The Real Story of Barbados started as a set of essays on the characters I met over the years spent building the Barbados Tourism Encyclopedia.

As I processed the stories, I kept asking myself how are these ordinary and extraordinary Barbados people so full of life, open and friendly, given their history. I intended to write about the fantastic, witty, and fun people, and I did not have an articulated plan to do more. More was percolating in my subconscious, and in fact, there were several chapters on history but they were not woven into the story.

The publishers’ editor told me she saw Rogues in Paradise as a different story of Barbados. I understood that immediately. My focus was on the regular local people with some antidotes of the gentry. I knew something was missing; it had not manifested in my mind yet. The real story of Barbados is about people of a different history, and I needed to say more about that. I needed to tie people together with history and heritage, and I needed to explain what was exceptional and why.

The Why of the Book

Understanding why Barbados was unlike any other Caribbean Islands, required digging deep into the past. The people of the Caribbean islands are not the same. Jamaicans and Trinidadians are as different as chalk and cheese. Barbados is an outliner with exceptional circumstances, geography, heritage, and character. It is a common saying that “Barbados stood alone”, which means it was apart geographically, but as I studied the people and their past, it became clear that “Barbados stands apart in many ways”, which became a key focus of the book. Unraveling the meaning of Barbados’ heritage led to new insights and revelations about the people of Barbados, its culture, and its lifestyle.

Heritage and Character

Under the editors’ guidance, I added several new chapters and sections. The book then became more than a set of essays. The stories and history were part of the real story, reorganized to flow with logical pacing, bridging together history and character. The rogues and heroes of the book took part in the story of their history, commenting in real-time on what it may have meant then and what it means now. I gathered new stories from the rogues dealing with historical influences on life today. In keeping with the style of the book, the added stories brim with wit, and humour, amid meaningful commentary. This added a real vitality to history making the past part of todays’ reality in tangible and relatable ways.

Tourism and People

As tourism is central to Barbados, I added several chapters on Bajan as hosts, and the characters who make the island one of the most revisited tourist destinations in the world. This section features Bajan Characters who deliver the tourism experience. It also features some of the many different travelers who enjoy the island and visit it again and again. I asked them what they liked most about Barbados, invariable the answer was,  “the Bajan people!

The Black Experience

bussa in the real story of barbados

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Writing about the black experience was most challenging. Colonials wrote the history of Barbados from their perspective, and it is almost impossible to find first-hand accounts from the enslaved person’s point of view. The old masters did not paint an authentic picture of the lives of their enslaved people. Barbados Black history is an interpretation of a Euro-centric and colonial mindset. Even modern-day progressive authors have only this source to draw from.

The book’s conclusion adds meaning and purpose to Rogues in Paradise. It defines what was different about the past and how it affected the future of Barbados and its people. The conclusion pieces all the bits together. It answers the central mystery of HOW these remarkable people survived 300 years of slavery and systemic discrimination and WHY they are today so open, friendly and welcoming. They are spectacular hosts, showing empathy and respect with a fun attitude of humour, wit, and wisdom.

Throughout history, Barbados has had leaders of vision and foresight. As wretched as the Colonial masters were, they did some things that have made an enormous difference. Because they insisted on bringing in men and women in equal numbers and encouraging family life, Barbados became the first slave society in the new world.

From the beginning, children of the enslaved were born into slavery in Barbados. They were Bajans by birth, which profoundly influenced identity, society, and cohesiveness. This and other differences made Barbados Stand Apart, with a distinctive Bajan identity.

 

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Be sure to get this book. Rogues in Paradise, the Real story of Barbados will delight you with its quirky characters and its lesson from Rogues in Paradise.

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