October 25, 2019
Shaiyan’s ‘Minivan Hussle’ rocks Methodist Church Hall

Her observations about the minivan culture in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and her ability to articulate them in an entertaining manner, earned Shaiyan Bowman accolades on Wednesday night.

Bowman, of the Mountain View Adventist Academy, took the top spot in the student prepared component of the Lion’s Club South FLOW Secondary Schools Public Speaking Competition but placed second overall, beaten by Rishona James of Girls’ High School (GHS).

Her presentation, “Mini Vans Hustle”, presented, through her eyes, the travelling public’s daily experience and what some may describe as the omnibus bedlam.

“We have to take our hats off to the conductors. I believe many of them would easily earn a university degree in van packing.

“These young men make the expression ‘pack like sardine’ look like joke. They will not move an 18-seater van unless there are 25 persons on board. You have to ‘lap up’, and ‘small up yo self’. Talk about close contact! But guess what? The school children love that. It’s all about the minivan hustle,” Bowman said during her delivery.

“There is something special about the driver too. I believe that many of them would easily earn a license for flying rather than driving. I am convinced that if there were not so many corners on our roads some of our drivers would literally cause those vans to fly,” the student noted while expressing this popular view.

She said that at times, minivan drivers put Isaac Newton’s law that light travels in a straight line to shame.

“I am now convinced that light bends! How else can one explain vans overtaking other vehicles around corners at top speed if light can’t bend to allow these young men to see around the corners?” she questioned jokingly.

Touching another much spoken about issue, Bowman said music is another important aspect of the hustle.

“If you want school children on the van you have to have music and it must be loud, especially music punctuated with sexual lyrics, sprinkled with bits of expletives.

“Why do you think the school children don’t like the school buses? Many prefer to reach late every day to school rather than ride the very spacious, carefully driven school buses where the only music is coming from 107.5 FM. There must be loud music with children sitting in each other’s lap, that’s all part of the minivan hustle,” Bowman said to the crowd.

She noted also that the minivan hustle involves the competition for the title, “Hardest van on the road”.

This involves having shining mag rims, a great sound system, loud music, psychedelic colours, graphics, slogans, and names like “Toppa”, “Dresh” and “Dazzle”.

“…School buses can’t compete. One carries the name ‘School Bus’, another has the name ‘School Bus’ and what do you think is the name of the other and the other? ‘School Bus’!” she said to laughter from the gathering.

She however noted, that while minivans play a very important role in our country by providing an invaluable service and persons understand the hustle, it’s time for them to step up.

“Speed is necessary, yes, but safety is more important; too many lives are at stake. It is improper to have schoolgirls sitting in the lap of young men or anyone for that matter,” stated Bowman.

She added also that the operators need to “step up” by keeping the profanity and vulgarity out of the music and toning the volume down as too many school children are affected negatively by it.

Minutes after the competition, Bowman told SEARCHLIGHT she was pleased and excited about her achievement on the night.

“I am happy with my performance and I am grateful to all the support that I have gotten, and I believe that I would do it again sometime in the future”, Bowman commented.

The Enhams resident is the daughter of Gabriel and Shawn Bowman. She said her father and teachers helped with her winning piece.

“I ride minivans, and this is about my experience,” the form five science student commented.

In third place was the Danielson Ferguson of the St Vincent Grammar School. The other finalists were Stephen Lavia of the Intermediate High School, Eldonte Samuel of the Bishop’s College Kingstown and Vickron Alexander of the Union Island Secondary School.

All students presented their thoughts on the general topic “Should individuals who claim to be LGBTQ be afforded all Human Rights prescribed under International Law?”

The GHS won in both the general and impromptu categories.