This should be of national interest and focus solely on Barbados’ Independence.
Submitted by Heather Cole
I am not a big fan of Independence but that is my personal point of view. When I was old enough to understand the differences between the have and the have nots in Barbados, the glamour of independence faded. It had become a gem without lustre. Despite my opinion, neither I nor any Barbadian must never forget Errol Walton Barrow’s unsurpassed contribution to the development of Barbados. None of the institutions he created have been rivalled by any subsequent political leader of this island. Even I am amongst the approximately 60% of Barbadians today that benefitted from ‘free’ secondary and tertiary education. Undeniably, I benefitted from his creating an independent Barbados.
I write because even I, who have never been a fan of independence, is offended by the display on the East Wing of the Parliament. I have ultimately reached the conclusion that those who were responsible grossly misunderstood the assignment or made an egregious decision to manipulate the people of Barbados. The official response did not cut it for me. In fact, it is unacceptable.
The topic was simple, celebrating 57 years of Barbados’ Independence. What was delivered appears to be in celebration of the Parliament buildings as the symbolism used is in no way connected to the Independence of Barbados. Not by any stretch of the imagination. One would have understood if an anniversary of the Parliament building was being celebrated and the designer opted to put the Tudor rose which is featured in the architecture on the building in the national colours, everyone would have understood, there would have been no fall out or a rush to defend the indefensible.
Common sense dictates that the Tudor Rose engulfed in a masonic emblem has nothing to do with the celebrating of 57 years of Independence of Barbados. The relic though on the Parliament building pertains to a history that is not our own.
“These wars of roses were fought between supporters of two rival cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: Lancaster and York. The wars extinguished the last male line of the House of Lancaster in 1471, leading to the Tudor family inheriting the Lancastrian claim to the throne. Following the war and the extinction of the last male line of the House of York in 1483, a politically arranged marriage united the Houses of Tudor and York, creating a new royal dynasty which inherited the Yorkist claim as well, thereby resolving the conflict.” Henry VII then created the Tudor rose which was white and red as a symbol of uniting the two royal houses.
All this happened about 141 years before the English came to Barbados. It was never part of Barbadian history. It was never a part of our pre or post-Independence story. There is no connection or relevance to Barbados.
One wonders if the designer understood that this is a celebration of Barbados’ independence in 1966 and, that the Parliament buildings are not being celebrated or any stories from England during the Middle Ages? Could no symbols of unity be found from the past or in present day Barbados? Truth be told, the Broken Trident was the only symbol that was required as it is a symbol of our breaking away from colonialism.
Alas, one also wonders if this was a deliberate attempt not to use the symbols of Barbados. Will independence be watered down and diluted to lose its meaning to the point where one cannot see its relevance? Will there be another set of irrelevant nonsense next year and the year after that until the memory of Independence and Errol Walton Barrow has been eroded? Is this the plan? Are we also witnessing the eradication of the memory and achievements of Errol Walton Barrow by a slow death of the Barbados he created?
It appears that this assignment was treated like a personal submission to NIFCA which would reflect the designer’s personal interpretation. This should never have happened. This should be of national interest and focus solely on Barbados’ Independence. That depiction is simply not within the mirror image of Barbados.
In addition, and more importantly, how could anyone have the audacity to overshadow the occasion of the independence anniversary by hijacking it with the history of another country? I am baffled to the point where I wonder if on the Parliament building, there will be a rainbow next year.