Errol Barrow, the first Prime Minister of Barbados, was a visionary leader who understood the importance of adapting the country’s economy to the changing times. His forward-thinking approach to agriculture serves as an inspiration for today’s leaders, especially when it comes to addressing the challenges of food security and dependence on imported food in small island developing states (SIDS) like Barbados.
Barrow’s leadership in the 1960s was marked by policies that aimed to boost the agricultural sector, such as encouraging land reform and providing support to small farmers. He also recognized the need to diversify the agricultural sector and encouraged farmers to grow a variety of crops, such as sugarcane, cotton, and fruits and vegetables. This helped to increase the resilience of the agricultural sector and made it less vulnerable to market fluctuations.
In a recent post @TheoGazerts, suggested that my mirror image of our country, at this critical juncture, would be interesting. My mirror image of the country has not dramatically changed over the last fifty years. I still see an extremely conservative people, afraid of our past and extremely timid about our future. Too many are devoted to a nostalgic period, which is not returning and even those who profess to want change usually wilt, when the enormity of engineering it is revealed.
There are many who have thrown an old bed sheet over the mirror to hide the image they do not want to see. We have moved away from Little England and are now apparently living comfortably in Little Brooklyn. An amazing irony, of creating the often-maligned Diaspora, right here in Bim!
The cultural penetration, that most progressive voices warned of in the sixties, has been realized and there is extraordinarily little, that successive administrations, have done to curb our enthusiasm for things foreign. Our collective image of Barbados is one littered with sunworshippers from the tips of St. Lucy to Christ Church. Even the utter devastation wrought by COVID, and the persistent tremors in so-called source markets, from where we hail the blistered bodies with specks of sand, have not deterred us from putting our already slender economic future in such sunburnt fun seekers. But that is who we are and more frighteningly, whom we want to be.
We dare not remove the old bed sheet. The image of a well-functioning political engine, as our Prime Minister, now considered, the shining light of the Caribbean and a global political influencer emerges. Adroit at entering the kitchen and recreating dishes, which have been long tried and left to freeze, thawing them out and declaring those new recipes for development. The classical image of skillfully warmed-over soup now dominates our mirror image.
It is the image of a country, that obviously depends on the political docility of its populace to embrace and endure, the corrupt and sinister collective leadership of two political parties, which have long emptied their bowels of any remote semblance of progressive socio-economic policies.
I still visualize, a new and vibrant citizen emerging from our current predicament, within the next quarter century. Our youth are showing exceptional talents in business, the arts, and all aspects of social and economic endeavors. In many instances their ability to overcome the obstacles are rooted in the fact that most of them inherited no generational wealth, to propel them to the next level.
The story that recently appeared in the local press of a six-year-old girl, selling her first piece of art, is the best way to sum up the hope of the nation. We must invest in the cradle our end up as old broke and broken citizens in the grave.
Those who may want to declare this piece as pessimistic and a warped sense of a fading nationalism, should remember that optimism devoid of realism, is nothing more than delusion. It is high time to remove the old bed sheet from over the mirrors and see it for what it is; and change it.
This coming Monday, the 21st of January 2019, is the 99th anniversary of the birth of Barbadian national hero Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, and will be celebrated in Barbados as “Errol Barrow Day” – a national public holiday.
In light of the recent happenings in the Organization of American States (OAS) when, on having to deal with a Resolution that purported to delegitimize the inauguration of Nicolas Maduro as President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, our CARICOM member states found themselves divided on the issue, with some of them voting for the Resolution, others voting against, and some abstaining, I would like to focus this tribute to Mr Barrow on his role as an architect of the concept of a collective CARICOM foreign policy.
It was at the historic Seventh Commonwealth Caribbean Heads of Government Conference held at Chaguaramas in Trinidad that the idea of converting the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) into a Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), as well as the idea equipping the new CARICOM with a collective foreign policy were born.
The date was October 1972, and at that time there were only four independent Commonwealth Caribbean nations : namely, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Barbados, and these newly independent states were led by Michael Manley, Eric Williams, Forbes Burnham, and Errol Barrow respectively.
It was a time of great tension in the affairs of the world – the United States of America (USA) was ablaze with anti-Vietnam war protests; the Black Power and anti-colonial challenges to national and international structures of domination were going strong; and the so-called “Cold War” between the USA and the Soviet Union was still at a dangerous peak.
