homeland, he sought to educate the masses about their lot in life and urged that they transform themselves into a militant community of workers.

He is best remembered for four momentous months in 1937 when he struggled to help the poor working population of Barbados to see the importance of coming together to resist the elite white planter class. He held several public meetings in the City and its environs, denouncing the deplorable conditions under which ordinary people were forced to live.

Payne is regarded by some as an apostle of Barbadian trade unionism.

He launched a campaign to educate and stimulate the masses, delivering powerful, fiery speeches to audiences who responded with great enthusiasm. The Constabulary in Bridgetown saw Payne as a possible threat and from that very first meeting in the City he was under police observation "each moment of the day and night".

But that close surveillance did not deter Payne. Instead, he ensured that themes brought into the public domain during those meetings were highlighted. When the labour disturbances started in Trinidad in June 1937, he held a meeting in Golden Square to inform the working class about developments there, even though the police did their best to prevent it.

By that time, the workers here were serious about organising themselves and a resolution was passed to form the Barbados Progressive Working Men's Association. This attempt ended in failure.

On Thursday, July 22, Payne was presented with a summons to appear before the City Magistrate to answer a charge of willfully making a false statement to the Harbour Authorities concerning his place of birth. On arrival in the island, he had declared that he was born in Barbados rather than Trinidad.

He pleaded not guilty and the case was adjourned, but when it resumed he did not have legal representation and pleaded his own case. He was found guilty and ordered to pay 10 pounds forthwith or spend three months in prison. However, he appealed against this decision and received support, moral and financial, from the working class, much to the dismay of the planter-merchant oligarchy and the police.

He also held a meeting that night (July 22) which he described as "a historical one from many angles" in his book , "My Political Memoirs of Barbados". People from every stratum of society attended, and this, he said, "was a strange significance in Barbados".

He spoke of his conviction and Government's ulterior motive, and revealed his intention to go to Government House for an audience with the Governor.

Singing hymns and popular anthems, Payne and about 300 workers marched that morning to the Governor's residence. Shortly after arrival, he and 13 supporters were arrested and later charged for refusing to disperse as an assembled mob when told to do so by police. But although they all pleaded not guilty and the others were granted bail, Payne was remanded in custody.

While he was in custody, his "lieutenants" held meetings to sensitise workers to the situation. He won the appeal on July 26 against conviction for making a false declaration on his arrival in Barbados, but the expulsion order remained.

The charge was later withdrawn and the authorities attempted to serve him with an expulsion order. This prompted his supporters to hire a young lawyer, Grantley Adams, to represent him . Recognising the power of the authorities and the possible physical danger to his client, Adams advised Payne to accept service of the expulsion order.

Before his dream was realised Payne was expelled from Barbados, but he had sown the seeds of discontent which flourished and bore fruit on July 26, 1937, the night he was forced out of this country, never to be allowed entry again. It was the action of the local authorities to deport Payne, and Governor Mark Young's decision to uphold the expulsion.

He was deported that same night.

As news about the deportation spread, his supporters around the island forgot his slogan of non-violence and "exploded in violent, revolutionary upheaval" in some City streets. Armed with sticks and stones, they went along Chamberlain Bridge, Trafalgar Square to Broad Street and the commercial district damaging show windows of businesses, smashing cars on nearby streets and even pushing some into the sea.

The violence continued for four days in various parts of the island, leaving 14 people dead, 47 wounded, 500 arrested and millions of dollars in property damaged.

It is generally agreed by historians that Barbados was never the same gain. The disturbances forced the relevant authorities to recognise the need for social reform, the alternative being that the workers would do it in a way the oligarchy would never approve.

Such was the effectiveness of Payne's words and actions that the British Government appointed a Commission of Inquiry (The Moyne Commission), to investigate the situation in Barbados and other British West Indies colonies.

This signalled what was arguably Payne's most significant achievement, for the Moyne Commission determined that all of his charges against the island's rulers were accurate and in its report, insisted on reforms which he had proposed, the chief of which was introduction of trade unionism legislation.

Payne collapsed on April 7, 1941, while addressing a political meeting in Trinidad and died shortly afterwards.

