About Barbados

Barbados is a small island country in the south-eastern Caribbean Sea. Its neighbours include Saint Lucia, to the north, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, to the west, and Trinidad and Tobago to the south. It is a fairly flat island, but with Mount Hillaby rising via terraced tablelands to 336 metres. Barbados is surrounded by coral reefs.

Find out more about Barbados


Bajan English

Official language is English, with Bajan dialect widely spoken


287,370 (2022)


430 square kilometres

High Commissioner

H. E. Mr Milton Inniss



Joined Commonwealth

1966, following independence from Britain

Episode guests

Cyndi Celeste

Cyndi Celeste

Spoken Word Poet, Writer, and Storyteller

Cyndi Celeste (they/them) is a spoken word poet, writer, and storyteller based in Barbados. They are a three-time NIFCA award winning poet who has represented Barbados in poetry slams and festivals in Africa, Europe, and the United States. Their work has been recognised by NIFCA Winning Words, The Caribbean Writer literary journal, and Harvard Women in Business magazine. Locally, their work has also been centred in movements of national significance including the decommissioning of Lord Nelson’s statue in 2020 and Barbados’ transition to republican status in 2021. Most recently, they were a featured youth poet at the 40th Marché de la Poésie in Paris, France, and a resident of the Next Level Hip Hop and Cultural Diplomacy Programme in the United States.

Onstage, Cyndi has co-ordinated several community outreach projects in Barbados including a monthly youth-centred open mic night called Poetry Lime, after-school arts advocacy workshops, and community artist development workshops. Cyndi seeks to use the spoken word art form to entertain, educate, and empower their audiences. Their poetry explores themes of reclamation, repair, and remembrance, with special emphasis on issues of identity.

To Those Who Complain About Brain Drain

by Cyndi Celeste

Ain’t it funny how much this society
Likes to complain about brain drain?
Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t saying it ain’t a thing
But we ain’t the same people that does say
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again
And expecting the outcome to change?
Because the reality is that it ain’t gon’ change
Unless we actively try to change it

Until then it’s a stalemate and we stick
Because as my friend would say
We psychotic and keep falling fuh de same old tricks
But just because young people decide
We ain’t getting caught up in de mix
People does get vex and hit we wid politics
And call it “brain drain”
Give it a name that knows how to escape blame

But wait,
Lemme wheel back and start dis story from de top
Lemme pelt back to the time before all the “youth is the future”
And “follow your dreams” falsehoods get drop
Go back to when child first meets society
Acquaints themself with country’s history
And unknowingly grows up swaddled in small island mentality
Go back to when a child had dreams bigger than self
Dreams bigger than home
Dreams of changing the planet

When I was seven, I wanted to be an astronaut
To taste if the moon was really made of cheese or not
To get a chance to float among stars
Because anything was possible …
Until I got told to take my head out of the clouds

See, you tend to learn quickly
That in this society, you can’t be
Just anything you want to be
Come face to face with fine printed stipulations
Saying ‘be anything you want to be … within reason’
Make sure dem big dreams ain’t too big to fit small nation

So when I was 11, I had the good sense
To want to be a paediatrician
And somehow that always seemed like
A more widely accepted option
Built on the firm foundation of a good decision
To be an upstanding citizen making worthwhile contributions
To paradise island.

Dear person who complains about brain drain …

I dare you to assess objectively
Why our best and brightest shun their so-called duty
To give back to the community
Why the cream of the crop leave this country
The first opportunity they get
Cause I don’t really thing wunna get it yet

It sound real good for we to want society to progress
And to tell de youth to do their best
And to stand on political platforms for all to see
Rewarding greatness, but

Dear person who complains about brain drain,
We young people don’t get and wake up selfish
We ain’t born with entitlement wrapped around our necks
That ain’t how it does work, b – socialisation is a process
And society suckles the young
To the spirited song of “pride and industry”
So the first thing we are made to learn
Is that we live to serve our country

By the time I was 16,
I wanted to study speech therapy
But only because I recognised the need for it in my society
And I had learned how to serve Barbados wholeheartedly
You would be surprised to see
How many young people actually want to be
Exactly what is necessary for the good of this country

Because actually
All young people are not ungrateful
We don’t all think Barbados owes us
Any more than it already give
We are not all entitled
But I like I gin have to get controversial

Imagine how difficult it is to know where you stand
In a society that demands you to have a well-rounded education
But where surpassing expectation equates to overqualification

Where attempts at job market diversification
Are met with having to settle for positions outside your specialisation
Where intensive study and dedication
Never seem to be met with commensurate compensation
And where the notion that your value dictates your capital
Appears to be a myth
You could see how that ain’t an easy thing to deal with

I don’t care if I sound biased,
I don’t think we does get enough credit
And we too like to say ya should give Jack he jacket
Cause don’t care how ya try ya can’t get young people trick
We know we rights so good
Ya can’t catch we in de mix
We done succumbing to de cycle and start
Trying to break it
But… that is an uphill battle

When so many around us choose to be cattle
Or sit on the sidelines and wait for a miracle
Only to drop both blame and burden pun de same young people
Who dem like to say “dem cyaan know nuttin, dem now come”
Wuh wunna don’t see de problem?

Ort, lemme spell it out like dis
In case you haven’t noticed
Ya can’t train boomerang brains
In a society that only know how to throw
That don’t know how to catch interest and keep it

The reality is that Barbados
Ain’t exactly the land of opportunity
We only seem to turn potential energy
Into mediocrity, conformity,
Or intellectually exit strategy

If it was up to me, I would take innovation
Outta de names of any government ministry
Buncha bureaucracy got them
More like ministries of limitation
Because unless you are one of the few in 300,000
Who actually gets recognition for your vision
Your voice is lost in translation
Lost in transition
And all you could do is sit down home
And listen to every press conference politician
Tossing bout the words ‘brain drain’

But lemme tell you sein
Forward thinkers in a backwards glancing society
Can only breed stagnation through demotivation
If there is no room for imagination
This nation of righteous indignation
And self-serving administrations
Will never show appreciation for homegrown innovation
Advancement can’t come from myopic vision
But I find it interesting how when years later
A foreign organisation comes to pitch the same ideas
And government would sing their praise and admiration

Well den it ain’t no wonder
The intellectuals does leff and join them
Cause it seem like the only way to prove worth
And do credit to nation
Is to make every good idea sound less and less
Like it come from a Bajan

Sometimes I does want to know if dese governments
Does just got in self-important sycophants and tyrants
Who does stand up in parliament
And launch into so-called public development tirades
That does don’t be nothing more
Than self-aggrandizing self praise
A gaseous charade finding more ways
To put a plaster pun the problems we face

And it’s a shame
We does seem to want the best for Barbados
But in all the worst ways
We want to move forward but fight to stagnate
We pretend to understand the anatomy
Of the sacrifices that need to be made
But we can’t see why not having a
National stadium, or theatre, or art gallery space
Would make athletes and artists not want to stan bout hay
Can’t see how a ‘real job’ mindset
Does scare entrepreneurship away

We want to play at being a developed country
Without having the developed country infrastructure in place
But yeah, complain bout brain drain

As if the ways things is don’t start to explain
Why long-term thinking makes millennials
Think their best option is leaving
It ain’t mek sense trying to help somebody
When them clearly ain’t want helping

I know what I’m saying
Gon’ make some people uncomfortable
Some people gon’ think dat I real emotional
Or say: “Dis young girl real cynical”
I already get ask if I gon’ get deport
For causing so much trouble
But if you leave with nothing else
Take dis message from a millennial:
De sink could only drain
If some jackass pull de plug.