Indeed, by 1972, the Caribbean had come to be regarded as one of the primary theatres of the “Cold War”, with the USA making every conceivable effort to isolate and subvert the revolutionary Fidel Castro-led government of Cuba.
We need to recall that when—in 1959—the Cuban Revolution triumphed, that the new revolutionary Cuban government entered a Western hemisphere environment that was organized around the OAS—a multi-lateral organization dominated by the USA and dedicated to a USA inspired anti-Communist mission.
Indeed, in 1954, at the instigation of a USA steeped in Mc Carthy era anti-Communism, the OAS had issued the “Declaration of Caracas” which declared that all Marxist revolutionary ideology was intrinsically alien to the Western Hemisphere, and that Marxist revolutionary movements were to be treated as foreign invasions of the Hemisphere.
It was not surprising therefore that as early as June 1959, the USA began pressing the OAS to take punitive actions against Cuba—a founder member of the OAS, but now led by a revolutionary socialist Government.
In August 1960, the USA not only orchestrated a condemnation of Cuba at the OAS on the ground of Cuba’s acceptance of economic assistance from the Soviet Union, but also urged Latin American states to break off diplomatic relations with Cuba – an urging that Venezuela and Colombia adhered to in 1961.
And then the “coup de grace” came in January 1962 when, at the 8th Consultative Meeting of OAS Foreign Ministers in Uruguay, the OAS suspended Cuba’s membership, thereby effectively expelling Cuba from the OAS!
This was then followed by the US compiling a so-called “black list” of all countries still trading with Cuba and threatening to cut off US economic and military assistance to them.
But even this was seemingly not enough for the anti-Cuba forces, and during the 9th Consultative Meeting of Foreign Ministers held in Washington DC in July 1964, a resolution was passed urging all governments of the Western Hemisphere to break diplomatic relations with Cuba.
And—sad to say—in the following years, every single Western Hemisphere nation except Mexico and Canada fell in line with the OAS stipulation and either broke diplomatic relations with Cuba or refused to recognize the revolutionary Republic of Cuba!
This then was the scenario facing the four independent Commonwealth Caribbean countries—all newly installed members of the OAS—in October 1972!
And, needless-to-say, the leadership of the OAS was insisting that the four new Caribbean member states must adhere to the by then well established, USA supported, policy of non-recognition and isolation of revolutionary Cuba.
The magnificent response of the Right Excellent Errol Barrow and his fellow Commonwealth Caribbean leaders—Manley, Williams and Burnham—was to issue the following historic Declaration:-
“The Prime Ministers of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, meeting together during the Heads of Government Conference at Chaguaramas, have considered the state of their relations with the Government of Cuba and the obligations which the OAS has sought to impose upon its members in regard to relations with that Government; and make the following statement:
(1) The independent English-speaking Caribbean states, exercising their sovereign right to enter into relations with any other sovereign state and pursuing their determination to seek regional solidarity and to achieve meaningful and comprehensive economic cooperation amongst all Caribbean countries will seek the early establishment of relations with Cuba, whether economic, diplomatic or both.
(2) To this end, the independent English-speaking Caribbean states will act together on the basis of agreed principles.”
Here then were the four smallest and youngest states of the entire Western hemisphere standing on principle; courageously speaking “truth to power”; and setting a noble and principled example for all the other nations of the hemisphere to follow!
Indeed, six months later—in April 1973 – Mr Barrow gave an address to the Empire Club of Toronto, Canada, and explained the significance of the unified Caribbean stance on Cuba as follows:-
“……we have managed in our four countries, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Barbados to sustain our independence to the extent that we were considered to have committed an act of defiance in October last year when we took a lead in the western hemisphere in deciding to open diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba, much to the chagrin of our neighbours to the north.
But it demonstrates that the developing countries can take a lead in conditioning the minds of people who should know better…………And I have no doubt that the other countries which are mightier and more powerful than the four small independent countries in the Caribbean will soon shamefacedly or not, have to follow suit……
And we cannot sit down in the Caribbean and wait for our strategy to be dictated or governed by the political or other economic or social prejudices of people in other countries because to entertain such a belief would be an abandonment of the sovereignty that we believe in and we have never subscribed to the doctrine of limited sovereignty. And I have been, myself, very firm right from the beginning of Barbados’ independence that we would be friends of all and satellites of none.”
