Emerald Pademelon Press LLC

Love me, Barbados

Each chapter in Love Me, Barbados, by Richard Njuguna King, represents a story in the life of a teenage boy living near the capital, Bridgetown, Barbados, between 1966 and 1967. Rich grew up in Barbados and works with refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in the United States.

The opening story describes cultural and political events in the Caribbean island of Barbados as it prepares for a seminal election campaign leading up to independence from England in November 1966.

The second story describes a number of village characters who join a spontaneous carnival-like celebration erupting in the boy’s village near Bridgetown on Independence Day, November 30th, 1966.

The third story describes the events on the island on Independence night when a long-awaited concert by the American superstar group, the Supremes, devolved into a full-fledge riot by opportunistic bad boys in Bridgetown. Seen through the eyes of the teenager, initially it signaled a symbolic revolution, launching Barbados into true independence, far away from its stodgy, conservative past.

The remaining stories are about the trials and tribulations of a host of simple characters as they struggle to make a living and survive on the newly independent Caribbean island. They describe the teenager’s pursuit of sex, rum, and cricket, and his daily struggle to procure funds to satisfy these needs.

Other stories center around the exploits and adventures of characters such as an internally-known, rum-soaked musician, a bogus Obeah (voodoo) con-man, interracial couples and unrequited love, weekend village fighters, US Peace Corps workers, and a Bridgetown gang intent on warfare.

Cricket Days is features a manual government worker, whose frustrations with his lowly status and lack of opportunity living and growing up under British colonial control, are played out in violent clashes with other men in his village.

In contrast, Down in the Country is about life in the Barbados countryside and the discrimination and prejudice shown by native islanders, against a minority group of people called the “Buckras,”.

Still Down in the Country is about the innate urge of adult islanders to migrate. It covers the adventures of an old, but smart, man named Blackpool, who at the turn of the 20th century like most of the other young men his age, was compelled to leave his island in search of his fortune in the jungles of the Panama Canal and in Harlem, USA.

Guy Fawkes Dead and Gonerecounts the passing of an era when the colonial fireworks and celebrations of the Fifth of November, a Day to Remember, were outlawed after Independence. It recounts the changes that occurred in the life of the village, the country, and in the World in one year, from 1966 to 1967, and relates how the boy learned to grapple with the complexities of the transition of leadership from British to local rule.

The final story, Blind-Man Cricket describes the young narrator’s obsession with West Indies cricket and with Barbados rum. In the end, it shows how these twin loves saved him from a beating by a gang of bad “town boys” who saw themselves as being in a deadly feud with delinquents from his village.

Caution: The stories are those of an immature partially-educated teenager, hence the story teller’s reasoning, wording, and everything else is simple and repetitive. Although in 1967 Barbados, English is used and spoken correctly in business, high schools, and universities, the Bajan dialect is used elsewhere by everyone on the island. Therefore, the dialogue in each story is written phonetically as the characters would have heard as they engaged each other.
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