Read-IN! Celebrates 1937 Riots
“Agitate, advocate but don’t violate!”
This was the slogan of one of the most nostalgic events of the Crop Over Season for 2012. It was also the opening chants blurted from the mouths of the dancers/characters that made up the cast list of this year’s Crop Over Read-IN! – dubbed Birth Write – held on the ‘National Day of Significance’. Birth Write was conceptualised to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the 1937 Riots in Barbados. It was the first major production for the National Cultural Foundation’s (NCF) new Literary Officer Ayesha Gibson
Spoken word, rhythm poetry, prose and songs were on the lyrical platter served to all in attendance. Adrian Green weaved together the proceedings of each section as the MC.
MC Adrian Green
The evening celebrations began with a trip down memory lane as government officials, cultural stakeholders and average Barbadians walked from Golden Square through Heroes Square to Independence Square. Attorney and actor Andrew Pilgrim brought to life the spirit of Clement Payne, the National Hero who spearheaded the riots 75 years ago.
Independence Square was the grounds selected to remember those who lost their lives in the uprising. The words of the notorious song ‘Riots’ – which summarises the events that took place back then – were echoed throughout the square by the Mighty Gabby. Leading this musical tribute and others was the band 1688 directed by Stefan Walcott.
The stroll from Independence Square to the Parliament yard was next on the agenda for some in attendance because this was the meeting place for the dissecting of this year’s Read-IN!
The cast consisted of a mixture of artistes from the veterans – such as Adonijah, Nailah Imoja, Margaret Gill, Winston Farrell, Kenneth Lewis and iNDRANi – to new and not so new talent, including Shakirah Bourne, DJ Simmons, Bonnie Deveido, Zingha and Richard Lynch. The Haynesville Youth Drummers provided the backing rhythms and there was the occasional accompaniment of their dancers along with the NCF Choreography Corp.
The section called Bimshire featured a piece which pleaded with the politicians to “make us no promises”. Audio visual of a chattel house vividly took us back in time since they aren’t many of these traditional houses left in Bim these days.
Literary Officer Ayesha Gibson as she completes the Vote of Thanks
Setting the scene for 1937 was the delivery of Anthony Hinkson’s piece ‘Back to the Wall’ and Zingha’s piece ‘Lucky Number 14’. The latter chronicled a mother and son’s journey through the days prior to the riots and their subsequent fate on July 26, 1937. Channelling the spirit of Clement Payne was DJ Simmons in ‘Clements’s Regrets’.
The collaboration between Adonijah and DJ Simmons depicted the strong character of ‘woman’. Adonijah further treated the audience to the rhythmic movements that were instructed from his spirit through dance.
Singer and poet iNDRANi’s piece ‘Star’ sent a message to the audience that allows us to chart a path forward.
“Hold your head up and choose a star
Look in your history, that’s who you are
True definition of a shining star, that’s your history”