Happy Errol Barrow Day to all my Barbadian and Caribbean brothers and sisters! Long may the spirit of Errol Barrow live in our beautiful sovereign Caribbean homeland!
On Wednesday, November 8, 2017 the Nation published a column captioned, “Not a pretty picture” by Dr. Frances Chandler. I generally agreed with much of what she had written. For the most part, she criticised many of the shortcomings of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), justifiably so in my opinion.
I was actually enjoying her contribution until three-quarters was through when she struck a discordant note that reflected popular belief, but did not accord with reality. She stated:
Another problem is that NIS staff are civil servants governed by Civil Service rules and even the positions are Civil Service positions rather than those that fit the Scheme’s requirements. A more appropriate structure is needed.
Apart from that statement being basically without merit, Dr. Chandler should explain what is wrong with Civil Service rules. Also, she should specify which of the Civil Service positions at NIS do not fit into the Scheme’s requirements. I am not nor have I constituted myself as defender of NIS staff. But I could not allow subtlety disparaging remarks about them in particular or the Public Service, generally, to go unanswered.
It is true that most of the posts assigned to NIS are general service posts, which mean that officers occupying those positions could be reassigned to any government department that has similar posts. It is also true that there are posts and job requirements that are uniquely NIS positions. Those functions are done nowhere else in the Public Service or in Barbados for that matter.
Persons appointed to those posts cannot be transferred without their consent. I refer specifically to the twenty-four insurance officers, of varying grades, and seventeen inspectors whose job is to ensure compliance with NIS regulations. And, as a matter of fact, one of the qualifications, specified in the 2016 Public Service (Qualifications) Order is the Executive Diploma in Social Security Management which was offered by the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill. This clearly demonstrates that there were attempts to create specialists in National Insurance, albeit they being public officers.
Dr. Chandler’s assessment of the NIS staff and Civil Service rules would appear to come from someone who has been misled by anecdotes, rather than from a sound knowledge of the Public Service. Mind you, she is in good company with her mischaracterisation of the Public Service. Out of frustration with the Civil Service bureaucracy, no lesser person than the Rt. Excellent Errol Barrow, then Prime Minister, disparagingly called the service an army of occupation.
That term has since been used, by persons who did not know its meaning, to disparage the Public Service. Mr. Barrow was a military man so when he called the service an army of occupation, he did not mean that there were lots of people being employed. He used the term as a soldier would have understood it. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “army of occupation” as an army sent to control the territory of a conquered enemy. He meant that the Civil Service was in control, and he set about to break that control, however, with devastating consequences.
Prior to Independence, Barbados functioned well as a bureaucracy, where elected officials set policy and the Civil Service implemented the policy directives, in accordance with the established rules, which required too many checks and balances for Barrow’s liking. Rather than spend time to revise the rules to eliminate the excessive red tape, he devised a way to bring the service under the control of politicians.
In 1974 the Constitution was amended to give the Prime Minister the right to be consulted on the appointment of permanent secretaries, heads of department and their deputies. In practice, however, that consultation ended up meaning that the PM would make the decision and the service commissions and Governor-General would rubber stamp the appointment.
That single act has led to the politicisation and destruction of the professional Public Service, where senior public officers now owe their loyalty to the political party that oversaw their appointments. As a result, the senior public officers, who should be managing the Public Service and making professional decisions in the best interest of the Barbados, have been replaced by politicians without the necessary skills to manage the affairs of the country.
It is therefore unfair to blame public officers at NIS or any other department for the mess that the politicians have created.
The premiere of a film of such national significance as “Barrow- Freedom Fighter” should automatically call forth a substantive critique by such entities as the national newspapers, the University, the Barbados Film and Video Association, the various Arts societies, and/or the many independent Barbadian scholars and academics. But since it would appear that none of these entities are prepared to do their duty to our society, I will essay a step into the breach and make an effort to critique this important film.
I would like to begin by giving credit to Mrs Marcia Weekes– the Executive Producer and Director of the docu-drama. Mrs Weekes is to be complimented for having had the vision and patriotism to recognize that the commemoration of Barbados’ 50th anniversary of Independence demanded the production of a major film on the subject of our people’s struggle to attain Independence / nationhood / sovereignty / freedom. Mrs Weekes is also to be complimented for having exhibited the will and determination to bring this project to fruition, and for striving for and achieving the very high international quality technical production standards that distinguish this new Bajan movie.
