The ‘Other’

This week will see the convergence of four historical events of note, which interestingly relate to a few present realities: the birth anniversaries of Nelson Mandela and American civil rights activist, Ida B Wells, as well as the end of the Rwandan Genocide and the anniversary of the publication of Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto, Mein Kampf.

What do all of these events have in common? In one way or another, they relate to the dangers of ‘othering’, i.e. treating a person or a group as “intrinsically different and alien”, in order to justify their oppression. To be sure, identity formation is a crucial aspect of human socialization, and large chunks of our identity are related to group association. However, the problem arises when that group association becomes toxic, such that you cease to see members of other groups as human, instead, simply as ‘other’.

Herr Hitler thus sold the idea to the German people that the Jews were so different that they were dangerous and that is why so many persons could justify assaulting their Jewish neighbours and looting their stores, because they were no longer neighbours; they were ‘other’.

Mandela spent his life fighting a system predicated entirely upon the notion that blacks and coloureds were so inherently different from and alien to whites, that the races must be completely separated and blacks legitimately oppressed.

Ida B. Wells was a crusading activist and investigative journalist, best known for bringing to the attention of the world, one of the worst aspects of Jim Crow southern USA: lynching. Most know that many black men were brutally murdered because they were falsely accused of sexual misconduct. Few however know that most lynchings of blacks were for far more trivial and heart-wrenching reasons, including “unpopularity”, “miscegenation”, “bad reputation”, “writing insulting letter”, “quarrelling with white man” and “gambling”.

Turning to Rwanda finally, it is said that most of the 1,000,000 people killed and 500,000 women raped during the genocide, were murdered or raped in their own villages by persons who were their neighbours. How does one suddenly brutalize your neighbour with whom you had coexisted all your life? Because they were indoctrinated to believe that those Tutsis were ‘other’, and not worthy thus of their humanity.

No human being, expect the most perverse or warped, is capable of inflicting or justifying the infliction of the type of inhumanity aforementioned on another human being. They can only justify such if they are able to tell themselves that these victims are not like them, they aren’t their siblings in humanity. They are ‘other’.

Therefore, when we speak about racism in the present day, what we really speak about is institutions designed to perpetuate prejudice and discrimination, but also which strive to sow divisions between racial groupings. So we have blacks and whites who view each other perpetually with suspicion because we have contrived this artificial separateness.

In Guyana and unfortunately across the region, you have persons willing to justify a massive assault on democracy and electoral fraud, simply because the fraudsters look like them.

Therefore, in this region and anywhere in the world, we have no hope of healing the wounds of the divisions of race, ethnicity, religion, class and gender, unless we comprehensively eradicate ‘othering’.

Does that require deep, structural change? Absolutely.

But is it equally important for every single person to break down within themselves these toxic notions of ‘otherness’? Undoubtedly.

We often forget that institutions are composed of people. Therefore, while ways can be found to fundamentally alter institutions through legislation and such, there is no guarantee that that can solve the problem of human behaviour. That challenge is best solved when each person resolves to represent the desired change themselves.

Is that an easy task? No. Whether we admit it or not, each and every one of us, of all races and creeds, has some prejudice, conscious or subconscious, which affects how we view and treat to others. The battle ahead therefore is internal. If we want to build the best Barbados, we must rise to the occasion. The alternative is too bleak to consider.

Barbados Must Stop and BREATHE

Many of us look to Singapore as the benchmark that represents the near perfect society on earth. Some key characteristics driving the behaviour of the average Singaporean  identify hard working, competitive, afraid to fail, self centred all encapsulated by the word kiasu __ a Hokkien word that captures the uniquely Singaporean trait of being afraid to lose out. What is starkly obvious is that the leadership of Singapore is always occupied with executing tactics to develop and support a national identity for its people that feeds the society it wants to sustain.

What is the national identity of Barbados?

Is there a strategy by our political and NGO leaders to create an identity that syncs with who we are as a people?

There is nothing wrong with benchmarking to Singapore but we know a wholesale comparison is not realistic. The cultural diversity between the two countries is too wide.

The other characteristic one discerns from reading the literature about Singapore is the discipline the government in this instance supports. Especially as it relates to enforcing the laws and customs of the country.

As the public prosecutor, the AGC enforces all laws “without fear or favour”. Whether it is charging a high-profile individual for corruption or serving as Singapore’s international lawyer, the AGC has a critical role, Mr Lee said.

“As public prosecutors, you ensure that everyone is accountable for their actions. You enforce all our laws, whether it is against drug abuse, organised crime, unauthorised money lending or terrorism,” he said. “Because our laws are enforced, Singaporeans and foreigners know that here in Singapore, they are safe and secure.”


Have a walk along most streets in Barbados and there is litter everywhere. We have many who have no fear about tossing an empty snack box out a car or bus window. Have a walk through our gullies or off trails to be reminded of the scourge of illegal dumping.

