Alright. It occurs to me that in my previous post I forgot to include a link to the Bussa statue. This might therefore be as good a place as any to outline the differences between official history and public memory as reflected in monuments and aesthetics in Barbados. I do this by exploring two major concepts inspired by Greenblatt’s resonance and wonder: visibility, and accessibility.
The Bussa Monument is located in the center of the JTC Ramsey roundabout, north of Bridgetown. In order to take pictures of it I had to sprint across eight lanes of heavy traffic, much to the amusement of my driver (ie, informant with a car). You can sort of get an idea of it here.
Now. It is considered an honor to be placed in the middle of a roundabout. After all, everyone can see you there. Bussa even “‘owns” the space, for lack of a better term. Almost everyone calls it the “Bussa Roundabout.” However, as visible as Bussa is he’s not exactly accessible. You can’t get up to see him up close, read the inscriptions or anything like that without taking your life into your own hands. Moreover, from a semiotic standpoint, he’s treated largely as a landmark. My informants told me people will say things like “meet me at Bussa” or “drop me off at Bussa.” This Bussa is entirely detached from his history.
Meanwhile, Admiral Nelson is both visible and accessible. He’s right in downtown Bridgetown so you can’t miss him. Go on, click on the link. I’ll wait.
All those cars lined up around Heroes Square (formerly called Trafalgar Square)? Those are cabs. That’s how touristy the area is. The building in the background that says Cheffette? That’s one of Barbados’ major fast food joints. Their potato roti is delicious, BTW. You can get right up to the statue, read the inscriptions, sit on the pedestal as you wait for people, and on and on.
It’s probably not a coincidence then that Admiral Nelson and then Trafalgar Square featured so strongly in the “Little England” tour that Barbados offered English tourists. It wrapped up with a photo up right in front of that statue.
What do you all think might be the historic implications of this? What effects on Bajan history, considering the “spaces” Bussa and Nelson occupy? How do you think this might reflect the “historic spaces” Bussa and Nelson exist in?