Time to mash brakes

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

November is recognised as the month those who lost lives in the First World War are honoured. Also, it is the month Barbados celebrates its independence from England on 30 November 1966. During this month the blogmaster will welcome our usually loquacious Prime Minister to take a pause from her international schedule to include what some in this forum consider important updates in her Independence Day message.

It seems to the blogmaster that in the last four years with the country lurching from from crisis to crisis and indicator on the misery index doing poorly, we have a people who need to get the mojo back. How do our leaders both political and other in civil society work to restore the confidence of a people?

A good place to begin is to make sure project 1, project 2, project 3, policy 1, policy 2, policy 3 are well researched with relevant information gathered to guarantee efficient implementation. During the process Barbadians – all groups in civil society – must be adequately consulted and treated with respect in the process.

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Should Bajans Living in the Diaspora Vote in —–> Barbados

As we draw closer to the time Barbadians will be encouraged to participate in a national debate about a NEW Constitution, one suggestion is to allow Barbadians- who for different reasons- have settled overseas to be able to vote to elect a Barbados government. Especially Bajans who although the primary address is foreign, they have family, property and other interest still in the land of birth.

The suggestion to create a Diaspora Constituency is a controversial one for obvious reasons but we should discuss it.

The following comment posted by William Skinner to the Did the Many Hands Make Light Work blog, a Barbadian living in the USA in instructive.


The truth is the truth. As I told you recently , I am not a paragon of any virtue known to mankind. But, I value intellectual honesty. As you have said we have our differences but we are heading the same place. One of the great pillars of intellectual honesty is to admit that you’re are not infallible and to quickly acknowledge when you are wrong or even half wrong.

Quite frankly, among overseas Bajans, I am considered a baby. And they tell me that almost every day. I know Bajans who have been away from home fifty years and over. There is a lot of success and a lot of pain. By the time they have achieved success , they have lost family, friends and even visits are a bit depressing because they are seeing the children of their family and friends and don’t know them. It’s a vicious cycle, when one , on the quest for some improvement , has to give up almost anything that is worthwhile at the end.

There is also a cultural dimension. I have a friend, who has lived more of his life in Brooklyn than than Bim. About ten years ago, he brought home his children to the rock for Crop Over. His daughter, a born and bred American, fell in love with Lil Rick. I am informed that she has not listened to any American rapper since! She is into pure kaiso.
Children need roots. A Canadian lady now in her fifties told me that on a visit home, around the age of seven or so, her uncle taught her how to catch a lizard. She has never forgotten that!

I can write a thousand stories. I have advised friends and family , to not give up a job or anything to come chasing the American dream. The price is high…..very high.

The Caribbean Diaspora must be seen as a part of our new horizon in a different way. And for many different reasons. Indians born and live on the rock then they go back to India to find spouses for their children; Jews , Irish and all other groups are in their Diaspora ensuring that their countries and culture are fully and properly defended. When progressive voices talk about the Diaspora , they are talking about he big picture and not only about barrels or who is Dee or Bee.

However, the mere fact that Caribbean people throughout the Diaspora want to be more involved in their countries is testimony that when all is said and done, home is where the heart is. And after mingling with those who call me a baby, I say they got on a plane but they never left Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana or any other island and if they tell you they really left, dey lie !

To Barbadians: No Child Must be Left Behind

Kudos to the Nation newspaper for highlighting the human interest story Family lacks electricity for online classes. The story resonated with the blogmaster for many reasons that should be obvious to sensible people. Leaders in education of late, forced to implement Covid 19 measures, have been repeatedly braying the cliche “no child must be left behind‘ – what does that mean? What does the image of children clustered around a mobile device in a less than an ideal arrangement say to fellow citizens?

Credit: Nation News

For too long better educated individuals than this buffoon, illiterate blogmaster have promoted the view we must modify the system of education to make it fit for purpose. The pandemic razing the global economic and social landscape of developed and developing countries has exposed weaknesses in the system successive governments have largely ignored or demonstrated a lack of competence to effectively manage.

We live in a country, a world it seems that consumes and distil ALL issues through a political lens. Factors influencing policymaking require several inputs be considered with the political being ONE.

Now the pandemic has humbled the education system the consequence of which we will not be able to determine for years to come. Are we there yet to do what is required? Are we ready to critically review and implement innovations required to enable our children to successfully compete in the global economy?

The task of not adequately preparing our children for the world has dire consequences for our small, beautiful paradise we love. An island that has accomplished so much considering its limited natural resources. Let us work together to show we love Barbados by continuing constructive engagement; sharing ideas, holding citizens, leaders accountable.

Read the Nation article Family lacks electricity for online classes.

Family lacks electricity for online classes 

Six children in one household cannot log on to the virtual classroom because their home lacks electricity.

Grandmother Cora Eastmond told the Weekend Nation that she has to give the devices to a friend who lives in Black Rock, St Michael, to get them charged and, depending on his schedule, she may get them back in a day or two.

The 61-year-old woman, who lives in My Lord’s Hill, St Michael, has been featured in this newspaper in the past and continues to receive assistance in the form of food and clothing for the children. Though unemployed, she is the sole guardian of three of the children, following the death of their mother five years ago.

The grandchildren range in age from five to 12.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and classes being shifted online, Eastmond said she had now reached the stage where there was a desperate need for the utilities.

“The house does not have electricity. I does got to send the phones and tablets to get charged and the tablets does have to go all the way to Black Rock,” she cried. “Sometimes the children don’t get their schoolwork done,” she said, adding that all of them had received devices.

The woman inherited the small two-bedroom wooden house in which the family lives when her mother passed away. Eastmond said she started to get it wired for electricity but did not have the money to complete the process even though she had some of the fittings stored.

