It is the Sunday before Kadooment and the minds of most readers, more likely than not, will be concentrated wonderfully on matters such as the various parties, the identity of the Calypso Monarch and likely Tune of the Crop for 2016, with securing a costume for the street parade on Monday, or simply entertaining friends and/or family who have chosen to visit the island at this time. For those disinclined or otherwise reluctant to take part in the pandemonium or todoment of the occasion, and who should find time today to peruse the newspaper, it is the duty of the columnist to provide the traditional intellectual stimulation that you may seek in these pages despite the merriment that surrounds us.
Today, I have decided, in rather light-hearted fashion, to discourse on the national motto, especially that aspect that pertains to industry, in light of some of the “work” that will be on display tomorrow.
I have always been puzzled by the motto we have chosen -“Pride and Industry”. Clearly the reference therein to “Pride” has nothing at all to do with the cardinal sin of “hubristic self-overestimation” but speaks rather to that justifiable pride that we ought to feel in our achievements as a nation.
And we do have much to be proud of. For one, our pacifist political nature that permits us to change administrations through the medium of the ballot box rather than through force of arms, despite the seeming impatience of some for that opportunity to arrive; our freedom of expression that sustains arguments critical of the establishment and allows peaceful protest of policy decisions; and our reliance on the rule of law to govern our civic interactions.
Of course, in recent times, the crown of our hitherto near-pristine existence have slipped somewhat and the challenges posed by a more globalized environment have caused a loss of pride owing to some practices that have become part of our culture. The apparent increase in access to illegal firearms, despite our best efforts to stem their acquisition, and their indiscriminate use by those bent on redressing some perceived wrong, have caused us to rethink our old feeling of personal security in our daily existence; the recurrent criticism of the relative sloth of our judicial system by the Car1bbean Court of Justice and its negative impact on the treasured constitutional guarantee of protection of the law of a fair hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal within a reasonable time have stung us to the core; and the national psyche and economic well-being have been assaulted by a seemingly interminable recession that threatens to reverse most of the gains we may have secured over the past 50 years.
As to the second quality, at first blush, the concept of “Industry” is an eminently laudable one and the constant public prayer for increased productivity as well as the general recognition that hard work is the key to success in most facets of life, embody the embracing of this aspect of the motto.
There is, however, another kind of ‘work” in which some of us are ready to engage in a few hours; however, the spelling is entirely different from the accepted English orthography and has been variously rendered as “wuk” or perhaps the more ostensibly descriptive, though admittedly rarer, “wuck”. This is what I mean by “the other industry”.
“Wucking up” appears to be a peculiarly Barbadian phenomenon, although there have frequently been claimed alliances with the African continent and appeals to Eastern belly-dancing to justify its public display. It is effected by some revelers as an interlude in their pilgrimage across the stage at the National Stadium and on the journey to Spring Garden either as a response to a non-verbal challenge from a fellow band-member or, perhaps less frequently, as a way of drawing public attention to themselves, although the accompanying half-embarrassed facial expressions would seem to belie this conclusion in many cases.
Ordinarily, public dancing to music should not require justification, but there is a side of Barbados that is consumed with how others see us, the very power that Robert Burns wished for from the “giftie “-
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An‘ ev’n devotion!”
And, for those persons, the simulated sexual congress that public “wucking up” involves, even for the less prudish among them, constitutes an unwholesome form of conduct not befitting of the image that the archetypal Barbadian should convey to the rest of the world.
For them, the industry (or work) in our motto is best manifested in keeping the environment free of litter, being as efficiently productive as possible in our daily lives and exhibiting creativity in thought and manufacture.