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Who’s the “Mom” of that distinctive aggregation of people who we all know of because the nation of Barbados? Properly, the time period “Mom of the Nation” is an honorific title that’s given to a girl who is taken into account to be the driving pressure behind the institution of “her” nation, and who has made a monumental sacrifice (even a “blood sacrifice” of her very life) for her folks.
And so it was and is with the nation of Barbados.
The title of “Mom” of the nation have to be utilized to that feminine historic character who performed a essential position in giving start to the very risk, the very seed or root, of the nation that we Barbadians possess immediately.
You see, over the primary two centuries of the historical past of Barbados it was troublesome to even conceive of the “risk” of a Barbadian nation, just because Barbados was a “slave society” by which a sizeable majority of its little kids have been denied the standing of human beings and have been held by their enslavers to be mere soul-less chattels or issues.
Thus, if a majority of a individuals are not even thought-about to be human beings by the governmental and official buildings of a society, how can one speak sensibly or meaningfully about being a nation? No! To ensure that a nation to be established in Barbados slavery first needed to be abolished.
And subsequently, these historic personalities who performed the essential roles in hanging the dying blow to the evil system of slavery must be thought-about the seminal figures who planted the very seeds of Barbadian nationhood.
Our seek for the “Mom” of the nation should subsequently take us again to the nice early nineteenth century slave riot that irretrievably set in practice the processes that led ineluctably to the abolition of slavery in 1834— the 1816 Bussa Riot!
It’s subsequently comparatively straightforward for us to establish the “Father” of our nation. Clearly, that title should go to the Proper Glorious Normal Bussa, the Commander of the revolutionary forces of 1816, and an historic determine who has been conferred with the title of Nationwide Hero of Barbados.
However upon whom ought to the title of “Mom” of the nation be conferred? Properly, within the 1818 historic doc entitled “Report from a Choose Committee of the Home of Meeting appointed to inquire into the origin, causes and progress of the late Rebel” — the Bussa Riot— we learn the next testimony of “Robert”, an enslaved man hooked up to Simmons Plantation:
“………..a while the final yr, he heard the negroes have been all to be freed on New-year’s Day. That Nanny Grigg (a negro girl at Simmons, who stated she might learn) was the primary one who advised the Negroes at Simmons so: and he or she stated she had learn it within the Newspapers, and that her Grasp was very uneasy at it: that she was at all times speaking about it to the negroes, and advised them that they have been all damned fools to work, for that she wouldn’t, as freedom they have been positive to get.
That, a couple of fortnight after New-year’s Day, she stated the Negroes have been to be freed on Easter-Monday, and the one method to get it was to combat for it; and the way in which they have been to do, was to set fireplace, as that was the way in which they did in Saint Domingo.”
Right here then we see rising from the historic file the determine of a mature literate enslaved Creole black girl who labored within the family of Simmons Plantation within the parish of St. Philip, and who was clearly the revolutionary ideologue of the insurgent forces — a revolutionary ideologue who was dedicated to a army answer to terminating the evil system of slavery, and who was relentless in spreading that message to her fellow enslaved brothers and sisters.
The truth that she was referred to as “Nanny” is just not essentially suggestive of an occupation as a nursemaid or a youngsters’s caregiver, however might communicate to her ethnic identification.
You see, within the case of the Jamaican “Nanny” – Nanny of the Maroons – the Encyclopedia of African-American Tradition and Historical past informs us that the title “Nanny” was derived from the Akan phrase “Nanani”, that means “ancestress” or “mom”, and subsequently is suggestive of an Akan ethnic ancestry.
Thus, our Nanny Grigg could properly have been a Barbados-born “creole” girl of Akan (current day Ghana) ethnicity.
What we do know for a reality is that Normal Bussa’s revolutionary troops did faithfully adhere to Nanny Grigg’s admonition to start a battle aimed toward securing freedom for themselves on Easter- Monday of 1816 and to make use of arson as a main methodology of revolt!
Undoubtedly, as a literate, properly knowledgeable and clever girl, Nanny Grigg would have recognized that the possibilities of success have been slim, and that the opportunity of defeat and dying was very actual.
In any case, the revolutionary troops weren’t solely going through a variety of properly armed native parish militias, but additionally the would possibly of the British Imperial Military stationed at St Ann’s fort on the Garrison in St Michael.
This can be very doubtless subsequently that Nanny Grigg had her eyes set on a extra distant and futuristic purpose: that she was hanging a blow towards Slavery and making the final word sacrifice so that future generations of black or African Barbadians would now not should stay in a situation of enslavement.
And it is extremely doubtless that she did make the final word sacrifice, for not solely was the Riot put down – largely by way of the efforts of the skilled black troopers of the British West India Regiment – however the racist white parish militias then proceeded to inflict a regime of terror on the black inhabitants, burning and in any other case destroying the homes and property of blacks and executing a whole lot of black girls, youngsters and males.
We don’t know for positive, however it’s doubtless that Nanny Grigg both perished within the preventing or was subsequently executed – maybe hanged, beheaded and hung up on a publish – in gentle of her position as a significant chief of the Riot.
However whether or not or not she misplaced her life, who can doubt that her braveness, activism and sacrifice performed a significant position in bringing down the evil system of slavery and hastening the day of the emergence of a real Barbadian nation? The fact is that the Bussa Riot despatched such a forceful message of uncompromising hostility to Slavery that in 1819, a full three years after the Riot, the Governor of Barbados, Lord Combermere, was nonetheless writing to the English Colonial Workplace warning them that “the general public thoughts (in white Barbados) is ever tremblingly alive to the risks of revolt.”
It isn’t stunning subsequently that when – in 1833 – the British Secretary of State for the colonies launched the Emancipation Act within the British Parliament, he expressed the view that “they have been compelled to behave; for they felt that take what course they may, it couldn’t be attended with better evil than any try and uphold the prevailing state of issues.”
Thus, it was actually the brave army activism of the Bussas and Nanny Griggs that was in the end accountable for the abolition of slavery.
And so, if Nanny Grigg is the “Mom of the Barbadian Nation”, then absolutely she have to be entitled to be elevated to the standing of Nationwide Hero of Barbados and permitted to take her rightful place beside Proper Glorious Bussa, the “Father” of our nation.
At the moment, Barbados possesses just one feminine Nationwide Hero to 9 male Nationwide Heroes. It’s subsequently time for a better gender steadiness, and there’s none extra deserving than Nanny Grigg to assist us obtain that better gender steadiness.
David Comissiong is Barbados’ Ambassador to Caricom.