Barrouallie: Tales of different eras
April 19, 2013
National Heroes – What about Barrouallie?

The hot topic these days seems to be that of “Who should be our next National Hero.” Interestingly, we have an all male “cast” and of course they are championed mainly by males. Are there no females worthy of mention? Regardless of who is chosen though, the debate will continue long after.{{more}}

As I look around Barrouallie, I realize that we have so many community heroes who would have made solid contributions to the community of Barrouallie and, by extension, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

For some reason, “titles” seem to evade us. I search the “Queen’s” list each time it is publicized for a familiar Barrouallie face. Some here have been and continue to be community activists, have excelled in sports (representing national and regional teams), have made solid contributions to the fields of Education, Agriculture, Politics, Health, Business, construction etc. You name it, we have done it! Here we have so many farmers and fishermen who have done their part. Their efforts need to be recognized. Maybe we should consider having our BCA (Barrouallie Community Awards!!).

What else can we do? I have called for the erection of a replica of the blackfish, mounted on a monument with the names of those who have toiled inscribed on it. A similar monument can be erected in honour of our estate workers and all who would have contributed to the development of this town. A museum will be a good start and is in order!

In times gone by, Nurses Boyde and Iton made their rounds in Barrouallie providing health care to individuals here and “delivering” many babies at home! Now, we know that babies have a tendency to “show up” at odd hours of night into wee hours of the morning. Can you picture how hard that must have been on these health workers in those eras?

As I think of those who contributed, I see many humble individuals from all echelons of society. My mind takes me back several years ago to an era when I met and often chatted with two humble individuals as they performed their tasks as janitors after school hours. How I used to laugh with Ma Berns and Alfred Hepburn aka “Kyah”. The name Kyah is a household name ( or should be) not only in Barrouallie, but in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

As the carnival season rolls around each year, one can see Kyah not in his usual garb, but all blackened as he plays mas. His attire and “complements” include: big heavy chains, a wig, a black dress, bracelets, nose rings…..and of course he uses coals to acquire the desired black effect. He has been doing this for years. When I sat down with him recently, Kyah recounted that he must have started at the turn of 20 years or thereabouts and, from that age to now, we know that is a considerable number of years. He recalled that two other individuals, in the persons of Gory and Obed Primus, played mas too. I remember Obed was the silent one who crept up on “you” unannounced and a few individuals would have broken their legs trying to escape from the face which instilled fear even into the adults.

Kyah, however, is usually accompanied by his mas band, a “string” of individuals who beat their old pans and cups as they followed Kyah all over. Therefore, for the fearful, you had time to run and hide as the sounds punctuated the atmosphere. Nowadays, not many seem to have that fear and, the children delight in joining the mas man wherever he goes. He recalls walking from Barrouallie to Kingstown just to play his mas. His journey has taken him to surrounding communities such as Layou and Spring Village. Sometimes people within the communities make a monetary contribution to him. A feeling of satisfaction “crossed” his face when he remarked that, in addition to Barrouallie, Layou is one of the communities where the people really appreciate his efforts and reward him accordingly. What about the Ministry of Culture?

I asked Kyah about some of his fond memories. He recalled one incident many years ago when he had walked to Kingstown for the usual session. He had just gotten to an area in front of the Central Police Station when he met a group of tourists. Apparently, these tourists had not seen anything like that before and fear was etched on their faces, especially the females. Kyah recalled that they gave him 100 dollars. In his usual style, he danced a distance then “wheeled” suddenly with his stick/sword extended….that’s how he does it!! One female in the group could not endure the fear any longer and begged for the group to give Kyah another 100 dollars in an effort to get rid of him, but she didn’t wait to see what transpired. She took off like a jet plane, ran into the police station at full speed, knocking the sentry flat on his back!!!!

I’ll end on this humorous note and leave you in “stitches” until next week…