Indeed, Mrs Weekes’ contribution to the national effort to commemorate our country’s Golden Jubilee far outstripped our Government’s unimaginative staging of multiple mundane concerts, and their manifestly backward and reactionary parading of Britain’s Prince Harry at the supposedly climactic events of the year-long national commemoration.
The bad news however, is that “Barrow– Freedom Fighter” – in spite of its technical excellence– turned out to be a seriously flawed and deficient depiction of the life of the Right Excellent Errol Barrow.
Let us begin with the many omissions that marred the docu-drama.
If a movie is to do justice to the story of Errol Barrow as a “fighter” who helped pave the way to Barbados attaining Independence, then surely it must pay some attention to the several monumental battles that took place between Mr Barrow and the other acknowledged political titans of the day, as historic contests that shaped the contours of the great man’s career. Surely , the story of Errol Barrow’s career as a statesman cannot be properly told without dwelling to some extent on his battles with such other heavyweights as:-
Sir Grantley Adams – from 1952 to 1966, on a whole range of issues pertaining to relations with the colonial Governor , constitutional advancement of the then colony of Barbados, and the contest for electoral supremacy within Barbados;
Wynter Crawford and Erskine Ward – from 1965 to 1966, on the struggle waged by these powerful DemocraticLabour Party (DLP) Government Ministers within the Cabinet and inside the DLP itself to determine whether Barbados should go into Independence alone or persist with the effort to establish and lead a Federation of the Eastern Caribbean into Independence; and
Ernest Deighton Mottley – from 1965 to 1967, in the House of Assembly and in many a public meeting in the streets of Bridgetown over both the issue of “Independence alone or within a Federation” and the issue of whether Local Government structures (the locus of Mottley’s power) should be retained.
Regrettably, none of these major and historic Barbadian personalities of the day (with the exception of Mottley) are even mentioned by name, much less depicted, in the movie!
And please don’t tell me that there was not enough time to cover this ground in the movie, because more than twenty minutes of the docu-drama were devoted to the trivial issue of Mr Barrow’s love of food, while another sizeable portion of the film was squandered on Mrs Margaret Knight’s apparent obsession with the fact that when she served as Barrow’s personal secretary he once took objection to the manner in which she added punctuation marks to a letter he had drafted!
Furthermore, these were not the only omissions – there were also similar gaping omissions relating to the many persons who played seminal roles in the accomplishing of several achievements that the film misleadingly attributes to Barrow alone. For example, one simply cannot do justice to the story of the establishment of “Free SecondaryEducation” without at least referring to the contribution of one T.T. Lewis, nor to the story of the creation of the National Insurance Scheme without mentioning the critical contribution of the great Wynter Algernon Crawford. Yet this is precisely what the movie does!
GREAT MAN CONCEPT OF HISTORY
Indeed, the major flaw of “Barrow – Freedom Fighter” is that it serves to perpetuate the long debunked and discredited “Great Man” concept of history. Simply put, the movie leaves the viewer with the impression that the only person of true significance and agency during the “Barrow era” was Errol Barrow himself .
And I can give multiple examples of this. Just imagine – in a movie that purports to deal with national development in Barbados in the pre and post Independence years, there is no mention whatsoever of such close collaborators of Errol Barrow as Sir James (Cameron) Tudor or Brandford Taitt!
This is extremely unfortunate because, even while we rightfully credit Mr Barrow with being the maximum political leader who presided over this seminal period in our nation’s history, the reality is that he did not (and could not) do it alone.
There is a very great danger therefore that young impressionable Barbadians who view the movie will come away with the false impression that progress in a society is generated by the efforts of an individual “Great Leader”, rather than with an understanding that progress is the product of the commitment and actions of a multiplicity of engaged and active citizens.
TRIVIALIZING THE STRUGGLE
And then there is the problem of the trivializing of the struggle for Independence itself! According to the movie, the real drama in the struggle for Independence revolved around the British Secretary of State for the Colonies refusing to chair the England-based Barbados Constitutional Conference unless Mr Barrow first apologized for some comment that Barrow had allegedly made about him.