Stand by any junction controlled by traffic lights and observe motorists running red lights.  Not to forget the motor cyclists who hog highways to perform wheelies and other stunts in ‘broad’ daylight.

Everyday the blogmaster wonders if the ban on the use of mobile phones while driving was repealed.

Not too long ago an executive (Leroy Parris) of a leading insurance company (CLICO Insurance) refused to adhere to a stop sell order issued by the regulator.

Every year almost ALL state owned agencies break the law by not laying current financials in parliament to be accessible to the public. No where is the financial indiscipline best seen than at the National Insurance Scheme, arguable the most important state owned agency setup to pay social security benefits to citizens.

Have a read of a decade of Auditor General’s reports or the pages of Barbados Underground if you have been living under a moon rock in recent years to confirm the sorry tale of a country gripped by indiscipline. How often have we heard some leader or the other utter the empty words, “we are a nation of laws’. Barbadians have become numb to the meaning.

The rampant flouting of the laws and rules by officers of the court  has become  folklore. The Barbados Bar Association and Disciplinary Committee have not served the country well.

The ills are not exhaustive.

Mr Lee said emphasising the rule of law is a “vital national interest” for a small country like Singapore, and helped Singapore to distinguish itself from other developing countries and move from third world to first.


There is a heavy focus by the government of Barbados to rebuild the economy. However, we need an equal or greater focus on enforcing our laws in every sphere of life. We (not just the government) have to start holding every citizen accountable from top to bottom; in the private and public sectors. We must exercise a zero tolerance to illegal and unauthorized behaviour starting right now. If we do not arrest the  current situation, borrowing billions to develop the physical infrastructure will be for nothing if the social fabric is not addressed.



Phartford Files: Hard Truths – Part 2

Submitted by Ironside

In part 1 of this submission, I tried to make the case that the problems of Barbados are not primarily economic [or even social for that matter] but are anchored in our spiritual relationship [or lack of one] with the Sovereign Lord. Despite the filibusters and tantrums that were thrown, it seems that there is some level of agreement with this.

In this instalment I will detail some of the specifics of at least one of the things of which we need to repent. However, before I proceed I wish to make my stance on religion clear. So here is what I said to one commenter in Part 1:
P.S. I hate religion! I mean it. Perhaps Karl Marx was right, “Religion is the opium of the people”. Repentance is NOT about religion but about a RIGHT RELATIONSHIP with the King of Kings AS DEFINED BY HIM, not us e.g. the NEW AGERS! That’s the part we can’t swallow! We can like it or lump it but God IS SOVEREIGN !!
N.B. There was no religion in the Garden of Eden until Lucifer came along!
I also want to make it clear that I am not really dealing with individual sins and therefore, individual repentance per se. However, if your conscience get pricked in the process, so be it. Do something about it.

On the contrary, I am dealing with national repentance. Check the scriptures and note, that almost without exception, calls for repentance were made to whole nations! To Israel! To Nineveh (the city called Mosul in modern day Iraq). To Egypt!

Of course, there are cases where individuals are singled out, for example, an individually delivered call for David to repent after his malfeasance with Bathsheba. But by and large, it was national repentance.
“If you will return, O Israel, return to Me,” declares the LORD. “If you will remove your detestable idols from My sight and no longer waver… Jeremiah 4:1NLT

That is why the LORD says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Joel 2:12 NLT


So what are these “national sins” from which we need to repent? Glad you asked!


In Barbados idolatry finds expression in the growing personality cult and hero worship which we practice AT A NATIONAL LEVEL. Back in 2010 the Nationnews had this to say about the personality cult re. the DEMS.
It’s time for Barbadians to open their eyes and see past the propaganda and the “personality cult” that abounds and select a Government based on its competence level. But then again, we must be a simple-minded people since we keep repeating the same mistakes. Nationnews 20 December 2010
According to my spiritual analysis, that is why Barbados has been handed Mystery Babylon. Every Bajan who was awake then (or now) knows the BLP was swept into power on the skirts of Mystery Babylon. Women clamoured for her as the Saviour of Barbados. They identified with her as a woman! So much so that even though she said she would go to the IMF, they still voted her in. And the first casualties of the IMF were the [female] secretaries in government! What a betrayal! No surprise here; this is just the Mystery Babylon persona in action.

Moreover, within months Mystery Babylon was projecting itself as the new Caribbean leader as well as emasculating the male ministers right before our very eyes. What arrogance and hyperbolic conceit! Shame on you BLP men!

A female friend of mine said to me just hours ago before I started writing this: “We taking this female thing too far!” She was speaking about another female appointment to a position I will not identify. I reminded her of my favourite saying, “Too far east is west!”

Some of us are so far away from the Sovereign One that we do not understand his ways; especially His “tough love” modus de operandi. Look, if you crave something bad enough he will give it to you to knock yourself out.

Lucifer wanted a kingdom so he got a kingdom of darkness!

