Bassy - Love Vine
January 31, 2020

Dat Breadfruit Board Coffin

IT DID NOT surprise me at all, when ah heard dat Sir Frederick had requested to be laid to rest in ah Coffin made from Breadfruit Board.

Neither did it surprise me when ah

heard he went out ah de way and located the Breadfruit Boards from his buddy Vidal Browne. Was no guessing dat Sir Fred knew exactly way to find ah good Joiner in Oscar Cadougan, ah Salvationist, his personal friend, actually another humble soul like himself to build his Coffin. Oscar’s work-shop is in Rose Place, more popularly known as Bottom Town, considered one ah de more depressed residential Blocks in Kingstown; De shop is ah small galvanize shed next to Nine Steps, yuh can’t miss it, but is not de place yuh’ll find Governors liming, except de Humble Sir Fred.

Apart from being ah small Fishing Community, dey’s nothing Rosey bout Rose Place; doh expect to find any Roses (flower) down dey either; yuh go find de close friends and family of Ms Marie Warner. Lie-Za does say, down dey is Bottom Town in name and nature. But in de same breath she would have me know dat Dr Ken John and former US Ambassador Roy Austin are proud early products of Rose Place.

Sir Fred, was ah Roots Man too from Layou, ah fishing town (not any more), so he would ah bin comfortable being among de Fisher-folks in Bottom Town, and knew de kind ah inspiration his “GG” image would have had on de folks. And maybe he went to de Slums to remind us dat in all ah we big plans to build ah new city in Rose Place, there is already ah Fishing Community dat could be enhanced, and there are folks like Oscar and musician/Teacher Patches Knights, whose expertise could be tapped to equip de Youths wid something more positive dan what Ms Marie Warner and de other White Lady offering.

But basically dat was de nature of de Man Sir Fred, just Humble! Humility has many brothers and sisters: Poor in Spirit! Love foh people! Kind! Generous!

Selfless wid his contribution to Health! He was like Confucious when it came to Quotations. Like de time we were talking bout wealthy people, and he told me: “Bassy always remember that folks who are Rich today could be Poor tomorrow, and those who are Poor today could be Rich tomorrow!” And den he would warn me: “Please don’t put that in your column” actually he was quite serious. Is ah lot ah lickle personal and private notes we uses to exchange like ah coconut water is better dan Apple Cider Vinegar. He loved his privacy. He would tell me good things to write but ah could still hear him: “Don’t go write this or that in your column.” Like de time he told me he wanted to let me into ah lickle secret: “Your people at the (medical) school,” he said, “dey

want to honour me, you will hear more. And this is not for your column eh.”

Sir Frederick is gone to ah place way de Good Souls find Rest. His Breadfruit Board Coffin has merit and implications. Ah remember ah few years ago, watching Pope John Paul’s funeral ceremony, wid de lickle board box coffin in which dey laid him, ah told me family den, ah wanted one just like dat. Ah want to mek one lickle adjustment, it must be made from Breadfruit Board. And as Jerry Rounce our Village Toast-master serenading at Christmas uses to say: “When I die bury me deep, put ah Roast Breadfruit at my feet; two pieces ah Fry Fish in me hand, den send me to de Promise Land.”

Ah doh know if to blame our Breadfruit Men-tell-at-Tea, but sadly dey’s lickle or no dignity given to de Breadfruit as ah Nah-shunall brand, we giving it de same treatment of neglect or disrespect as we give to His Excellency Joseph Chatoyer our First Nahshun- all Hero.

Simple as it might sound, our Breadfruit plant is phenomenal. It springs up on yuh land uninvited; it grows wid-out any care or attention; at first it bears ah false fruit or ah baby dat some people still boil wid breadfruit leaf and drink foh High Blood Pressure.

When de tree matures further, is Breadfruit all year round; boiled or roast, den fried, mek chips, mek pie, salad, wine and punch. Roast Breadfruit got ah lot ah fibre dat’s good foh Pressure as well.

From de fully grown and matured plant we get lovely furniture boards. beginning wid de cradle at birth, bed, table, house and at death de coffin. Is years ah ain’t hear bout anybody burying in ah Breadfruit Box. Not when we could get an imported Casket worth thousands ah dollars, paid wid de lickle NIS and Bun Pan Society death benefits. So now dat Sir Fred has led de way and have restored unto de Breadfruit its dignity, expect to see more Breadfruit Board Houses and Coffins, similarly expect to see ah lot ah Breadfruit Trees cutting down. Lie-Za say dey should be no “Cutting Down of Anybody Breadfruit Tree!” dat is ah term used foh “Putting People out ah Wuk,” blatant Victim- I-say-shun, something Sir Fred Will never support.

May he Rest Peacefully.

And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

● Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.