Last saturday evening Lisa and I found ourselves sitting on one of the built-in stone benches in the Independence Square. The square had been temporarily dubbed the ‘The University of Independence Square’, making reference to the famous University Of Woodford Square in Trinidad where Dr. Eric Williams lectured the public in pre-independent times about the importance of sovereignty.
We were waiting for a ceremony that was set up to honour and award Kamau Brathwaite.
Edward Kamau Brathwaite is an important poet for Barbados and the wider Caribbean. He was born Lawson Edward Brathwaite , but was given the name ‘Kamau’, which means ‘quiet warrior’, by the grandmother of Ngugi wa Thiong’o, a Kenyan writer.
Brathwaite, or rather his wife because he wasn’t there, received The Clement Payne Achievement award from the Pan-African Coalition of Organizations, an award that has been around since 2000.
The evening was made up dramatisations of his poetry by notable Barbadian poets like Margaret Gill, Icil Phillips and Ayesha Gibson-Gill just name a few.
I’m not biggest fan of his writing, but then I have only read some of his poetry and never seen any of his plays, however, my favourite performance that evening was Winston Farrell’s very dynamic dramatisation of Rites. Farrell set up two plastic chairs and then flitted from chair to chair to represent two different characters.
Rites, as Farrell described it in his brief introduction, is the ‘postmortem’ of a cricket match. What distinguished his performance over some of the others was movement, which created a believable immediacy. Some of the others performances seemed either flat or overdone. It’s really interesting to see how performance can bring a written piece to life. I also liked the fact that it was an open event in the square, so people walking by and could easily stop and watch the proceedings.
All in all, the evening was pretty interesting, and I look forward to going to more events like this one.