Here is Israel asking for a king:
Look,” they said, “you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king to judge us like all the other nations.” 6 But when they said, “Give us a king to judge us,” their demand was displeasing in the sight of Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7And the LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you. For it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected Me as their king.
1 Samuel 8: 5 – 7 BSB
Israel again:
The whole Israelite community set out from Elim, and on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left Egypt, they came to the desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai. There in the desert they all complained to Moses and Aaron and said to them, “We wish that the LORD had killed us in Egypt. There we could at least sit down and eat meat and as much other food as we wanted. But you have brought us out into this desert to starve us all to death.”

The LORD said to Moses, “Now I am going to cause food to rain down from the sky for all of you. The people must go out every day and gather enough for that day. In this way I can test them to find out if they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to bring in twice as much as usual and prepare it.” Exodus 16: 1- 5
So let’s get to the point:

Hero Worship is Sin!
The Sovereign One says we need to stop the hero worship and personality cult, so I am passing on the message. This is not North Korea.

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. Exodus 20:2- 3 Berean Study Bible

You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you. Exodus 34:14 NLT


I like Luther Vandross’ music but he is dead. I do not worship him! Folks, Errol Barrow did a lot of good but he is dead! Stop worshipping him. Clennell Wickham is dead. Stop adoring him. It makes me puke. It is enough to make God angry! Stop putting all that historical crap on TV about these people. Let the historians find some other avenue for their skills. I suggest they write about the “history of the lawyertocracy in Barbados!” That should occupy them or a while.

Most young people in this country neither “know”, nor care a cat’s whisker about Errol Barrow or Clennell Wickham. They are living now! Not one of them [dead heroes or heroines] is going to save our butts when the next hurricane comes along or get us out of this economic disaster we are in.

Neither will Mystery Babylon!

Worshipping Mystery Babylon is a sin. Hero worship is a sin! A national sin! Period! We need to repent of it, now! So CBC, get it together! Reporters and editors, help get out of this descending orbit! Churches! put this on warp drive!

The constitutional crisis we have is a blessing in disguise. It is our cue to repent. Then we would have started the process of freeing ourselves from Mystery Babylon!

Phartford Files: Hard Truths – Part 1

Submitted by Ironside

For some, the predicament in which Barbados finds itself at this point in its history is purely economic. On the other hand, the extreme right might argue that we are being punished for our many sins.

I take a more middle of the road approach and suggest that we are being offered an opportunity to put our increasingly miserable lives in order. We are under mercy, but we can’t recognize it. But putting our lives in order is not primarily an economic exercise, or for that matter, a political exercise.

My thesis is that the first thing we have to do is to extricate ourselves from the spiritual cesspool that we have allowed ourselves to fall into. Getting ourselves out is the #1 priority. Political stability and economic prosperity will follow. By what authority so I say this?

++Godliness makes a nation great, but sin is a disgrace to any people. [NLT Proverbs 14:34]++


++Doing right brings honor to a nation, but sin brings disgrace. [CEV Proverbs 14:34]++

If you think I am wanting to join the ranks of the Grenville of SB and his Tuesday, now Monday sermons or Dr. GP, forget it. I am about practicality; there is nothing more practical than the Word of God! In it is all that we need to run our individual lives AND our nation.

Hello! The only person who can tell you the best way to drive and maintain a vehicle is the manufacturer. That is why Simpson motors has to send their service people many miles away to get first hand training in the factories and labs of the manufacturers- plain necessity and common sense. But I suppose that this truth is TOO simple for an educated and proud people to understand!

So in this short series, I am going to try to download the Divine Manual and upload it to our failing national economic and political sub-systems so that we can get rid of the viruses that have invaded them. In short, I am calling for a national reboot! Join me…if you have the guts!

Every year from June to November we get anxious about storms and hurricanes and keep a staunch watch. As soon we hear of an approaching system the front line against hurricanes (a.k.a the radio stations) – or so they believe – come out with voluminous commentary and APRs (all points reports) until the system passes out of our piece of the ocean only to devastate some Caribbean neighbour or parts of America. God, the Bajan did it again. And he did it because VOB put on some religious music to assuage His Majesty’s anger.

Ok! If God is a Bajan, then I am Queen Candace of Ethiopia, live and in full royal regalia!

It never ceases to amaze me how spiritually stupid we have become! If God is who he is, do you really expect to bribe Him with religious songs? Bribe Him at all? What absolute superstitious bull! And coming from people who claim to be the most “highly educated” in the Caribbean, if not in the world? Get real!

You can try to explain away our escapes by other means, e.g. our location. But in my humble opinion, we are saved every year because truly God-fearing people in this country get down on their knees and ask for mercy! You and I know, that despite all the prideful talk and clamouring we do, that we can’t take a major hit from a hurricane any time soon; especially in these perilous economic times! Let’s stop deceiving OURSELVES!

Let me get to the point: we need to repent! A.K.A reboot!

