Sunday, 9 October 2011

Conversation with a Bajan woman

In the faculty lunch room last week, I met a fascinating Bajan woman and we discussed a few topics that I found interesting which I’ll share with you.

  • The first topic is Relationships and Security
On this topic, she made it a point to tell a colleague that we can’t have the full Bajan experience unless we get a Bajan man while we’re here. Mark you, her partner is not Bajan.
“Bajan men are great partners- they’ll give you their money easily and if u cheat, they’ll just drink.” This last part was significant because other men from different cultures would react much differently apparently. Which brings me to her next  point:
“Never date a Vincentian, a married man or a police. A Vinci (Vincentian) man will chop u up; they can’t take a hurt.” These three categories of men to be wary of were given to her by her mother, she said, and “If it comes out o my modda mout’, it mus be true”
As it relates to the other two categories
“Police men are always broke. From the day they join the force to their last day. They spend the money on flashy cars and all these expensive things so nothing’s left for you”
A male friend of hers who was present also made a point to say that Guyanese police are also on the poorer end of the spectrum but that this is due to how low they get paid. He said they protect you in the day and commit crimes against you in the night. “That’s why our police are so well taken care of- our government knows better” This male friend is also Bajan.
“If you dealing with a married man, know your place. Don’t call that man after 5- the man is eating with his family. Never disrespect the main woman. He’s been stringing you along for 2-3 years for a reason! He’s not gonna leave his wife for you. After 4 years, he’s gonna drop u ‘cause he doesn’t want u to bring he (him) to court and sue, 5 years are coming up.”
 For those who don’t realize the significance of 5 years in a relationship, it means you are now common law relationship in the eyes of the law. But this only applies if you have been living together the entire 5 years.

  • Then we tackled the issue of security in relationships
My friend was present and she has been with her partner for over 6.5 years. I was teasing (with 50% seriousness) her to get married and get her benefits.
“You don’t need to get married. Just make sure your name is on the bank account. Two years in, my name has to be on that bank account. Every night I’m there doing my womanly duties and nothing? *laughs*”
Now, this approach would quickly be written off as materialistic and gold-digger-esque and if you were present hearing how she delivered her pearls of wisdom, you would likely be inclined to think of her as such. But after all she stripped away all the theatrics, she earnestly explained herself. “I’m not a gold digger. People can think what they want but NO woman wants an unstable, insecure relationship. You need something to let you know that you will be taken care of if anything should happen” She turned to her friend at some point before and asked him if he had his girlfriend who he loves, who loves him and takes great care of him, if he thought it was fair that if something would happen to him like an accident, that she would be left with nothing.

  • We touched on the topic of May-December romances.
“I like ‘em near retirement.” Her boyfriend is 38. And  American. She’s 21. Does she plan to get married? “If the pre-nup looks good- spot on. You gotta pay me to have babies. I’m not gonna just have babies ‘cause we married”.
She doesn’t see the point of women spoiling their figures especially early on in their lives to bear children. However, if the price is right…”I can get my belly tucked n my breasts lifted.”
Then the issues of long-distance relationships came up. She wasn’t an advocate for it because people have needs and she wasn’t so concerned about the needs of her partner as the needs of herself being fulfilled. She did, however, dish out advice to women in that type of situation.
“You need a Rabbit or a Bullet or a Clit clamp”. She mentioned some other stuff but I haven’t a clue what they are and I’d like to continue in my ignorance. J

  • We also touched on other topics as it pertained to Bajan culture and environment vs that of other islands and by this point, quite a few others had come into the room from other Caribbean countries.
I learned:

