Just how much of the words to the lyrics of this song is true? Only those who were actually associated with the strikes and with an unbiased point a view might know. I have adapted a report by Paul Eklud on his take about the song and what he believes were true events. You can read this after the words from the song. Listen to the song here.

"Joshua Gone Barbados".

Cane standing in the fields getting old and red.

Lot of misery in Georgetown, three men lying dead.

And Joshua, head of the government, he say strike for better pay

 Cane cutters are striking, Joshua gone away.

Chorus: Joshua gone Barbados, staying in a big hotel. People on St. Vincent they got many sad tales to tell.

Sugar mill owner told the strikers, I don't need you to cut my cane

Bring in another bunch of fellows, strike be all in vain.

Get a bunch of tough fellows, bring 'em from Sion Hill

Bring 'em in a bus to Georgetown, know somebody get killed

And Sonny Child the overseer, I swear he's an ignorant man

Walking through the canefield, pistol in his hand

But Joshua gone Barbados, just like he don't know, People on the Island, they got no place to go.

Police giving protection, new fellows cutting the cane

Strikers can't do nothing, strike be all in vain

And Sonny Child he curse the strikers, wave his pistol 'round

They're beating Sonny with a cutlass, beat him to the ground.

There's a lot of misery in Georgetown, you can hear the women bawl, Joshua gone Barbados, he don't care at all.

Cane standing in the fields getting old and red

Sonny Child in the hospital, pistol on his bed

I wish I could go to England, Trinidad or Curacao

People on the Island they got no place to go.

This report was taken from an assessment by Paul Eklud.

When I looked carefully at the lyrics they struck me as being out of character, but to a large extent they are accurate. Vivian Child, who was, at the time, a government doctor married to Sonny Child, tells us that although the strike was not on the sugar estate Sonny and his sister owned, he had organized the landowners to confront the strikers. Sonny was impetuous and always arrived early, so he was alone when he confronted the strikers and was, as the song says, "beat to the ground" by the flats of the cutlasses. By the time he got out of Kingstown hospital two weeks later things had settled down and the sugar was being harvested.

Joshua, was swept into office in 1960 when England's move to dump some of her poor small islands. In the year following his inauguration land taxes rose astronomically. These new levies merely reduced the comfortable profits of the plantation owners but were ruinous to the poor whose property was seized daily. Joshua's biggest campaign pitch had been to back a strike by the island's biggest labor and voting force - the miserably paid cane cutters. When the showdown came, in the spring of 1962, he simply got out on his yacht, and split for Barbados. His time in high office had given him new insights into the Problems of Sugar Mill Owners, the Complexities of Free Enterprise, the Realities of Diminishing British Aid. He was tired. He was chicken. So the government did nothing.

Strike breakers were recruited in the tough Sion Hill section above Kingston and brought up to Georgetown in wooden-sided buses. When the new men began work, fights broke out, sometimes brother against brother or son against father. Police were brought in to protect the strikebreakers, who could cut only in guarded fields. Every man carried his razor-sharp machette/ cutless, and many on both sides were drunk.

Sonny Childs, the head overseer and a very unpopular white man with more courage than brains, walked into one of the unprotected fields and came out feet first. The leaders of the strike were quickly arrested, the others dispersed, and word came from the hospital that Sonny had sworn to shoot the men who had beaten him. Their strike failed.

What sounded wrong about the lyrics also sounded wrong about this description. "When the showdown came, in the spring of 1962, he simply got out on his yacht, and split for Barbados.?" That did not sound characteristic of Joshua, who didn't even have a car and rode to work in one of the "wooden-sided buses" if he wasn't walking or riding his bicycle.

A friend told about reading the newspaper for a nearly blind Joshua when he was a child. Joshua was living in a rundown house but refused to move to the new apartment his son had built. He would say "I reach out this arm to get tea, and this arm to get sugar. Any place else and I'd die." One of the comments on Joshua on the internet said: "Ebenezer Theodore Joshua was very much loved by the poor and hard-working people of his homeland.  He is regarded by many Vincentians as a champion of the working class and is a national hero of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  As Chief Minister, he defended the rights of Vincentians and spoke out against outside and colonial rule.

Unlike many Caribbean politicians, Joshua died poor. So it is very unlikely that Joshua had a "yacht" to slip away on. I got an email from Vere Palmer, which said "You are correct: Joshua didn't have a boat, but one of his ministers did. Flick Haynes - I think that’s his name, lived in the Calliqua area, and later retired in Barbados." One correspondent on the internet said: " My late father Dr. Richard Bond paid Ebenezer Joshua to visit Barbados once for a regional agronomy meeting and so I wonder if that is the visit the American singer is complaining about." Since Joshua was as interested in getting St. Vincent out of sugar, that would have been an appropriate meeting to go to. It would have been in character for Joshua, who had no money of his own, not to spend government money on such a trip. It is also entirely possible that Joshua would have gone on an inter-island freight schooner rather than some more expensive transportation.

But it is less likely that the trip the elder Bond paid for was the one referred to in the song. 1962 was a bad year for labor in the British Caribbean. There were labor disturbances in various places in the Caribbean and Latin America. But the colonies in the Lesser Antilles had been organized in a federation as preparation for independence. Joshua was a fiercely anti-colonial politician and in favor of the federation. Unfortunately, Jamaica and Trinidad realized that they had the strongest economies of the ten islands, so they would be providing the most support for the federation and getting the least out of it. They pulled out of the federation.

The British dissolved the federation in May of 1962, but before they did the "Little 8", the federation without Trinidad and Jamaica, held a meeting in Barbados just at the time that the strike occurred. Given a choice, I believe Joshua would have gone to Barbados to try to preserve what he saw as the path to independence rather than use the very limited powers of a colonial administration to prolong a hopeless strike.

At this point we may argue over the decision in terms of the long view, and St. Vincent didn't become independent until 1979, but I don't think the situation was one of Joshua heartlessly abandoning the strikers for his own pleasure and profit. It was a conflict between two "goods" and the strikers had the lower priority. In the end no one won.

However, while there are incorrect details, and the attitude toward Joshua is likely to be from a leftwing position the song is not grossly inaccurate. Joshua was trying to find a practical solution to a problem that was bigger than a single Caribbean nation could handle - a situation that is not unlike the global economy today - and that can easily be seen as a betrayal from an ideological leftwing position.

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