The Clement Payne Cultural Centre was formed in Barbados in 1989 to perpetuate his memory and to continue his work of enlightening Barbadians about their history and struggle.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Barbados National Hero Charles Duncan O'Neal



Biographical Information

The way for social transformation of Barbados in the early 20th Century was prepared largely by Charles Duncan O'Neal, and this he did contrary to accepted norms, for he held high social and professional status.

Although a medical doctor and especially a member of the privileged class, he dedicated most of his working life to the poor. He agitated against deep-seated racism of the 1920s and 1930s which the planter class perpetrated against Blacks in education, religion, at the work place and in housing.

O'Neal is also credited with being the first politician in Barbados to campaign for improved conditions for women in the workplace, and the fact that women held leadership positions in the Democratic League and the Working Men's Association.

Historian Sir Alexander Hoyos has shown that "Adams' purpose after 1934 was to revive the political movement among the masses which

O'Neal had started". It could be said that O'Neal laid the foundation of social reform on which Sir Grantley Adams built so impresively after 1938.

In translating his vision for this island, O'Neal can count among his main achievements the creation of a network of grass-root organisations - the Democratic League which was a quasi-political group; the setting up of a proto-union - the Working Men's Association in 1926, and the launching of a co-operative venture in Bridgetown. He invested in a newspaper, "The Herald", which sounded the message of reform, enfranchisement and social change.

His work is particularly significant because it was the first time in the island's history that a man of O'Neal's class, who had a university education and was an independent professional, put his reputation on the line by aligning himself with the down-trodden.

Born in 1879 to Joseph and Catherine O'Neal he attended Trents Primary, the Parry School and went on to Harrison College, placing second in the examination for the Barbados Scholarship in 1899. His father sent him to Edinburgh University in Scotland to study medicine and he gained distinctions in almost all the academic areas and a Blue Ribbon in surgery.

It was there that he became a friend of Keir Hardie of the Independent Labour Party and his interest in politics grew.

O'Neal took the decision to run for a local government office and won a seat on the Sunderland County Council. At that time he was practising in the North England City of Newcastle. However, he had an over-riding desire to return home and spread the socialist doctrine to fellow citizens.

He came back to Barbados in 1910 and found the conditions so depressing that he went to Trinidad and Dominica to live and work.

But the desire to serve Barbados compelled him to come home after 14 years and light a match under the authorities, forcing them to pay attention to the social ills of that day.

O'Neal founded the Democratic League in October 1924 and it won its first significant victory two months later when C.A. "Chrissie" Brathwaite was elected as a representative for St. Michael in the House of Assembly.

The League's programme was based on the principles of socialism and it attracted membership among the coloured and black middle classes.

The importance of educating ordinary people about politics also occupied O'Neal's time and energies to such an extent that he sparked their interest and some entered the political arena. He was the first black activist in this century to agitate for free education and free dental care for children; improved housing; and abolition of the infamous Located Labourers' System and the Masters and Servants Act. In addition, he campaigned although unsuccessfully for the introduction of Universal Adult Suffrage.

In 1932, O'Neal finally won a seat in the House of Assembly as a Member for Bridgetown, defeating the prominent merchant H.B.G. Austin by one vote.

In Parliament, he continued his fight to improve the plight of the workers, was instrumental in securing an increased grant for the Barbados Scholarship winners, and campaigned for abolishing the despicable and degrading practice of child labour.

As might be expected, O'Neal was feared and even hated by his adversaries. However, when this outstandingly courageous Barbadian died on November 19, 1936, he left almost the entire community, including his foes, to acknowledge that he had played an exceptional role in arousing the political consciousness of the masses in the period leading up to the Disturbances of 1937.

Principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, Sir Keith Hunte, summed up O'Neal's life in the observation that he advocated a political creed based on "the simple, plain, direct principles laid down by Christ which emphasised the honouring of social obligations among members of the human society, while recognising that everyone was equal".

As testimony to the high regard in which he continues to be held, O'Neal's portrait appears on the $10 note while the Charles Duncan O'Neal Bridge in Bridgetown bears his name.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Barbados National Hero Samuel Jackman Prescod



Biographical Information
He has been described by some as the "greatest Barbadian of all time" and the "saviour of his country", but though for others he shares these credits with a small number of patriots, it was doubtless Samuel Jackman Prescod's mission to improve the conditions of the Free Coloured people as well as to fight for liberating the slaves.