  1. The beaches in Bahamas are way prettier. Pure pink sand, people. It sounds like the right place for my honeymoon.
  2.  In Barbados, they pay based on qualifications. This is NOT the case in Jamaica and the Bajans seemed amazed. They thought the first degree held by me and many of my colleagues was a huge accomplishment. The fact that I had taken two years off and was still “young” while doing my second degree was even greater an accomplishment.
  3.  There is a reason why local television in Barbados and Barbadian media on a whole censors so much about what happens here (i.e. crime etc..). It is due to the fact that, unlike other countries, they only have ONE channel and this channel is owned by the government so they “gotta keep it clean. If tourists stop coming, we (our economy) dry up”
  4. Bahamians may be the nicest people in the Caribbean. Wait, Jamaicans lost their title? I was warned though, that this is the case with Bahamians as long as you don’t mess with their “food, men or money” (as told by a Bahamian woman herself)
  5.  The reason why Bajans are not, on a whole the most welcoming is that they are “small-minded” and this is due to their being from a small place and being very sheltered. To be honest, I have found that the nicest Bajans really are the ones who have travelled and who have mixed with people of other cultures.
  6. They say peas and rice, not rice and peas (some do say rice and peas) because you’re not supposed to be able to count the amount of peas in your rice. Bahamians say peas and rice too but they prepare theirs in a whole ‘nother way- there’s tomato paste and all sorts o ish.
  7. “Don’t expect value for your money here. We cater for tourists (i.e tourist money). Spend your money!” (mainly as it pertained to food and I can attest to that)
  8. They make grammatical errors as it pertains to redundancy when speaking their creole just like us Jamaicans. Eg: “Lower up the tv. Come back forward.” I was told, however, to bear in mind that they are the scholars of the Caribbean.

Overall, this was an edifying conversation. It was with one of the few Barbadians who was willing to be open and honest about their culture without having any malicious feelings toward their country. We spoke of places that we should lyme and places we should stay away from for controversial reasons. I will refrain from naming these places or reasons. I realize that her view is more balanced because she has experienced a different kind of upbringing, it seems, than the average Bajan. Her mother’s the first of 14 so that means big family. They cooked in huge pots every day. They’d cook “half a pig, fish, 30-40 lbs o chicken, baked chicken, fried chicken, jerk pork, stew pork, steam fish, fry fish, macaroni” and a WHOLE lot more- I just can’t remember it all. They also season their food like Jamaicans. This is great news because Bajan cuisine is an adjustment for my Jamaican palette. Her mother is a very kind and giving woman and this isn’t the norm for Bajan households. I guess it can be attributed to the fact that her mother and father are Vincentian. Kind of makes the warning about men seem funny, huh?

Anyway, I met a really incredible person and I hope to meet more like that here. We’ve been invited to a picnic today (Sunday) which should have as much food as I mentioned before. My kind of outing!

The entire conversation was a peak.

Bear in mind that the views held in this conversation were frank and honest. The Bajan woman was born and raised here all her life but she has travelled a lot and her views were supported by other Bajans in the room.


  1. WOW!!

    it was LONG and i read ALL of it!!! .. it HAD me.. ALL of it.

    "gold-digger-esque [....] she stripped away all the theatrics"...made me chuckle

    i did a paper about media in diff carb.islands... i had to listen to radio stations and read the papers everyday .. it was VERY diff from Jamaica's.. makes u wonder about a lot of things.

    i LOVE this post Nas

    PS "Lower up the tv" ??? claaat

  2. How exactly does one "lower up the tv"?

  3. I believe "lower up the tv" is to decrease the volume. So I was told. The practice of their media is something that has been noticed by nationals of Caribbean countries.

  4. Loved this post Nas. Very enlightening. And of course the picnic with plenty food would be your kind of outing. Lol.

  5. LOl.."lower up the tv" actually means 'to raise the volume"...We say a tonne of other ridiculous stuff..but enough embarrassment as
    Listen, make sure you converse with more sensible Bajans next time you wanna post bout us :p...I am dying with laughter :D

  6. The gentleman that said those terms to me mislead me then. Alas, it was just ONE conversation with a Bajan woman (even tho others were around). I blogged it because it was funny. She's a character.

  7. OMG nas i love this!!!! Captured my attention and had little to do with anything psychological. hehe. Captured and kept my attention. You have excellent writing skills and I am uber proud of you. Continue making mama proud...afta mi neva sen u ova deh fi nuttin. :)). xoxoxo