Two Crop-Overs ago, I heard a tune from Li’l Rick that went :
You pass me by de door like you don’t know me
And I beg yuh let me in, yuh never score me
But a shot get call fuh me
And I clear security
And you jump when you see me in VIP
Don’t worry…I get through… I get though
From the time I heard this song, I told my husband “this song is going to be a hit… it’s the most Bajan song ever!”
See Bajans are funny… as Bajans would say with classic understatement.
My St Lucian husband’s friend said it better – that ‘you could offend a Bajan and wouldn’t know for years!’
This is exactly what happened in yesterday’s general elections.
Barbadians were offended by the former DLP government for the past several years. Offended by high taxes, poor bus service, sewage in the streets of the South Coast, potholes and by a standoffish, seemingly uncaring Prime Minister in Freundel Stuart.
But if you don’t know Bajans, you could have been fooled into thinking it wasn’t so bad.
Because a Bajan could be vex, vex, vex with you but would tell you ‘don’t worry… I get through.”
Part of this is historical. Barbados was one of the most brutal and oppressive of slave societies. Part of that was geographical. Geography is destiny after all and Barbados’ very flat topography lent itself to a booming slavery-era sugar industry where nearly every inch of liveable land was taken up by the plantocracy.
Unlike in Jamaica or elsewhere in the Caribbean there were no rugged, inaccessible mountains in the interior to run to for escape from a small, brutal society.
I have heard people from other islands express bafflement and frustration at the caginess of Barbadians.
But the truth is, being reserved and keeping your feelings to yourself has become such a second nature to Bajans that they don’t even realise they’re doing it. For Bajans in the past, being reserved was survival. For Bajans now, it is simply what is.
You couldn’t strike out at massa and then run off to the hills. And so Bajans said ‘don’t worry, I get through.’
But make no mistake – they can be angry as hell while they’re saying they get through.
The depth of this classically Bajan, passive agressive anger was underestimated. But it was the X factor that sunk this government and created history with not just the island’s first female Prime Minister but has given her the largest mandate ever in the country’s electoral history.