Saint Lucia
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Wall of China Can’t Touch Helen’s Bam-Bam” Wall!

Just a few days earlier I had seen some painters at work on the wall bordering that section of the John Compton Highway, opposite the Castries Comprehensive Secondary. My initial thought: What a brilliant idea! I wondered how many other places around Castries would receive similar treatment. That the sprucing up might have anything to do with a special occasion never entered my mind. Unlike most of the citizenry, I had never been big on carnival. 

I was going about my regular business when I bumped into a friend. His usual “everything is beautiful in its own way” smile was blinding. He was barely able to contain his excitement. “They painted it,” he said. “They painted it. It’s just beautiful!” He must’ve noted my perplexed demeanor. “The bum-bum wall, man. The Bam-Bamm Wall gonna be hot this year!”

For as long as we’d known each other, my friend had been a carnival reveler. It suddenly occurred to me that the nameless, recently repaired concrete wall that for years had served as a stage from which to perform mind-boggling gyrations to pulsating carnival sounds had now acquired a special status. From now on it would no longer be just another wall. No, sir. Henceforth, citizens of all ages would now refer to it as “our Bam-Bam wall!”

I couldn’t help wondering how many other names had been considered by the minds that finally settled for Bam-Bam Wall. I wondered, too, whose decision it was that the wall should be painted. And it what colors. In the hours before regular activities gave way to carnival, much of the talk around the city centered on one topicl. “Bam-bam wall come like Gay Pride Wall,” I heard a woman say to a fellow shopper at Massy’s. “I see an entire flag there.” For whatever reasons, the women fell over their shopping carts in a fit of small-girl giggles. As for social media, it seemed the Bam-Bam Wall was a topic far hotter than, as one subscriber put it, “other people’s business.”

Did my own eyes deceive me? Had the newly named Bam-Bam wall been hiding in plain sight all these years? Like so many citizens male and female, hiding in the closet?  Carnival Monday came and, as expected, so did countless pictures through the social media troughs, most of them of females flashing. Yes, a fair number of men also featured performing on the Bam-Bam wall. Not sure how many would call themselves “Ms. Grippy Grippy” but they certainly held their own alongside the women, “whining on the tippy-tippy” of the BBW.    

At lunchtime on Wednesday, following carnival, I tuned in late to Newsspin with Timothy Poleon. To my surprise, the BBW was the day’s topic. The several homicides of the last few weeks were apparently forgotten. Instead, there were the sermons based on the sanctity of the female body; God’s temple. There were also those who talked about the shocking sight of women flashing all they had that made them women. Most offensive to the eye were the female jumpers on the Bam-Bam Wall.

A small sampling of the day’s comments from Tim’s audience: “Lord have mercy on all journalists of this country . . . Jesus help our country . . . Everything that was wrong in the past is now right . . . If Jesus Christ had come back on Carnival Day, a lot of people would go to hell . . . The Bam-Bam Wall is a disgrace and so are the women who put on public display their every private nook and cranny. They should all be ashamed of themselves. They obviously have no pride, no respect for themselves.”

There were also those who thought “the ladies did justice to the BBW with its amazing artwork . . .  Our people are extremely talented and Carnival 2023 gave them a showroom.”

Others wanted Tim to explain “why was the wall painted in these colors . . . how can we accept this in our society?” A first-time listener to Newsspin would’ve imagined St. Lucia took its daily directions from the Vatican. Not many years ago, a local prime minister had acknowledged “there are three or four serial rapists in our midst”—with barely any public reaction. For all I know, the serial rapists continue to be among us, doing their horrid thing, without a care in the world. Yesterday a friend, while trying to convince me we were a nation of incurable hypocrites, observed that post-carnival callers to the various shows were far more offended by the display of rippling flesh on the Bam-Bam Wall than they were about several atrocities recently committed here. The shooting of a customs officer, for example.   

Another individual assured me the color of the Bam-Bam wall had everything to do with the private proclivities of certain well-placed carnival promoters. We agreed to disagree. Just when I thought I’d heard the last of our nation’s suddenly most famous wall, I had cause to think again when by chance I happened upon a video featuring a nicely dressed prayer warrior. The venue? Where else but the Bam-Bam Wall?

As if totally unaware of the noisy vehicular traffic that zoomed past her on the second, she addressed The Most High: “Father you have never lost a battle. Father, you are the one that was and the one that is to come. Lord, you are in charge of Saint Lucia and the world. Father, this wall was used for so much bacchanal. Oh God. Father, I pray you will take over dear lord, so that our women will not be exploited in this society, oh God. That whatever the enemy meant for evil, dear Lord, you will turn to good. Father, I beg you to take over this wall.”

Our archbishop had the latest word, by now common knowledge. His carnival review has appeared everywhere, including the devil’s playground, aka social media. If only similar appeals by his local agents were made to He who knows everything, He who can tell the dressed-up wolves from the sheep with His eyes closed, do you suppose those earlier-mentioned serial rapists would by now be behind bars? Would the weekly killings have stopped? Would the milk and honey have started flowing after so many dry years of broken promises? And if not milk and honey, how about WASCO water in every home?

Would our leaders have found a less provocative way to honor Helen’s Bam-Bas?