Surely, instead of focusing on this relatively trivial event, it would have been better to give viewers a sense of the long trajectory of the true struggle for Independence, ranging from the Bussa Rebellion of 1816, the People’s Uprising of 1937, the many popular (and often armed) anti-colonial rebellions that that took place throughout Africa in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, and to Mr Barrow’s own battles with the British Colonial Office during the long and tortuous struggle over the proposed Eastern Caribbean federation.
During the decade of the 1950’s the British Government made it clear that it had no intention of granting Independence to Barbados and their other Caribbean colonies in the foreseeable future. What caused the British Government to change its mind? The answer to this question is to be found in the heroic armed struggles that took place in Kenya, Algeria, Ghana, Cuba, the Congo, Rhodesia and South Africa, and the fear that these revolts aroused in the British that — just like in the 1930’s — similar struggles could once again take place in the Caribbean if they did not radically speed up the timetable for Independence.
Other elements of “trivializing” are to be found in Mrs Weekes’ decision to have a pioneering movie about the “father” of Barbadian Independence not only narrated by a North American, but to also have the Errol Barrow lead character played by an actor who is also essentially North American. This was truly unbelievable.
THE CLASS ISSUE
And then there is the class issue. A large part of the movie comprises interviews done with various residents or Citizens of Barbados, but in all the interviews done, no time or space was found for a single interview with a working class Barbadian! Apparently, while space could be found to accommodate opinions about Mr Barrow by such persons as Mrs. Ram Merchandani and Mr. and Mrs. Taan Abed, it was not found possible to ask a single ordinary working class Barbadian– not even a resident of Mr Barrow’s St John constituency– their opinion of this exceptional Barbadian.
The class issue also reared its head in the portrayals of the various members of the 1966 House of Assembly. All but one of the MPs were portrayed as serious persons. For some reason, the only MP who was portrayed as a comical clown who indulged in belching loudly in the House of Assembly was the quintessential working class Parliamentarian LLoyd “Boy Child” Smith. Why are we in Barbados still at the stage where we conceive of working class Barbadians as easy sources of farce and comedy?
I began this critique by giving Mrs Marcia Weekes credit for making the effort to produce a pioneering biographical movie about the great Errol Barrow, but unfortunately I have to end my critique with the conclusion that the effort was something less than successful. In my opinion there are simply too many flaws in the movie for it to qualify as a satisfying depiction of the life and record of our “Father of Independence”.
But, maybe “Barrow– Freedom Fighter” can be regarded as a valiant first attempt that will inspire other intrepid Barbadian film-makers to, as the Americans say, step up to the plate, follow Mrs Weekes’ lead, and make the effort to produce not only the definitive Errol Barrow movie, but all of the other essential local biographical docu-dramas that Barbados so desperately needs and deserves.
Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow labelled the Civil Service an army of occupation.
The late prime Minister, Mr. Errol Barrow, singlehandedly turned the public against our public servants by declaring them “an army of occupation”. Barrow was known for literally inflicting fear in those public servants, who refused to bend to his crude form of professional and political bullying.
We are a strange country that expects to plant okra and reap peppers, even if we live outside of the Scotland district! As we developed, the need for a well educated and vibrant public service became vital to our development. Any serious objective analysis of our public service will reveal that it is perhaps, along with the growth of the trade union movement, the pillar on which modern Barbados was built.
While some may correctly point to the often ignored reports of the Auditor General, we cannot ignore that the lack of information forwarded to his office and the several negatives that he points out annually, are the result of widespread political actions and not any proven corruption, on the part of civil servants. We are quite aware that no civil servant “pushing paper” can seriously take on the political sharks known as government ministers, who have their party operatives well placed to ensure that the results they want are achieved.
It should also be obvious that by failing to reform the public sector, the political managerial class has created a service that can no longer effectively and efficiently serve the public. Hence when John or Ann Public goes to get his or her driving license renewed, they are incensed that they have to wait a couple of hours and then told to “come back” tomorrow. John Public fails to understand that the civil servants are working under archaic leadership, with equally archaic systems that should have been abandoned three decades ago.
In order to place more fire and brimstone on our public servants, the public often compares them with our private sector. This is a grievous mistake because in terms of modern management, innovation and corporate best practices, our private sector is the worst in the region. There is a reason why the Trinidadian corporate train has arrived. Our private sector is retail oriented and averse to serious risk taking. It is known as whiners and sophisticated beggars. It is only now ridding itself of proven racist practices in securing its top management. It is now abandoning all the interlocking directorships and other well known maladies with which it was afflicted since the abolition of slavery.
