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Live and let live

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Some fifty years ago, ah group of English tourists passing thru de Leeward side of de island, made ah stop at Bottle’n Glass in Barrouallie/Bagga. Ah think dey got excited when dey heard dat de folks in Bagga had caught an offspring of de famous killer whale, Moby Dick. De visitors were given ah “hands-on” demonstration of our primitive style of extracting and bottling Omega 8 aka Black Fish Oil. Dey even tasted de freshly cooked Black Fish meat.

But while in Bagga, dey saw some kids on de beach picking up ah strange looking creature, and eating it wid ah passion. “Gosh those kids are having ah feast on those creatures, what are dey eating?” dey asked. One ah de kids buss ah big laugh and said : “Ah sea cock-ah-roach!”

De slaughtering of Black Fish Whale did not make Headlines in de British Press, but “Starving children in St Vincent eating cockroaches” was all over Britain. An irate Hudson “Pet” Soso now deceased, took to de local Press. We learned from Soso’s piece dat de Sea Cockroach was ah member of de Phylum Anthropoba family of lobsters, crabs, shrimps and sea cockroach, and dey were all nutritious. But de damage was already done. We got as much negative publicity den, as de unfortunate harpooning of Flipper de Porpoise aka “man’s friend” in full view of de “ Special People,Wail Watchers” two weeks ago!

But “out of evil cometh good!” De Cock-ah-roach story caught de attention of ah group of British citizens who read thru de problem and sought to correct it, dey started ah Fund “Save de children of St Vincent” and within a year another group of British engineering students built us at Camden Park Agricultural Station, ah modern Pasteurization Milk Plant. It was like more milk more protein foh de kids.

But Lie-Za reminds me dat de Whale has always caused sensational headlines. 12, 000 years ago, it was all over de Nineveh Times newspaper, dat de prophet Jonah had disobeyed God’s command and was punished foh three days in de belly of ah whale. However, de Whale for its rescue mission, received royal treatment by proclamation: “ No more killing of Whales in Nineveh!” Everything was fine until Herman Melville’s story of dis destructive killer whale name Moby Dick made headlines. And everybody took to de sea again to deal wid dis Moby Dick Whale. De whale story is an international debate dat affects our Tour-is-him in SVG. Imagine ah Whaler after days, sometimes weeks of watching and waiting, he finally strikes ah Humpback Whale or Pilot Whale (Black Fish). He is confronted by an angry Tourist, who came all de way from Germany to have fun watching de Whale do dey thing. De Whaler had ah story too. He explained dat his catch provides meat and Omega 8 (Whale Oil) foh de whole community. Every ounce ah meat will be eaten either fresh or dried and used foh months after. He tells him furthermore, dat he has ah sister in de US who has ah Cholesterol problem, she takes no medication, except de Whale Oil and de corned Black Fish he sends to her. Den he told de Tourist: “What is Fun foh you watching Whale is survival foh me and me family!” If yuh don’t want me to kill Whales, provide me wid ah Milk Paturization Plant sorry, good boats to fish like de Tie-One-knees and Jah-pon-knees; or better still give me boats to carry yuh and other Wail Watchers out to see. Live and let live man!”And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.

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