No, I did not say go to church! Or give the church some money! I said “repent!” The dictionary renders repent variously as “be sorry, apologize, ask for forgiveness, feel sorrow, be penitent, atone”. That is not true biblical repentance! You can’t seriously expect a lexicon to know what true biblical repentance is, can you?

In the New Testament, the verb metanoeo [translierated Greek word) and the noun metanoia [ditto] are translated as “repent”, “repentance”. The root meaning of these words is “to turn”. In the contexts in which they are used, “repent” means to turn AWAY from (evil) and to turn TO (or return to) God and good. If you haven’t got it yet, it means make a U-turn to God! That is true biblical repentance! Being sorry or asking for forgiveness is a quarter-turn; it is not enough; going to church, even though desirable, is not nearly enough, in point of fact, as a starter, it is irrelevant!

As I see it, in the BLP’s 30 – 0 victory, God has given us an opportunity to repent. From a lot of things! Like idolatry! You thought I was going to say “homosexuality” right? I know! In part 2, I am going to identify those NATIONAL viruses we need to eliminate.

You see, the hard truth is that we asked Him and he has spared us repeatedly from those awesome hurricanes. I am not a prophet nor indeed want to be, but, if I am “reading” His Majesty, King of Kings and Lord of Lords correctly, he has thrown us a “curve ball” known as ‘Mystery’ Babylon and the BLP. Why? To test us; to test whether we will recognize our sinfulness AS A NATION and REPENT.

Consider this. In one master stroke, the Most High has (a) relieved us of the wickedness of DLP and the hypocrite Freundel Stuart (b) given us Mystery Babylon with all her abominations and (c) betrothed us to the IMF. And why has He done these things? Is it to destroy us? I say, no! I say, it is because he loves us! Wait, you mean God got a “love-hate” thing going on with Barbados! You could that! Really?

Please see Part 2.


Grenville Phillips Column – No Pride, No Industry

Barbadians were an exceptionally enterprising people.  During slavery, our fore-parents were forced to work without payment.  After slavery, they were paid for their labour.  But the evidence of their labour, both during and after slavery, showed that they produced work to an exceptionally high standard.

By the time of our Independence, most Barbadians had marketable skills by the age of 18 years.  Those skills included: masonry, carpentry, joinery, seam-stressing, weaving, tailoring, barbering, baking, nursing, teaching, book-keeping, farming, fishing, boat-building, machining, and the various trades required on the plantations and businesses where many of them worked.  Barbadians were justifiably proud of their industriousness.

The Barbados public service was one of the most professional and well managed of all nations.  It employed the most qualified Barbadians.  By the time of our Independence, it appeared to exceed the international management standard, ISO 9001.

Rural Barbados was mostly a collection of communities, that were connected to plantations.  Those who worked on the plantations had access to small lots, where they could plant canes and vegetables.  Those in the community supported each other.  They reaped each-others’ canes, built each-others’ houses, and shared each-others’ vegetables.

There were disagreements within families and neighbours.  But no disagreement affected the unspoken, but understood duty to those in the community.  Then something happened after our Independence to divide every community in Barbados, and the duty to share stopped.    Something also infected our public service at this time, and our professional public service came to an end.  What happened?

In 1950, everyone 21 years and over became entitled to vote.  In 1964, this was reduced to 18 years.  So, politicians visited the communities in search for votes.  Our politicians could not promise employment in the public sector, because it was protected.  So, they encouraged Barbadians to hate who they considered to be our common enemy – the white merchants and planters.

Barbados became Independent in 1966.  To prevent Barbados from self-destructing, our Constitution protected our professional public service from political abuse.  It did this by giving the Governor General the sole duty to hire, discipline and fire public workers.

Our politicians cleverly removed this protection by legislating intermediate politically appointed bodies to manage the public service.  They then recommended old-age pensioners to the post of Governor General.  Once the Governor Generals were sufficiently distracted with tiresome ceremonial duties, our professional public service became exposed to political abuse.

As each political administration sent thousands of their unqualified supporters to Government departments, they went from being highly professional to highly politicised.  Engineering is a classic example.

There were about 10 chartered engineers in three government departments in the 1970s.  One decade later, there was not a single chartered engineer to be found in the entire public service of Barbados.  Further, when it was brought to their attention that unqualified persons were occupying Engineering posts, the posts were simply renamed to Technical Officer, which automatically qualified their previously unqualified supporters.  The tragic effect on quality was foreseen.

Whenever the government changed, the winning political party sent home many of the losing party’s supporters, and filled the public service with their own.  Getting work generally did not depend on competence, but on party loyalty.

The unqualified political supporters could be quickly promoted to management positions above more qualified persons.  Since the least competent persons could be the most successful, there was little incentive for individuals to pursue excellence.  Public services quickly became extremely poorly managed, and very low standards became the new normal.

In the communities, people no longer depended on each-other, but on their politicians.  Households proudly declared their political party affiliation, and communities became firmly divided along political party lines.

