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Banana art should be a national pride

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Editor: In the 20th century, two amazing things transpired. Firstly, the invention of the only musical instrument called the “Steel Pan” by Simon Spree from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Likewise, the most creative art form termed the “Banana Art” by Ras Hailu Teferi, alias ‘Bandi Payne’ emanating out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Pathetic to say, it appears as though the leading representatives of our nation have failed to hold such a remarkable talent with high esteem. The Banana Art has in a minute way achieved international acclaim. Notable Presidents prize this art at their homes – Ronald Reagan-USA; Kenneth Kaunda-Zambia; Lucinchi-Venezuela. Several Ambassadors also collected pictures from the Banana Art Gallery in Ethiopia, for example, Dominik Langenbacher of Switzerland.

The Banana Art is a reflection of the people and country of St Vincent and the Grenadines. It is the concerted ideas and constructive criticism of the public. All their opinions and comments were documented by Bandi and transformed into reality. At the epoch of this unique skill, I approached Bassy Alexander, Blazer Williams, Peggy Hull, Mike Browne, Adrian Fraser, Parnel Campbell and Andrew Cummings for substantial advice. Their inputs were encouraging and helped to fortify the first steps of my efforts. Without relentless practices, I brought the virtues to the world in 1980.

In the sphere of 35 years, I discovered five textures of black and four types of white. (Note: a painting set only has one black and one white colour). This discovery is an important attribute that qualifies the banana materials as one of the most powerful mediums. Scientists had also mentioned that the latex from the plant, once dried or hardened, is tougher than the toughest plastic in the world. This then attests to why the “banana art” is self-preserved. Our parents used to warn us not to play next to banana trees with school uniforms or Sunday school clothes on. The result is that when the stain gets on your garments no soap, chemical or detergent can remove it.

The “banana art” must be profoundly considered as a National Pride. Foreigners visit countries for many reasons and purposes; for example – to see rare animals, the wonder of nature and diverse cultures, and search for unique arts. Therefore the Prime Minister and Ministry of Culture being farsighted must promote “banana art” as a fervent tourism attraction. On entering the Deep Water Pier or Airport, information about the ‘banana art” should be highlighted, I suggest a Banana Art Gallery built or an area allocated for this exceptional skill. Try and visualize this ambience with banana floor mats, walls and ceilings of the same woven materials; banana table mats crowned with luscious banana cakes and bread; ice creams, milk shakes, porridge, chips, fried bananas and other delicacies of the fruit. In the garden, you are shaded by banana umbrellas and served by waiters wearing banana plaited hats and skirts … Gosh!!!! What a scenic atmosphere. In truth, if I was from another country with such an unparalleled skill, my portriat would be on stamps and images appearing on posters at strategic places. But as the saying goes —- “a prophet is not recognised in his own homeland”.

Why are we drowning such a peculiar heritage? Banana Art is one of our national treasures that needs to be preserved and included in our school’s curriculum. St Vincent and the Grenadines, the origin of such an incredible skill cannot deny generations to come, “the technique”. Banana art competitions should be staged annually. (NOTE —- the first Bible in Lebanon was written on banana material at a place called Bybilos. They are still proud of their history.)

I give thanks to Nzimbu for batting on in my absence. Honour must be given to my right hand – Kendal “Bird I” Charles. He had magic in his hands. —- I recommend him to the Ministry of Culture to blend any Banana Picture, once the designs are provided for him.

Now, to those in Authority who are supposed to record patriotic achievements —- What is your next step? Do you intend to merit the “Banana Art” or melt it? God and history will record your decision.

I am that I am

Love & Fire

Bandi Payne

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