Prescod abhorred the treatment meted out to Coloureds and Blacks by the planter class and that dehumanising and debilitating institution known as slavery. From an early age, he set about trying to unite the masses, Coloureds, Blacks and Poor Whites, into a coalition of the oppressed and to agitate for their enfranchisement.

According to one historian, he fought for all the things he believed in, and people's love for him grew when they realised he was prepared to denounce abuses and support reforms that affected all classes in the community. As a result, the masses put their faith in him and Prescod skillfully used his influence to build up a political organisation - "The Liberal Party" - which fought for social justice for over 25 years.

However, it could probably be argued that Prescod had his greatest impact on people through the printed page. Recognising the power of the pen, he used the newspapers, of which he was editor, to write scathing articles accusing the planters of pursuing policies which suppressed Blacks and so made freedom unimportant.

Through this forum, he also provided free discussion on all topics relating to the labouring population and he tried to unite the Free Coloured, the apprenticed workers and the Poor Whites against the powerful plantocracy.

Among Prescod's early successes was the admission of Free Coloured people to vote in 1831 and from as early as 1839 he recommended that Universal Adult Suffrage be made law, but this proposal was ridiculed by the oligarchy in Parliament.

In the period of limited franchise, he was elected on June 6, 1843, as one of two members for the newest constituency, the City of Bridgetown, thus becoming the first non-White to sit in the House of Assembly. Later, he became the leader of a small group of white members in the House, who agreed with his policies. This was the Liberal Party which functioned as an unofficial "Opposition" for over 20 years.

Born out of wedlock in 1806 to Lydia Smith, a Free Coloured woman, and William Prescod, a wealthy landowner, he was named after Samuel Jackman, a rich white planter in St. Peter. He attended St. Mary's School and was later apprenticed as a joiner.

In this period Barbados was very much "heaven" for the elite Whites, "hell" for Blacks and "purgatory" for Free Coloureds. In this social environment, men of Prescod's complexion suffered humiliations and were relegated to menial positions in every sphere of life.

Fortunately, however, he had no intention of spending his life as a second-class citizen. He therefore "retired to a life of study and contemplation", preparing himself for the struggle against injustice.

His campaign for the enfranchisement of Free Coloureds started in 1829. It gained impetus because he chided them for being too complacent and not going far enough in their demands. When this group started the "New Times" newspaper in March, 1836, Prescod was given the onerous task of editing the publication.

However, after only eight months he relinquished the post because he felt the promise he had been given for full editorial control had been broken. He later joined "The Liberal" newspaper, which was founded by the Poor Whites, and spent 25 years educating the masses through its pages.

So strong was Prescod's belief that this channel of communication should remain open, that when "The Liberal" ran into financial problems a few months after being launched, he and Thomas Harris bought it. He was given a free hand by Harris to continue defending the rights of Blacks and it was probably not surprising that in 1840 he was charged with criminal libel and jailed for eight days.

Prescod's radical newspaper earned him a reputation of being a "counsellor", "adviser", "poisonous revolutionary", "trouble maker", and "enemy of the established order". One thing is certain: He made people think. In fact, historians argue that he was more effective as a journalist than as a Member of the House of Assembly.

Even during the apprenticeship system, 1834-1838, Prescod demonstrated his interest in the development of Blacks and his educational programmes focussed on helping them to know their rights so they could "challenge the plantocracy".

The effort gained him widespread support and respect and he consistently agitated for the establishment of primary, secondary and tertiary education facilities for the children of ex-slaves.

Prescod's courageous feats continued in the House of Assembly for nearly 20 years. He vehemently opposed class legislation and constantly defended the welfare of the underprivileged. He was also instrumental in getting the Secretary of State to decide that certain clauses in the Police Act be reconsidered and readjusted, because he felt they had sought to "maintain unjust distinctions between white and coloured people".

In 1860 he retired from Parliament and later accepted the office of Judge of the Assistant Court of Appeal.

Prescod died on September 26, 1871, at the age of 65 and was buried in St. Mary's Church yard. The "Barbados Times" newspaper, describing him as "the great tribune of the people", said he had not been induced to "swerve one jot or title from his allegiance to the cause of right and justice".

