Errol Barrow Refused to be JOSHUA

Extracted from Open Letter to the Prime Minister: The People’s Price Tag on a Republic posted by flyonthewall.
Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow

Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow

Barbadians love their biblical stories and heroes, and they are adept at finding parallels in their own time. The story that resonates most strongly for black Barbadians, as indeed it has done for black Christians everywhere, is the freeing of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. It is not by coincidence that Grantley Adams was called the “Black Moses”.

But as we know, while Moses led his people out of Egypt, it was not his destiny to take them into the Promised Land. That responsibility – that privilege – would fall to Joshua. It would be Joshua whose army defeated the Canaanites; it would be he who would blow his horn to blast the walls of Jericho and, one by one, also bring down the other citadels of Canaan.

In 1966, there were many Barbadians who saw Errol Barrow as Joshua and were eager for the sound of his horn. The citadels would fall and the Canaanites would be routed, and within the context of Barbados at that time it’s not hard to figure out who the “Canaanites” were.

Errol Barrow shunned that role and we should all thank him for it. Had he embraced it, Barbados today would be another bankrupt experiment in democracy, a dysfunctional little rock in the Atlantic. He left the “Canaanites” in place in their citadels (i.e. White-run commercial enterprises) and set out to build a nation that would accommodate them.

I believe he knew that, in time, there would be more Israelites inside the citadels than Canaanites. What is more, they would build their own. Besides, he needed those White-run commercial enterprises – those citadels – to function well to help fund the vision he had for Barbados.

And Barrow was very adept at drawing on the talents and experience of those White business leaders. He knew that these men, despite their colour, would help him build a new Barbados. He asked them to serve and they did. What is more, they did it for free.

As I see it, Barrow chose the path of evolution rather than revolution, even though he knew it would be a far more gradual process than many wished it to be. And he made that path attractive by paving it with education and making it smoother to travel on. Across the Atlantic, in Africa, other leaders in newly independent countries chose differently.

There, a plethora of highly destructive “Joshuas” held Africa back for decades. Fifty years on, there is hardly a country on that continent in which democracy is anything but a thin coat of varnish.

Errol Barrow wanted to build a more equitable society but not by fire. What many people don’t appreciate is that, in the social hierarchy of Barbados – at least the Black hierarchy – he was an aristocrat. And aristocrats tend to value rather than despise order and stability.

He was an international thinker, extremely well educated and with a world view honed by participation in a world war. And on November 30, 1966, he knew EXACTLY how precarious his country’s future was.

Contrary to what some may believe Britain did not resist the idea of Independence for Barbados. What concerned the British Government of the day was that, having helped push the “Good Ship Barbados” out to sea, they would have to come rescue us as we foundered within sight of shore. Errol Barrow must have had the same fear. He knew that if it all went pear-shaped Barbados was well and truly f—-d.

That things did not go pear-shaped is due to his leadership and a vision that went far beyond politics. I have heard it said that he was autocratic, but in the early days of Independence he probably needed to be. (Besides, I have this said of other prime ministers we have had. From all accounts, Tom Adams was no “sweet bread” and neither was Owen Arthur.)

I’m grateful to Errol Barrow, and to the other leaders that Barbados produced since 1966. We may say they were flawed, but which of us isn’t. Fifty years on, I believe many Barbadians would willingly settle for some of that old-fashioned autocracy instead of what currently exists. We are drowning is politicians while starved for statesmen.

The difference between the two is this: a statesman thinks of the next generation; a politician thinks of the next election [BU’s Emphasis].

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158 Comments on “Errol Barrow Refused to be JOSHUA”

  1. Well Well & Consequences January 20, 2016 at 9:47 AM #

    Lol….hope ya slept well Vincent.


  2. Kammie Holder January 21, 2016 at 7:21 AM #

    Mirror Image “Your mirror image of yourself is that your ambition in life is to and get away from this country. And we could call ourselves an independent nation? When all we want do is to go and scrub somebody’s floors and run somebody’s elevator or work in somebody’s store or drive somebody’s taxi in a country where you catching your royal when the winter sets in? What kind of mirror image do you have of yourself? Let me tell you what kind of mirror image I have of you, or what the Democratic Labour Party has of you. The Democratic Labour Party has an image that the people of Barbados would be able to run their own affairs, to pay for the cost of running their own country, to have an education system which is as good as what can be obtained in any industrialised country, anywhere in the world.” Prime Minister Errol Barrow addressed a political rally on May 13, 1986 where he introduced the 27 candidates for the next general election. –

    See more at:


  3. Kammie Holder January 21, 2016 at 7:23 AM #

    ERROL WALTON BARROW began his political career as a member of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) 36 years ago, but when he died, he was a “Dem” and the BLP’s staunchest opponent. –

    See more at:


  4. Gabriel January 21, 2016 at 11:19 AM #

    There is no way colonialism would survive in today’s Information Age.Part of the mystique was the ignorance,in church and in state.Not so with today’s youth.


  5. flyonthewall January 21, 2016 at 12:48 PM #


    “Thank you very much for your extremely interesting post. Your adoration for the late great Errol Barrow was a joy to behold.

    I am sure that you would agree with me that it is difficult to remain objective on a subject especially when the writer is infatuated with the cult of celebrity.

    Having read your article it confirmed my hypotheses as to why the spirit of revolution has rarely taken root on the island. I take the opposite view to you. I found your limp wristed views disconcerting and your views on Africa highly offensive.”

    Obviously you knew him well and can correct my lack of objectivity. As for the revolution, why don’t you come back and start it?


  6. balance January 22, 2016 at 4:37 AM #

    ac January 18, 2016 at 8:23 AM #

    “@balance ..i believe his Mirror Image Speech was a Truth . A Truth worth repeating”

    Worth repeating I suppose you would say as well is Mr Barrow’s remarks in Parliament that only he and Bree St John had breeding because they were from plantation stock. Was that the mirror image he had of himself?


  7. ac January 22, 2016 at 6:04 AM #

    @ balANCE Barrow ay have said many things but the truth of the matter that the Mirror Image Speech is distinctive and underscores the psyche of a barbados which remains prevalent then as well as now
    On close examination of the Barbadian psyche one would still find barabados have a love /hate relationship with self and country which for the most part always find them being driven by others rather than being the drivers of their own destiny


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