The blogmaster in between the hustle and bustle of yesterday was able to listen to a few minutes of The Peter Wickham Show. Piquing the interest was an exchange with a caller who sought to raise the issue of Black enfranchisement. Peter Wickham exposing his naïveté was unable to fathom- despite the caller’s best effort to explain- how a country that is Black majority finds its people owning a disproportionate amount of wealth and economic influence in the country, a state brought forward from being an enslaved people.
The argument that because Barbados is majority Black means it inevitably empowers Blacks in Barbados to be craftsmen of their fate is simplistic. Regarding the financial sector Wickham thought he was stoutly defending his perspective by mentioning that bank managers are almost 100% Black. He failed to mention all banks in Barbados are foreign owned and therefore Black managers are binded to policies handed to them. He mentioned the credit unions and other non bank entities that are Black owned. He failed to mention that same institutions have to comply to regulations of international agencies to ensure good standing.
What about the business sector? What is the concentration of ownership of the tourism sector? After answering these questions- who owns the significant interest in retail (food and appliances) sector, who controls distributive trade in Barbados. Do we have active agencies that lend and support entrepreneurs and startup businesses in a meaningful way? What about export earning businesses? What is the predominant ownership?
Let us turn our attention to power generation. Why a Black nation that is strategically located close to the equator, we have been too slow to democratize ownership of this sector? We were quick to sell Barbados Light & Power, a strategic asset. Some of us had hoped by now the legacy of Oliver Headley would have inspired Barbadians to build on it by becoming a model country for the adoption of renewable energy.
The last point, Black empowerment is about developing a way of thinking in the majority of our people that shouts to the world – we are confident in our abilities to compete and support a quality life for our people. Having this discuss is not about çussin’ minorities. It is about having a mature discussion towards building an equitable society on the little isl;and we love so much.
Listen to the exchange at 2hrs 20 minutes.