Freedom & Slavery in Barbados. It’s Not Black & White

By Abi King | Barbados

Feb 03

Slavery in BarbadosThe Club, Barbados

My room has the perfect view. At dawn, sparkle spills across the ocean as the sun breathes life into the space of another day. Before twilight, she blazes behind the choreography of clouds to the crescendo of sunset and throughout the day the water forms a canvas for me to watch the world go by. A small sailboat, gleaming white. A painted “tomahawk” chugging ahead by the efforts of a small motor and a man whose shoulders slope down and seem to have done so for year upon year.

I see jet skis. A man, alone. He wades between the rocks, clasping nets against his chest, searching for fish. Birds – small, brown and swift – flit in and out across the balcony, scattering sachets and their torn components across the floor at every startle.

I press my fingertips into the white crumbs they leave behind.

Sugar. The very crop that explains Barbados. Or at least that explains why we’re all here.

I look back out at the perfect view. And I think about this room.

Outside, there are two choices. Turn left to the groomed, tamed and tan beach of the celebrity-studded Sandy Lane Hotel. Turn right to reach across the rocks to a different stretch of sand.

I turned right.

I turned right

On the east coast of the island, waves pound the shore. Here on the west are all the best beaches. Here, the water seems to loosen its tie, slip off its shoes, reach for the paper and maybe even think about a cup of tea.

Barbados, it would seem, hits the laid back Caribbean vibe with a strong splash of British reserve. And I’m about to find out why.

Just footsteps from my room at The Club, I reach a special stretch of water. Still, stodgy and wearing more than a hint or two of brown it leads inland from the seafront to an incongruously named place called Holetown.

This spot, this saggy stretch of water, marks the sand where the British first arrived – and where I learned to readjust my opinion of colonial history.

The man to make that happen was Morris Greenidge, a man who researches Bajan history in depth and who leads walking tours in his spare time.

Slavery in Barbados

Here’s how the story usually goes. Colonial power arrives, slaughters the native population, rapes and pillages at whim, and ships in slaves from Africa.

Life is miserable.

Eventually, the oppressed revolt, kick out the imperial *******s and live happily ever after. Apart from in a few spots like India and Pakistan. And Northern Ireland and America. But we’re drifting away from the point…

And the point is this: that Barbados has a different story.

To be continued…

Barbados coast

Thank you to my lovely sponsors:

Flying out with Virgin Atlantic thanks to Tropical Sky, experts in luxury holidays and resorts.

Staying at “The Club Barbados Resort and Spa ” on the West coast of Barbados thanks to Elite Island Resorts.

Plus some added adventure courtesy of Barbados Tourism.

As to what I say here…Well, that’s never up for grabs. I say what I like. See the exciting disclosure doo-da…


About the Author

Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on

Hogga February 11, 2013

Can’t wait to read what the rest of the story is

Gayla~ February 17, 2013

I love the photos and really appreciate the nuggets of history. I’m going in search of part two for more on Barbados’ unique history…

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