Approximately 40 years ago, our politicians achieved what two hundred years of slavery never did.  They destroyed our sharing communities, dismantled our professional public service, erased our desire for excellence, and got us to blame each other for their corrupting mismanagement.

To sustain their achievements, they have convinced the current generation of Barbadians that incompetence must be tolerated, because it is the best that descendants of slaves can achieve.  They have also brainwashed their most extreme supporters, to deprive anyone who dares to question their performance.

After our politicians got the merchants to fund their political parties, our politicians had to find a new enemy for us to hate – ourselves.


Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at


The Grenville Phillips Column – When They Fail, We Suffer

Grenville Phillips II, leader of Solutions Barbados

Our elected politicians are supposed to represent us.  When they fail in that primary duty, then the rest of us must suffer – grievously.  However, we do not simply suffer the damaging consequences.  We must also be over-taxed, not to pay to permanently fix the problems that were created by their failures, or to only maintain the high-maintenance environment created by their incompetence, but rather, to try to slow the slide into eventual ruin.

In the mid 1980’s, many boys were leaving secondary school with no evidence of having attended.  They had no legitimate marketable skills and started forming gangs.  Our politicians were warned about the emerging gang activity and were asked to do something about it.  Their response was to publicly announce that there were no gangs in Barbados.

The obvious solution was to modify the secondary school curriculum to allow all of our students to leave school with at least one marketable skill, so that they would have an alternative to trading in illegal drugs.  However, neither the BLP nor DLP administrations were willing to make the necessary changes.  Over 30 years later, the school curriculum still does not allow all of our students to leave school with marketable skills.  Therefore, gangs have a ready supply of new recruits.

In the early 1990’s, guns started flowing in to support the illegal drug trade, and shootings were becoming frequent.  Our politicians were warned about the increasing gun violence and Barbadians pleaded with them to do something about it.  The callous response was that it was simply criminals shooting each-other, or gang-on-gang violence.

The obvious solution was to charge all persons involved in the illegal distribution of a gun with the same offense as the final user.  Therefore, the importer, distributor, seller, and renter should all be charged with: murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, rape, theft, threats, illegal possession, or whatever the final user was charged with.  Neither the BLP nor DLP administrations would implement this effective deterrent. Instead, the guns flowed in, gun violence increased dramatically, and the innocent are being killed.

Near the late 1990’s, the problems with residential construction quality were getting out of control.  The Government was warned about the wave of substandard houses being constructed that were unlikely to survive an earthquake.  Fortuitously, the easy-to-understand Barbados National Building Code was published in 1993.  The obvious solution was to make compliance with the structural requirements of the Building Code a condition of Planning approval.

Both BLP and DLP administrations chose not to protect homeowners in this manner.  Thousands of substandard houses have subsequently been constructed in Barbados.  Inexcusably, the Government decided to withdraw the only building standard for residential construction, resulting in Barbados being perhaps the only nation on Earth that does not provide any sort of structural building guidance to residential contractors.  Thus, the Government is ensuring that most residential contractors unintentionally build only high-maintenance tombs for unsuspecting homeowners.

By the mid 1990’s, we were approaching the 40% of GDP debt limit.  The IMF warned us that this limit should never be crossed, otherwise a most harsh austerity would be required.  Yet, the BLP crossed this limit and plunged Barbados into an unsustainable debt.  The BLP took Barbados’ national debt to an irresponsible and unsustainable 90% GDP.  The DLP provided perhaps the worst possible response to our debt situation, allowing it to balloon to an irresponsible and unsustainable 150% GDP.

The obvious solution would be to simply respect the debt limit or bring the national debt back to the safety of below 40% GDP as soon as possible.  Instead, both the BLP and DLP administrations allowed the national debt to balloon out of control.

Over the past 5 years, in a moment of sheer lunacy, many Barbadians provided children with tablets and smart phones with Internet access, where they can watch other children being repeatedly raped.

Our elected representatives are preparing to allow cell phones in our schools, which will allow widespread distribution of pornography among our children.  The increase in abortions, STDs, rapes, kidnappings, murders, low productivity, etc are foreseen.  The obvious solution is to block pornography as a default.  As expected, this solution is being ignored by our representatives – so, once again, we will have to pay a most heavy price for the foreseen consequences.

At this time in our history, we should be more mature in our approach to solving problems.  Our elected politicians tend to ignore problems until they are completely unmanageable.  When the harmful consequences are plainly obvious and are publicised, then they tend to blame parents, the private sector, the Church, and even God, for not doing enough, but they never blame themselves.

Watching the country being run this way is very frustrating – but it is the system that we must accept.  The only hope for Barbados is for voters to finally realise that both established parties have no actual solutions by the time the next general election is called, and to look for a competent alternative.  Solutions Barbados is that competent alternative.

Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at

Open Letter to the Religious Community


It is with utmost humility that I write as the Political Leader of the Barbados Integrity Movement (BIM) and more importantly as Christian Believer to engage All Leaders in the Religious community together with their Congregants across the length and breadth of Barbados to stand up and be counted in this season of great distress and uncertainty for our people and country as a whole.

