Tuk dancers performing at Carifesta in Barbados.
Photo by George Alleyne

Showing off your culture to an audience of mainly locals who live it daily and to a set of visitors who have been experiencing this style of living over the past weeks and days is at anytime a challenge.

The Bajan team met the challenge of the home country displaying its culture to its own people and entertaining Carifesta visitors who have been moving around the island experiencing bits and shades of the same, by putting on a hyper show for this regional cultural extravaganza that ended last weekend.

On the designated ‘Barbados Night’ Barbadian artistes took to the stage in the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford car park and Muddah Sally whipped her blessings around, three Tuk Bands clashed, children and their elders sang and danced, and top-notched artistes from the recently ended CropOver revved up the crowd as the host nation threw a party.

The performance was themed ‘Tuk is we Ting’ a premise that gave the performers wide scope to delve into various theatrical demonstrations of this island unique art form that helps create an ingredient in the melting pot of intricate Caribbean culture, largely influenced by a history of resistance to attempts at domination.

Tuk is of course played by a Tuk Band, an ensemble that includes persons on a double-headed bass drum, a snare drum, and several pennywhistles.

This group represents a critical part of Barbadian culture of subtle resistance.

“British slave masters in Barbados passed a law in the late 1600s forbidding the slaves to beat their drums, for fear they would be using them to communicate surreptitiously across plantations and incite revolt. The punishment was death, and although they found other ways to communicate, the Tuk Band provided an ‘acceptable’ musical alternative, whereby the slaves beat their drums to mimic the music of the British fife and drum corps,” The Barbados Tourism Management Inc website states.

Red Plastic Bag and his sailors.
Photo by George Alleyne

Haynesville Youth Group and ‘Sing Out Barbados’ welcomed the audience that had already built up before the 7 pm start.

Muddah Sally came on stage and flounced around her Bajan ampleness.

Various versions of this buxom lady can be found throughout the region as her prancing and gyrations are part of fertility dances passed down from the African West Coast, whence the ancestors of many of today’s Caribbean people were brought.

No better way to kick-start the frenzied action after the cultural messages than to begin with ‘Hypersounds’; followed by 2016 Pic-O-De-Crop Monarch , Aziza; then Adrian Clarke; the maestro Gabby; Crystal Cummins-Beckles; Peter Ram; and Red Plastic Bag.

A noticeable absence from Barbados’ cultural display was the hallmark Landship, but RPB and his merry band of sailors made up for this by taking the audience on the water to rock the boat.

Not content to entertain from stage, Peter Ram raised the crowd passion to another level by joining them on the tarmac.

Muddah Sally flouncing.
Photo by George Alleyne

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