Bim, Bimshire or Derock, Barbados Pocket Guide

Bim, Bimshire or DeRock - our Island home Barbados!

There are a number of theories around as to how the island got the name Barbados. These theories range from trees found around the island that have their roots falling to the ground like heavily bearded men, theories about the early inhabitant Carib Indians being men with beards and finally the foam created from breaking waves off the islands coast giving the impressions of a beard to travelers arriving by sea.


However, did you know the island also has a couple different names it is affectionately known as by it's inhabitants? Ever heard of "Bim", "Bimshire" or "De Rock". If you are a Barbadian you have for sure used one of these words already to describe your island home. If you are a visitor, feel free to get into island life and let the world know you are going to BIM.


There is no conclusive explanation about how these affectionate names came about, however there are some theories.


1. The close connection to England

Some of the more commonly accepted reasons include the fact that due to the closeness of the islands inhabitants to England, and the English Influence on the Island the word was derived from Barbados being like a county of England hence the "shire" ending like "Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Gloucestshire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingtonshire, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire".


2. Friends of Liet. Gen. William Byam

Another theory is that the word Bim is derived as a corruption of the surname Byam. Lieut. General William Byam was a royalist leader faithful to the crown during the Civil War which started in England in 1642. Following the civil war, many royalist fled to the Caribbean, were put in prison or sold into service. After the war started Byam was put into prison in the Tower and later accepted a pass to be exiled in Barbados. It is noted that very soon after being in Barbados large tracks of land was conferred unto him as well as the post of Master of the Ordnance, he also married the daughter of a past Governor and was held in high regard. The number of Royalist in the island grew dramatically during this time. So much so that in 1651 Parliament in England decided they would need to take back the island of Barbados. After a short stand off and blockade of Barbados the royalist were again defeated by the British Navy. This time Byam was banished from Barbados and retired to Suriname. It is said that followers of Byam were also known as Bims and hence Barbadians who were mostly loyal to the King became known as people from Bim or Bimshire.


3. Word meaning "my people" used by the Igbo People in Africa

The National Cultural Foundation offers another explanation proposed by Dr. Richard Allsopp. He summarizes that the word Bim was used by many slaves on the island and could be derived from the phrase "bi mu" or "bem". These are all phrases used by the Igbo people in southeastern areas of Nigeria which means "my people". The Igbo people are one of the largest and most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria. They speak Igboid languages and dialects. Today, a majority of them speak English as well as the results of British Colonization in Africa. It is accepted today that many of the Igbo people were spread over Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean due to the effects of the Atlantic Slave Trade and migration.


The Word Bim in the Dictionary

The words Bim is recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary described as a noun with the meaning "a native or inhabitant of Barbados”. The origin states “around the mid 19th century: of unknown origin".


Bim in Barbados Island Music

The word Bim is also used as the subject of a song written by the Merry Men (a popular band in the 70’s who's "island" music became very popular especially in Canada) which asks God to Bless Bim on Independence Day. Music is a huge part of Barbados culture, therefore, a song about loving Bim is greatly encouraged. A sample of the words follow:


Lyrics to God Bless Bim on Independence Day

God Bless Bim on Independence day
on Independence day
on Independence day

God Bless Bim on Independence day
God Bless bim we hope and pray

Lets all sing a song of praise to Bim
Song of praise to Bim
Song of praise to Bim

Lets all sing a song of praise to Bim on Independence day

Barbados land of Sun
Barbados land of Sea
Barbados means the world to me.


While we may never know the conclusive true story behind how the words Bim and Bimshire came about Barbadians use them with affection when speaking about our island. As a guest to Barbados feel free to get into the local lingo and speak like a Bajan.

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