This past weekend, two major annual events in the Caribbean cultural calendar took place: Caribana in Toronto, where I live, and Crop Over (the official name of carnival) in Barbados, where I’m from. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to Crop Over this year, and I was reminded of all the fun I was missing when I saw pictures of Rihanna in her GORGEOUS costume.
But that regret was quickly replaced by rage once I saw the headlines that major American outlets used to report her activities during our homeland celebration. “Rihanna gets drunk and twerks in the street,” “Rihanna twerks island style,” and “RiRi parades half naked in overly skimpy outfit!” were just a few of the ignorant-ass headlines I had to take in. And the WORST part about these mindless and cretinous statements is the fact that none of them came from anyone knowledgeable of Caribbean culture. African Americans get up in arms when their culture is judged by people OUTSIDE of it, but are now doing the SAME BULLSHIT to West Indians. Simply put, if you know nothing about historical and cultural traditions of the Caribbean yet feel the need to add your unenlightened opinions regarding our behavior, please shut the HELL up.
But I’m gon’ learn ’em now … In my small island of Barbados, here’s what our celebration means:
Crop Over is a five-week long summer festival and it’s our most popular and colorful festival. It’s origins can be traced back to the 1780s, a time when Barbados was the world’s largest producer of sugar. At the end of the sugar season, there was always a huge celebration to mark the culmination of another successful sugar cane harvest; hence the festival name – Crop Over.
Cohobblopot is a huge, colorful and spectacular show with the Kings and Queens of the Kadooment bands displaying their elaborate and stunning costumes. In recent years, there has also been a huge entertainment package with the most popular calypsonians (our island’s music) and bands performing to packed audiences.