The editor of the "Agricultural Reporter", a newspaper produced by his adversaries, the elite white planters, stated: "Such a man is scarcely likely ever to appear upon the scene of life here or anywhere in the West Indies for the simple reason that the same circumstances can never exist again. His class can never again produce so strong a man in the sense in which he was strong because no one of them will ever (be) required to fight such a battle as that which he fought and won."

The Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic was named after this valiant Barbadian who struggled for the upliftment of the down-trodden.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Barbados National Hero Errol Walton Barrow


Biographical Information
Acclaimed as the Father of Barbados' Independence, Errol Walton Barrow was born in the parish of St. Lucy on January 21, 1920. Over the 15-year period of his Administration first as Premier and then as Prime Minister ending in 1976, he was particularly successful in securing many social changes for Barbados.

A founder-member of the Democratic Labour Party, Barrow swept to power as Premier in 1961 and held that position until 1966. He then took the island into Independence from Britain after his party won elections and he thus became Barbados' first Prime Minister.

Indeed, Barrow was twice Prime Minister, in 1966 to 1976 and again in 1985 to 1987. He served as Opposition Leader during part of the interregnum which he interrupted for an academic sabbatical in the United States and, as he declared, "to recharge" his "batteries".

The son of the late Rev. Reginald Grant Barrow and the late Ruth nee O'Neal, Errol was the nephew of legendary Dr. Charles Duncan O'Neal, founder of the Democratic League, and brother of Errol's mother.

In December, 1939, Errol won a scholarship in Classics to Codrington College but did not pursue those studies. Instead, he joined the Royal Air Force and served in World War II.

He was personal navigation officer to the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army at the Rhine between 1940 and 1942. After his stint in the RAF, Barrow studied law and was called to the Bar, Inns of Court in 1949. He returned home in 1950 as a practising barrister-at-law and became a member of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in 1951.

That year he won a seat in St. George for the BLP which moved from 12 members in the House of Assembly to 16, thus obtaining a clear majority for the first time. But the desire to fashion a new political force led Barrow in 1955, along with Cameron Tudor and others to form the Democratic Labour Party.

However, he lost his seat in the 1956 General Elections, but returned to Parliament after successfully contesting a by-election in St. John in 1958.

Such was the quality of his leadership and impact on Barbados' social landscape that Barrow received many awards while serving as Head of Government. Among them were an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from McGill University of Canada in 1966 and the Lions International "Head of State Award" for "outstanding service to the country" in 1967.

He was guest of United States President Lyndon Johnson in 1968, was made a Privy Councillor in 1969 and authored "Canada's Role in the West Indies" (published in 1964 by the Canadian Institute of International Affairs).

In his first 15-year administration, says Theodore Sealy in his "Caribbean Leaders", "it seems that social democracy in bringing the people to be beneficiaries of the new kind of state, freed as it is from the plantocracy, was the guiding spirit of his administration".

Barrow achieved:

democratisation of the educational process and expanded free education to all levels ù victory against segregation in education;

the introduction of a National Insurance and Social Security scheme;

school meals on an improved nutritional basis;

improved health services;

accelerated industrial development; and considerable expansion of the tourist industry.

He took Barbados into Independence in November, 1966.

F.A. Hoyos in his "Builders of Barbados", writes that, propelled by Barrow's defence of the sugar workers' cause in the country districts, during the deadlock between the Barbados Workers' Union and the Sugar Producers' Federation over negotiations for increased wages, the DLP won a decisive victory in the December 4, 1961 General Elections. A crash programme of public works was introduced to provide relief for the unemployed; roads were repaired, land at Seawell and gullies across the island were cleared; men were set to work to commence canalisation of the Constitution River; secondary education was made free in all government schools; a new deal was arrived at for agricultural labourers and construction began for 30 industries.
Mr. Barrow made Barbados a member of the Organisation of American States and in 1968, with other regional leaders, launched the Caribbean Free Trade Area, the forerunner to CARICOM.

Having been selected by the people to lead Barbados into Independence in 1966, Barrow thus brought to an end the long process of decolonisation. His record of achievement led to his DLP's landslide victory in the September, 1971 General Elections, capturing 18 of the 24 seats in the House of Assembly.