BIM recognizes that our beloved country is today facing the worse financial crisis in its history aided by what appears to be a severe lack of decisive management and a patriotic vision. Our National Anthem states that “God has been the people’s guide for past 300 years” but several of our current parliamentary leaders in themselves exude behaviors as though there is no respect for the “Almighty God” as is frequently demonstrated in their speech and actions. It is BIM’s goal therefore


The George Brathwaite Column – What Kind of Society Do WE Want?

UWI,Cave HillAgainst the background of numerous political, economic, and social issues grabbing national headlines and our concerned attention, this past weekend was very heartening. As a proud graduate of the University of the West Indies (UWI), I became washed with positive emotion while taking in the two graduation ceremonies. The graduating students were splendidly dressed not only in terms of their apparel, but more poignantly they wore consummate smiles reflecting anticipation, happiness, satisfaction, elation, relief, and that wonderful joy of overcoming.

My sincerest congratulations to the graduating classes of 2016, and to the academic and administrative staff of the UWI for reminding all and sundry that we are collectively ‘a light rising from the west’. Worthy acknowledgement is also extended to the several sponsors of students, their projects, and the accompanying events inclusive of the graduation ceremony. Without their cooperative inputs, Saturday could possibly have been somewhat dulling. Fantastic presentation, job well done!

Arguably, the collection of one’s certificate will tend to remain with the individual for a lifetime. However, I am convinced that the most conscious and awe-inspiring moment at the graduation ceremony came when the Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir George Alleyne, requested the graduates to turn to their loved ones – parents, guardians, spouses, and friends – and give them the biggest applause they have ever given to anyone. Profoundly remarkable!

It is precisely this grand act of appreciation for the loved ones and supporters, many themselves may not have graduated from university but were willing to sacrifice their time, financial and other resources, in order to make possible a positive difference in the lives of whom they supported did not go unnoticed. The mere exposure to higher education, inconsequential of class of degree, would bring a tremendous sense of achievement to the graduates.

The graduates will go back into their communities, the workplace (some for the first time), and the society with a ‘newness’ for which all advanced and developing countries strive. Their ‘enlightened’ impact will be very telling for generations to come. Indeed, the recognition of this synthesis presents quite an opportune time for us in the broader society to contemplate: “What kind of education do we need in Barbados and the Caribbean?” Attempting to respond to this simple question elicits very complex answers which fittingly encourage us to consider a different question: “What kind of society do we want?”

According to three academics, higher education exists “to create and disseminate knowledge, and to develop higher order cognitive and communicative skills in [mostly] young people, such as, the ability to think logically, the motivation to challenge the status quo, and the capacity to develop sophisticated values,” and more recently, as “a training ground for advanced vocational and professional skills”. Surely, these composite benchmarks are instrumental for building the type of society we imagine, and achieving the platitudes of investment contributions which are necessary for national development.

Furthermore, another group realising the challenges in the contemporary world assert the view that: “Today’s knowledge economy requires highly skilled personnel at all levels to deal with rapid technological changes,” in addition to meeting the “current societal needs.” In fact, Barbados and the Caribbean are grappling with issues as these relate to ensuring that higher education institutions are accessible and that wider sections of the population are exposed to programmes which are edifying for the individual and the society on a whole.

In Barbados, numerous arguments have been put to state officials by multiple stakeholders. For starters, there is now an urgent necessity to reconstruct curricula at all stages of the educational construct – inclusive of primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions. Key to this route of reform is the willingness and capabilities for attracting the best yet most cost-effective pedagogy, and the political will for implementation and assessment of policies “to ensure that all students,” by the end of their relevant classes of instruction, have attained the desired attributes and competencies for moving upward to the next level, or for entering the workplace with the enlightened capability to contribute meaningfully to national development.

A closer examination of the competencies required, reveal that subject specific and generic training and practical exposure are vital cogs for the fertilisation of attitudes and aptitudes in order to effectively build capacity in national development. As a developing society, Barbados’ labour force needs competences in a broad range of disciplines. The broad area of the natural sciences inclusive of the range of new technologies and strands of physics, chemistry, and engineering for example are particularly useful points of take-off.

Notwithstanding emphasis on the natural sciences, there is a real need for the social sciences, the arts and humanities, and importantly, the development of persons with the ability to cooperate across discipline boundaries by putting their choice discipline into a broader context. The reality is that knowledge, understanding, and the ability to act are crucial to the era that we live in.

Accompanying these points of interaction and engagement are the shaping and manifestation of the appropriate attitudes within the framework of national society and international settings. The productive and competitive spaces that characterise today’s workplace, mean that increased levels of awareness and initiative are likely to increasingly feature with regards to hiring. Research has demonstrated that people consistently identify work in one of two ways – being primarily about personal fulfilment, and serving others or about status, advancement, and income.