She added that the house also had natural gas attached but it was disconnected many years ago.

“We does got to go by the $3 Store and buy batteries and go by an Indian store and buy lights and sometimes the batteries only lasting two or three nights,” she said, as she produced the small lanterns which the family used to illuminate the house at night.

In terms of cooking gas, she said while she buys the 25-pound cylinder bottle, it only lasts about a week because of the cooking which had to be done for the family.

“So I does have to walk down the road to the gasstation and if they don’t have gas I have to gofurther and my knees can’t take it because I have

arthritis.”

Eastmond said she felt helpless when it came to the needs of her family since they were all dependent on her.

“It is six children and three adults that live here. My son is out working and he tries his best but this is too much. I am getting old. I don’t know how much of this I can take. I don’t know how much longer I got on this Earth but I want better for the children,” she said, tears rolling down her face.

Eastmond said someone from the Barbados Light & Power recently visited the house but she did not know why since he only asked questions about the occupants. (MB)

Bajan Pride Harmed | Inflating the Bajan Psyche

William Skinner asked the blogmaster to clarify the following comment posted to Donville Inniss blog on the 2018/08/06 at 8:26 pm  currently choking local news feeds.

Another BLACK mark on the Barbados brand. How much more can we take? Interesting this old charge got laid on Inniss at this time. A conspiracy theory in the making.

On reflection the reply was too concise to effectively convey what was troubling the ‘mind’ of the blogmaster.

For many years Barbados enjoyed an enviable reputation in the region and dare we suggest the world? It was frequently referred to as a model island operating above its weight class. People visited from far to observe our electoral system and prominent Barbadians were invited to participate in election observer missions across the globe. A clear demonstration of the respect for how we managed the electoral process in the recent past.

The most frequent feedback shared by foreigners about Barbados centred on the sense of order to the way affairs of the country was managed. The quality of the infrastructure – road network, telecommunications, health services, educational system, political landscape, stability of the financial system, quality of justice, low level of crime and quality of justice dispensed etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Much of which was reflected in Barbados’ high position on the Human Development Index , Transparency International and other respected international indices.

The 2007-2008 global economic recession exposed vulnerabilities and for several reasons discussed in this space and elsewhere the country  has not been able to correct the ‘wobble’. As fate shared, the recession collided with the election of a young prime minister who died early in the term. The tragic occurrence of David Thompson’s death catapulted his deputy Freundel Stuart to office. The jury is about to return the verdict on Stuart’s legacy, however, it is accurate to state that under his stewardship Barbados was locked in a perpetual state of abeyance.

As a people we have had to suffer frequent downgrades by Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s eventually attracting junk status under the former government. The final nail was delivered three months ago when the newly elected Mottley government deliberately defaulted on foreign loan payments and the inevitable SD rating resulted.

Another dent to the psyche of Barbadians etch forever in the blogmaster’s mind is the spillage of sewage that occurred on the South Coast. Some argue that it is a poorly design plant that brought us to this point. Even if this view is accepted there is evidence that the plant was poorly maintained and misuse by consumers largely ignored- even today-  which has contributed to the current state. The lethargy shown by the last government to quickly address the problem on the South Coast given the catastrophic ramifications continues to be a source of discomfort for the blogmaster. What manner of people would have approved millions to build government buildings, travel first class and be accommodated in 4 and 5 star hotels, buy luxury vehicles, BUT, ignore the warning that the South Coast Sewage plant was under stress nearly two years before it escalated to the public attention?

We can engage in the useless political exercise of blaming Bees and Dees, the challenge confronting BARBADIANS is rehabilitating the Barbados brand which has been done irreparable harm. The job at hand- should we chose to accept- how do we inflate the Bajan psyche to create people confidence by encouraging many hands to make light of the work to be done.

 

 

 

The Power of ALL

There is so much divisiveness (almost typed derision) in Barbados of late. In the same way an organisation is defined by the quality of its employees and the ability to be productive – the definition is the same for a country. Barbados will only overcome the many challenges it faces if the majority of  the citizenry is led to unleash its collective intelligence for the good of the whole. Sadly we are far from this being a reality anytime soon.

Within the government ranks the Eager 11 episode has fizzled to David Estwick versus the rest. The discord periodically played in public by the government betrays the loyalty to the Westminster model of government and its aged old conventions. On the other side of the political aisle we have the leader of the Opposition battling demons as well in the form of former prime minister Owen Arthur tossing political barbs from the Independent side located on the government bench, sacked ‘Leader of Opposition Business’ Kerri Symmonds or the senseless bassa bassa between George Payne and Edmund Hinkson. There is a resignation the Westminster system we have bastardized breeds an adversarial politics. Do not expect any solutions from the political class.

What about the trade unions?

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These Fields and Hills Beyond Recall …

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank/Watchdog Group

Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow

“These fields and hills beyond recall are now are very own” Barbados National Anthem.”

Really?

Two or so decades ago, Barbadians could scrape up a few thousand dollars, approach their bank or credit union and with pride, proceed to purchase a piece of land. They refer to such an exercise as: “owning a piece of the rock.”

The Mahogany Coconut Group has been in the forefront of demanding that the collective BLP/DLP government, develops a land use policy, that will ensure that the dream of Barbadians owning a piece of land does not completely disappear.

Far from even pretending to attempt a progressive land use policy, the BLP/DLP politicians and their assortment of greedy lawyer friends, have shamelessly become the main architects of ensuring that land is out of the reach, of the average citizen. The real estate moguls and speculators are reaping millions on a daily basis while others are paying as much as $600. Bds. To rent a room in somebody’s house.

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