After 15 years in power, was defeated in the General Elections of 1976 by a resurgent BLP under J.M.G.M. "Tom" Adams and spent the next ten years (1976-1986) in Opposition.

In 1986, at the age of 66 years, he again led his party to power, winning the General Elections by the largest ever margin of seats in Barbados' history 24-3.

Sadly, Errol Barrow did not live long enough to enjoy this victory. After only one year in office he died on June 1, 1987. He had, however, left an impressive record: First Prime Minister 1966-1976; "Father of Independence", supporter of the UWI and regional unity; designer of a modern system of public budgeting; architect of the University of the West Indies Campus at Cave Hill, Barbados; creator of the Barbados Community College; co-founder of the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA); inspiration for lowering the age of majority from 21 to 18 and co-founder of CARICOM. (It was said of him that "He found Barbados a collection of villages, and transformed it into a proud nation.")

In reality, Barbados did not have to fight against Britain to achieve Independence, but in one of his speeches, Barrow argued that he would not "be found loitering on the steps of the British colonial office". Many interpreted this to mean that if there was British resistance to the move towards full autonomy, Barbados would not wait around to beg for it.

Grateful Barbadians observe the birthday of Errol Walton Barrow on January 21 as a national holiday, and have a constant reminder of his life and service for his likeness is widely circulated on the island's $50 note, popularly known as "an Errol".

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Crop Over Special Island Tour, Free Rum and Calypso CD

Visit Our Website For Details glorytours.org

De Crop Done Time For De Fun

Are you part of a group coming to Barbados for Crop Over?
Well this is the tour for you. Join us as we visit:

Harrisons Cave,
St. Johns Church,
East Coast (Lunch Stop)
Mount Gay Rum Tour

Tour Includes pick up and drop off to hotel or villa,
transport, all entrance fees, lunch and drinks. All
Participants will be given a small bottle of rum.
Each couple will also be given a gift cd of Calypso Music

(Minimum of 10 persons required)

(Available on direct bookings only)

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010



Biographical Information

In life he was a portrait of greatness. In death his image looms forever large.

From educator, to politician, leader of organised labour, parliamentarian, member of the Government and, finally, to the pinnacle of public life as Head of State. This was the spectacular and unexcelled rise of Sir Hugh Worrell Springer, Barbados' third native Governor-General. For six years up to 1990, Sir Hugh held that post, following the death of his predecessor, Sir Deighton Ward.

In recognition of his "good work for Barbados in general and for the Barbados Progressive League in particular", Sir Hugh is complimented by historian F.A. Hoyos. In his book "The Story of the Progressive Movement", the author points to Sir Hugh's "impressive contributions to the common stock of policy and counsel".

His long and distinguished academic career and public service mark Sir Hugh as among the greatest Barbadians of all time. A 1931 Barbados Scholar in Classics achieved at his alma mater, Harrison College, he later stood in the vanguard of public education policy-making throughout the Commonwealth for most of his life.

That scholarship qualified him for entry to Hertford College in Oxford where he gained a B.A. degree in 1936. He obtained the M.A. degree from this institution in 1944, studied law at the Inner Temple, London and was called to the Bar in 1938.

Sir Hugh Springer, already recognised as an outstanding administrator, was the organiser and first General Secretary of the Barbados Workers' Union from 1940 to 1947. He left Barbados that year to take up the post of Registrar of the newly established University College of the West Indies in Jamaica.

He worked in a variety of professional and political capacities, including being a Member of the House of Assembly; General Secretary of the Barbados Labour Party; Acting Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Barbados, as well as serving as Director, Commonwealth Education Liaison Unit; Commonwealth Assistant Secretary-General and Secretary-General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

By 1940, the Barbados Progressive League, whose labour programme had been outlined the previous year by new president, Grantley Adams, had won seats at the General Elections. Adams had also rededicated the League to political education and organisation as well as the development of trade unionism. Among those capturing a seat in Parliament was Hugh Springer who won on the League's ticket for St. George.

His administrative skills greatly benefited the Progressive League, of which he was General Secretary and which had created an economic section later registered as the BWU. So remarkable was his stewardship as the union's first General Secretary, that Hoyos wrote: "Hugh Springer's organising genius at this stage was of the first importance to the labour movement ...."