Again, considering higher education in the context of what kind of society do we want in Barbados and in the Caribbean, it is useful to reflect upon an essay first published in 1929 by A.N. Whitehead who wrote:

“The university imparts information, but it imparts it imaginatively. … This atmosphere of excitement, arising from imaginative consideration, transforms knowledge. A fact is no longer a bare fact: it is invested with all its possibilities. It is no longer a burden on the memory: it is energising as the poet of our dreams, and as the architect of our purposes. Imagination is not to be divorced from the facts: it is a way of illuminating the facts. It works by eliciting the general principles which apply to the facts, as they exist, and then by an intellectual survey of alternative possibilities which are consistent with those principles. … The development of students’ intellectual and imaginative powers; their understanding and judgement; their problem-solving skills; their ability to communicate; their ability to see relationships within what they have learned and to perceive their field of study in a broader perspective. [It] must aim to stimulate an enquiring, analytical and creative approach, encouraging independent judgement and critical self-awareness.”

In conclusion, the call is for all Barbadian and Caribbean peoples to embrace the value and significance of allowing for as many individuals as possible to have access to higher level education. At 50 years, our work is clearly not done, and realistically, the country and region have both progressed in other stages of development which require belief and delivery in all of our instructional institutions.

In particular, although not a statement of exclusivity blocking out vocational, technical, and professional institutions of instruction, the urge is for us to celebrate the 2016 graduates of the UWI. Let us embrace the pedagogical work and research contributions being made by the UWI on all of its campuses. There is no doubt that the deep and phenomenal significance of higher education to the national and integrated development of the Caribbean region rest with the graduates being produced and their sometimes underestimated contributions to humanity.

(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a part-time lecturer in Political Science at the UWI-Cave Hill Campus, a political consultant, and up until recently, he was editor of Caribbean Times (Antigua). Email: )

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – On Nearing Fifty (iv)

The changing mirror image

Jeff Cumberbatch - New Chairman of the FTC

Jeff Cumberbatch – New Chairman of the FTC

“Why should one man have a mirror image of you that you do not want to have of yourself? What kind of society are we striving for? There is no point in striving for Utopia, but you do not realize your potential…” – Mr Errol Barrow (1986)

I am compelled to begin today’s effort with a mea culpa or, in todayspeak, a “my bad”. In last week’s column, “Humpty Dumpty comes to town”, I wrote of the angst of Mr Ralph Williams at hearing Prime Minister Freundel Stuart refer to Barbados as “the freest black nation on earth” at the launch of the 50th anniversary of Independence celebrations earlier this month.

Now, having been provided with, and having perused, a copy of Mr Stuart’s speech at the ceremony, I am satisfied that the Prime Minister made no such claim then or at all, and I should wish to withdraw unreservedly the assertion on my part that he did so. I am further advised that the claim was in fact made in a video presentation at the event that listed a number of the ways in which Barbados has been described over the years. My error is purely to be blamed therefore on what I consider to be regrettably sloppy scholarship on my part -I trusted to faulty recall rather than double-checking the news report. My bad!

Incidentally, Humpty Dumpty has not as yet left town, if we are to judge from one topic of popular discussion this week, that of the incident relating to the punishment of a secondary school girl who refused to follow a teacher’s instruction to pick up from the ground a wrapper of some sort. Here, some contributors to the discussion sought to distinguish, depending on their view, between the toxic “garbage” and the merely untidy “litter”. I suppose that those who would “cavil on the ninth part of a hair” might convince themselves that there is a substantial distinction between the two, although it bears reminder that litter is ultimately placed in a garbage can…or is that a litterbin? Much like the issue whether Hog Food/King Dyal was indeed properly described as an icon or was merely a mascot.

Thirty or so years ago, the Leader of the Opposition as he was then, and imminent Prime Minister to be, now National Hero, the Right Excellent Errol Barrow, inquired of our citizens as to what mirror image we had of ourselves. It is indeed intriguing that this interrogatory preceded the Michael Jackson megahit, “Man in the Mirror”, that was released the following year. For a people not usually much given to introspection, this question resonated significantly, although it appeared that this was more for the allure of maxim than for the message that Mr Barrow intended to convey.

That was then. Clearly, at 20 years of age, the individual may be obsessed with his or her full-length “mirror image” –the unlined face, the pert pectorals, the six-pack abdominals, the firm thighs…Likewise, by analogy, the relatively young nation might have been more concerned then with its physical appearance –the tall buildings, the other material accoutrements, the balance of payments. Now, as we near 50, and as the human being perceives in many cases the encroaching facial lines, the effects of gravity on a once proud chest and the pre-arthritic knees, the mirror image itself becomes less endearing and emphasis is placed rather on the stability and wholesomeness of the structure.

At this stage, regular inspection of the body politic becomes essential for the state as well as for the individual. This suspicious lump here –should it be excised or best left alone? That worrying cough – a mere allergy or something far more sinister? The frequent nocturnal acid reflux –a decreased resistance to spicy foods or…?

