Friday, 15 June 2007

1976, Grovelling and West Indian Pride

I went to therapy today without my cane! I felt like new! I have to concentrate so I don’t limp and for the most part I walk quite normal. The stairs were a bit tricky and it will take a bit more practice before I can use them with confidence. All in all, I was quite pleased with myself! The next step will be to wear another shoe besides a sneaker but that will entail doing away with the ankle strap as it is bulky and can only be worn with the sneaker.

1976 was an eventful year: Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and Chairman Mao both died that year; Pol Pot became Prime Minister of Cambodia; earthquakes in Guatemala, Honduras, China, Iran and Philippines killed and injured hundreds of thousands; the Soweto riots erupted in South Africa; the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was officially proclaimed; military coups occurred in Argentina and Uruguay; Jimmy Carter defeated President Gerald Ford to win the US Presidency; the summer and winter Olympics were held in Montreal, Canada and Innsbruck, Austria respectively; July witnessed the US Bicentennial; Trinidad and Tobago became a Republic replacing the Queen of England with an elected President as their Head of State; Air Cubana Flight 455 was blown up off the coast of Barbados shortly after take off in a CIA-linked terrorist attack by anti-Castro Cuban exiles; the Barbados Labour Party led by Tom Adams defeated the Errol Barrow led Democratic Labour Party in elections; Alex Haley’s Roots, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Autumn of the Patriarch, Alice Walker’s Meridian, Maya Angelou’s Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, James Baldwin’s The Devil Finds Work and Ishmael Reed’s Flight to Canada were published.

In cricket, 1976 is remembered for the West Indian cricket team’s tour to England. As I have written before, for the Caribbean the game of cricket is much more than a sport and is intertwined in the social, economic and political landscape of these small islands. Issues of race and nationalism are intrically linked to the success of the West Indian team and there are not many people in the Caribbean who would deny the feelings of racial and national pride whenever our team wins. In May 1976, the West Indies arrived in England and in the build up to the first test, the English captain Tony Greig give an interview to the BBC in which he boldly stated that his team would make the West Indians grovel. The comments, coming from a white South African, severely offended the region and its team and only served to motivate the players. Tony Greig’s team was severely thrashed and he was subjected to huge amounts of barracking from the West Indian fans in the grounds as well as special targeting by the West Indian bowlers. By the end of the series it was Greig who was doing the grovelling- on the afternoon of the fourth day of the last test, he walked over to boundary, sunk to his knees and grovelled to the West Indian fans in the stands. BBC has a feature on the 1976 tour here and also did two interesting articles which can be accessed here and here.


I came across another article in the UK Guardian about the 1976 tour here.


Colonise This! said...

Really glad you are doing much better.

So funny, I was reminiscing and writing (in a slightly disjointed manner) about (among other things) the mid and late 1970's Barbados this weekend.

In doing so I realised how traumatising that peroid was for me. I was a child and was quite traumatised by that Cubana almost landed on our roof (it seemed to me) - we lived near the UWI at that time. Traumatised by images of Jonestown as well. Never touched anything grape flavoured or looking after that.

I’ll tell you a little secret about the 1970’s as well, my father and a bunch of leftie UWI professors and trade unionists tried to get a third political party off the ground. They ran in that election you mentioned and got creamed. I use to listen on the steps to all the meetings they held in the lower part of our house. Its amazing how much you can absorb even if you don’t fully understand. I was stuffing envelopes and hanging posters when my friends were playing with doll or riding their bikes or whatever. That whole little political venture ruined our lives on one level, but it completely shaped my politics even before I really understood what politics were.

Loved the cricket story. Pity we don’t seem to care about being thrashed by South African’s or anyone else anymore.


individuality1977 said...

The 2 party system is too entrenched in the Barbadian political system for a third party to mount a realistic challenge. Not to mention, Barbadians are generally conservative people who prefer not to challenge the status quo so leftist politics would never appeal to a large section of the population.

Windies cricketers have for a long time stopped caring. When South Africa was readmitted to international cricket in 1992 and played the West Indies for the first time in the 92 World Cup and beat us, the captain Richie Richardson stated that it was just another cricket match. That comment still makes my blood boil to this day. He was just to shallow to recognise the significance of the West Indies playing a white South African team for the first time!

Colonise This! said...

Wow!!! What a comment!!! No sense of history or pride. By the way, I stumbled across a very interesting article sometime ago about a West Indies rebel team that went to South Africa during Apartheid and what became of them. Might have been on BBC so you may already have seen it. If I find it I'll send it.

Re:Barbados politics. I agree. Barbados had only been independent for 11 years so I guess they didn't have the perspective we have now ... or perhaps they were just optimists.