His already distinguished career advanced even further in 1944 when he was appointed a member of the Executive Committee, thus increasing labour representation as Mr. Adams had become a member two years earlier.

In a 1946 Barbados Progressive League-Congress Party coalition, led by Mr. Adams as the first Premier in the annals of the colony, Mr. Springer held responsibility for Education, Legal Departments, Agriculture and Fisheries.

It was impossible, however, to limit the services of so talented a son of the soil to Barbados alone. In response to the obvious regional need, he resigned from the League and the Union in 1947 to take up duties as Registrar of the University College of the West Indies, at Mona in Jamaica, a development regarded by the historian as a "severe blow to the labour movement".

But Springer had laid a solid foundation. For the BWU, he had bought properties including the first headquarters at the corner of Fairchild and Nelson Streets and the former Beacon building or "Unity House" on Roebuck Street.

Along with Frank Walcott, who was assistant to the General Secretary of the League and the Union, Hugh Springer had roped in the agricultural workers from the mid-1940s; consolidated divisions in the docks, and attracted membership from utilities, government, and clerical as well as white collar workers.

A published academic, Sir Hugh's work appears in regional publications such as "Caribbean Quarterly", "Pelican Annual" and "Torch" and in international publications such as "RSA Journal", and "Universities Quarterly", among others.

The former Governor-General was married to Dorothy nee Gittens and had three sons and a daughter.

Sir Hugh died in 1994

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010




Biographical Information

They spoke of him with a degree of awe that was never before or since accorded a leader of this country; and that regard found expression in names such as "Moses" and "Messiah". To have lived in his day was to be able to appreciate why this Barbadian legend, skillfully and bravely taking on the entrenched conservative power structure, drew political comparisons with the Biblical rescuers of old. And yet, Grantley Herbert Adams, sought neither that adulation nor such exalted personifications. His vision was fixed on nothing but the task of bringing the oppressed masses out of social and economic bondage. By this means, he judged, the entire society would be free to develop in harmony.

This, then, is what led Sir Grantley to become the first Premier of Barbados and the only Prime Minister of the now defunct West Indies Federation. He was a social reformer bent on achieving human rights for Barbadians, despite resistance by the exploitative plantocracy and merchant ruling classes.

There can be no doubt that this was his self-appointed programme for leading and lighting the way to a better life for the under-privileged masses and establishing social justice across all ethnic and economic classes; nor can there be the slightest doubt that it required the utmost tact and careful timing if his efforts were to bring success.

As his vehicle for persuading the elitist power structure to accept the poor as humans, Adams, a highly respected lawyer, used his election to the House of Assembly as Member for St. Joseph in 1934 at the age of 36. His mastery of debate on the floor of the House gave him the ideal launching pad for his fight with the wealthy and privileged class, and earned him the respect and admiration of Barbadians in all strata. He was returned to office in the 1935 and 1936 General Elections.

After the 1937 riots, triggered by the arrest, trial and deportation of Clement Payne, a popular unionist born in Trinidad of Barbadian parents, Sir Grantley became Payne's attorney-at-law, and tried to restore order in Barbados.

Because of his professional and political standing, he was sent to England to inform the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and was first in giving evidence to the Dean Commission of Enquiry into the riots.

Adams was in his element. Putting forward a strong case for reform on behalf of the masses, he pointedly declared that had there been social change instead of continuing abject poverty, there would never have been any riots.

The flames of protest were rekindled into an idea for workers' unity on March 31, 1938, when the Barbados Labour Party was launched. Such was the high regard in which he was held, Adams was elected, in his absence from the island on legal business, as the party's first deputy leader. The following year, he took over the leadership.

In 1940, under his leadership, the party (then known as the Barbados Progressive League) won five seats in the House of Assembly. In 1941, the Barbados Workers' Union was formed and Adams was President until 1954.
In 1942, he was appointed a member of the Executive Committee.