Now the state should be concerned more with its fundamental and other obligations to its citizens –Are our people being afforded their basic entitlements in keeping with their rights to dignity, respect and autonomy? Is each individual being empowered to exercise his or her economic, social and cultural rights in addition so as to become a more productive citizen? Do we permit the people to enjoy the benefits of those international obligations to which we have committed ourselves? Has there been an attempt to encourage the mutual trust and confidence that ought to exist between the citizen and the state in a modern progressive democracy?

Equally, the citizen should become more mindful of his or her contribution to the national good, among other things. Does he or she indeed care for the welfare of Barbados or does this vary depending on the colours of the administration? Do we give an honest day’s work as due consideration for a day’s pay? Are our civic obligations being adhered to?

I sub-titled this essay, “The changing mirror-image”. Perhaps it is not that at all… Mirror images may now be passé. It is time now for the report card.

No Change III

Is Barbados suffering from a leadership vacuum?

Is Barbados suffering from a leadership vacuum?

The level of student on student violence in the United States has reached a level which should concern the world Barbados included. We are bombarded 24/7  by streaming into our homes via TV, Internet, radio and other forms. Most if not all Barbadians have family and friends who reside in the US, we visit for recreation, business and education. The influence of the US culture is pervasive and strong parenting and leadership is required to influence our children and wider society from being consumed from this marauding culture fashion by values which conflict with the Barbadians and West Indian way.

All of us hope and pray the level of student violence which is currently being visited on the USA will never infiltrate our traditional ‘docile’ culture, BUT,  the signs are evident the gestation period fed by two decades of US led globalization is about to deliver. The Alexander School Commission of Inquiry shifted the veil covering the inner workings of our school system, BUT, sadly it has not resonated with the wider population by galvanizing a movement of concerned parents (citizens). The Inquiry exposed an inept and inefficient ministry of education; the body responsible for educating and nurturing the next generation. Similar to the USA and other countries we have become fixated with paper trophies at the expense of educating our children to be the best citizens. Again, let us hope in Barbados we have not reached the point where the teacher of the year in New York was retrenched because of budget cuts, or have we.

We know the problems after six years of the government promoting the political slogan it is intent on building out a society and not just an economy. Have we witnessed any difference to judge for incremental societal improvement compared to the pre 2008 period? Have we as an educated populace placed importance on holding the government accountable to the slogan? Do we even care?

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Notes From a Native Son: Do We have Any Shared Social Values?

Hal Austin

Recently, two cases caught our attention. Divided by 1500 miles, cultures, legal systems, states of development, yet both cases have so much in common: the perceived criminality of teenage black boys, the perceived social dislocation of a marginalised member of a social class, and the class nature of the criminal justice systems.

In Barbados, a 52-year-old shoplifter, with a history of petty offences, was shot by an armed ‘security’ guard when he went stealing from a supermarket. He was sentenced to nine months. In Florida, a 17 year old teenage boy walking home from a 7-Eleven was targeted – racially profiled – by an over-zealous vigilante so-called neighbourhood watch ‘captain’, challenged, and shot ‘in self-defence.’

One jailed for being hungry and the other killed for being black. Welcome to the world of western liberal democratic criminal justice. Both these cases were the outcome of a fixed mind set, what the Jamaican intellectual Stuart Hall calls the steady drift in to a law and order society.

American society has its own problem, but I have raised the issue before and was taken to task when I said that there was no Caribbean or Barbadian jurisprudence or legal theory of worth. What was amazing about the case of 52-year-old David Blackman is that he was arrested, charged and brought before the courts within hours, while nothing appeared to have been done about the armed man. The apparent justification for the shooting is that when he attempted to apprehend the shoplifter he drew a knife and made to attack the guard and was shot in self defence.

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On The Brink Of ‘Anarchy’ – Think On These Things Barbados

Flashback to the Dudus Coke tension in Jamaica

All the signs have appeared that a Barbados society which not too long ago had well manicured lawns have become overrun with weeds. The news that several people assembled at the District A Magistrates Court this week – some to show support for those accused of the shooting at Gully Hill, Carrington Village on New Years Day –  is an ominous sign. A parallel can be made to what transpired on Monday  [9/1/2012] to how some Jamaicans reacted during the Dudus Coke affair.

Then there is the temptation to juxtapose what occurred at the Magistrate Courts with the news that a 6-year old impasse between principal Jeff Broomes of the Alexandra School and the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) has flared up. Can anyone guess who is the ‘party’ most affected by what is unfolding? The Children!

At a time when ‘swords’ are being drawn and sides taken in a matter which should have been resolved at a staff meeting so many years ago, what does it tell us? Here is a hint. Barbados is a country which has invested billions of dollars in educating its people and yet our educators are impotent to resolve a disagreement.

What would you say has been the return on the billion dollar investment if we were to judge by the Alexander transaction?