In the mid '40s Adams, together with Hugh Worrell Springer (later Sir Hugh), wielded considerable power through their membership on the Governor-in-Executive Committee. He either initiated or was otherwise associated with the passage of various important pieces of legislation which set the stage for widespread and fundamental changes throughout Barbados; for example:
the Barbados Workmen's Compensation Act,
amendment to the Barbados Education Act, modernising the system and improving facilities;
establishment of a Wages Board and Labour Department;
reduction (in 1943) from 50 to 20 pounds sterling in the franchise qualifying a Barbadian to vote in general elections, and the ability of women to vote on equal terms with men,
Erdiston Teachers' College was started in 1948,
old age pensions were increased,
improved working conditions came for shop assistants,
increases in the public service,
Building the Deep Water Harbour, and
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

In 1946, Adams was Leader of the House and the Workmen's Compensation Act, passed in the early '40s, was proclaimed. Adams, who dethroned the plantocracy in Barbados, consistently took the case of the masses against the ruling class. He has been reported by Theodore Sealy in his "Caribbean Leaders" as a figure challenging the past to build a new future ..."

In political life in Barbados, Sir Grantley combined the talents of a great lawyer with those of a shrewd, visionary politician, in helping to change Barbados into a new, more progressive country. And he did this at great risk to himself physically and professionally.

Bullet holes in his home at Tyrol Cot bear testimony to the violence directed against this great Barbadian.
He and his lieutenants, first Hugh Springer, and then Frank Walcott, built a unique trade union movement, says F.A. Hoyos in his "Builders of Barbados".

In the successful effort to bring about social change, the Barbados Labour Party worked side-by-side with the Barbados Workers' Union. That unified effort was essential in those days to confront powerful forces arrayed against workers and hostile to the emergence of Blacks on the political scene.

In his campaign against the old regime and in pursuit of true democracy, Sir Grantley secured the introduction of Universal Adult Suffrage in 1951. Under the Bushe Experiment, in 1946, he was invited to submit four names for membership of the Executive Committee, and the island got a measure of responsible government with a semi-ministerial system of government.

In 1950 Adult Suffrage became a reality, and in 1954 full ministerial government was introduced, with Adams as first Premier. He had brought the popular movement to the summit of political power, according to Hoyos, with the attainment of the Cabinet system and full internal self-government in 1958.

In advancing the island's Constitution, Sir Grantley led the new movement in achieving social and industrial reform. Some of thes measures were:
improved health facilities,
housing schemes,
minimum wage legislation,
benefits for plantation and industrial workers,
and social welfare.

While Sir Grantley fully understood and used his parliamentary office to promote social and political improvements, he also persisted with his commitment to workers' causes.
He was elected President of the Caribbean Labour Congress in 1947 in Jamaica. This was the peak of his work for the formation of this united labour front, which brought together the political Caribbean.

For more than ten years afterwards, he worked on building the foundation of the Federation of the West Indies; and were it not for extreme insularity, selfishness and envy elsewhere in the region, these Caribbean states might today be among the world's mini power blocs.

A firm believer in the highest principles of democratic socialism, Sir Grantley led the movement to sever Caribbean trade unions from the World Federation of Trade Unions, according to Hoyos, and was instrumental in the founding of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. He was elected one of its three vice-chairmen.

In 1954, Frank Walcott broke with Grantley Adams and the next year, some BLP members, led by Errol Barrow, left that organisation and formed the Democratic Labour Party. On his departure to lead the West Indies Federation, Sir Grantley chose Dr. Hugh Gordon Cummins to head the party and be Premier of Barbados in 1958.

By then, he had already achieved such astonishing social and political changes in the island that Barbados was being hailed far and wide as a model country lacking only the formality of political Independence from Britain.

After formal dissolution of the regional enterprise on May 31, 1962, Sir Grantley returned home.

He was re-elected to the House of Assembly in 1966 and assumed the role of Leader of the Opposition. Helped by new blood in the party, he brought the BLP to the position of a powerful Opposition in the House of Assembly. In 1970, with his health declining, he resigned from public life and, while remaining Life President of the BLP, handed over the responsibilities of leadership to younger men such as H. B. St. John, and J.M.G.M. "Tom" Adams, his son, who became Prime Minister of Barbados in September, 1976.

Sir Grantley Adams' likeness is engraved on the island's largest currency denomination - the $100 note, which many feel, though it has never been officially conceded, as a memento of his immense stature on Barbados' social and political landscape.

He died at the age of 73 on November 28, 1971, and was buried at St. Michael's Cathedral.

(left) Tyrol Cot Sir Grantley's Home (right) Sir Grantley's desk

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