In a nutshell, both the public sector and the private sector are in need of progressive reform. One of the biggest mistakes made by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) was to become the concubine of the Democratic Labour Party. In many instances, that relationship has critically damaged its standing with the public.
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].
Barbados is about to celebrate 48 years of Independence (whatever that means). You will read a lot of trite proffered by well meaning Barbadians in the days to come. The BU picture gallery clearly confirms that Barbados has made quantum strides in physical development.
The speeches by Sir Grantley Adams, son Tom and the late Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow question our execution of the vision our leaders of the past had for Barbados other than physical development.
Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart won the head to head match up with Arthur in 2013.
Mia: ah hay Dipper tell you to form a national unity gouvment Fruendel: well, I was tinking that Owen would have been a better partner. Dipper seemed to feel so …………. Mia: Tom like he would agree too. But I is the maximum boss now, not Owen. He would never be able to overthrow me again! Fruendel: the boys down under got other plans fuh he. Well, we can consider dah idea for the country. Like the social partnership, but deeper, as deep as Dipper use to dip and broader. The boys from down dey tink we could deepen we personal relationship too, yuh know. Mia: but you aint got nuh wife Fruendel: and you aint got nuh husband Mia: so are you suggesting a powah alliance that is not merely political
The recent debate public forum style, on Saturday at Springer Memorial School, amplifies what we most feared. Barbados is at a cross roads. “The outcome of the next general elections will decide our fate. We will either continue nonchalantly or dare to make difficult decisions“…
Barbados of past, has shown the international community through its sustained economic prudence and masterful sound principles in governance, that it was once worthy of the name Gem of the Caribbean. This economic prowess which was conjured, was matched only by larger Caribbean countries the likes of oil rich, Trinidad and Tobago, and bauxite laden Jamaica and Guyana.
Likewise were its leaders, who played the most important part of steering the ship through rough and uncharted waters, always fighting to find dry harbour and never abandoning ship nor crew. We were fortunate to have had the foresight and guidance of many great men and celebrated astute leadership.
Introduction: Barbados is a society where the rich and poor conspire to fool themselves: the rich that they have no responsibility for the poor, the poor that they have a better standard of living than they really do. The reality is that Barbados is one society with two peoples, divided by their suspicion and mistrust of each other.
It is a society in which a university degree substitutes for real learning, real progress, a real decent standard of living has become an aspiration for all its people, even if an achievable one. However, mainly in the post-independence years, the rot has set in, politics has become the management of decline. But it was not always so. In the 1950s, Barbados had one of the highest standards of living in the Commonwealth, and thus in the world. By any measure, the worn out cliché about our punching above our weight was really true. Back then Singapore was a swamp that even Malaysia did not want, India was a giant slum, the whole of Latin America was bogged down with military repression and aggressive racism. We had escaped the stultifying austerity of post-war Britain, which only had its heavy industrial might to rescue it. We had sugar and tourism, but most of all a high-spirited people who believed in themselves.
Acknowledged Father of Independence (l) succeeded by one who transitioned Barbados to the 'modern economy' (r)
Rather than have to think about my crime, I’d prefer to be completely unconscious – MACBETH
As once one of the more rapid evolving Third World countries, Barbados in past years has shown the world (once envied by Singapore) its sustained economic prudence and masterful copying of the Westminster style Government and laws aptly earning the nickname Little England. This economic prowess which was conjured, was matched only by larger Caribbean communities the likes of oil rich, Trinidad and Tobago, and bauxitegold laden Jamaica and Guyana.
Likewise were its leaders, who played the most important part of steering the ship through rough and uncharted waters, always finding safe harbour and never abandoning ship. Men the likes of Grantley Adams, Errol Walton Barrow, JMGM ‘Tom’ Adams and more recently Owen Seymour Arthur to name but a few have, all left a legacy of astute and celebrated leadership, that has borne fruit for this country.
Prime Ministers were looked up to for advice and direction in times of chaos. One could rest assured with the country in the hands of such men, that there would always be a solution to a problem and a phrase of long lasting remembrance….”friends of many , satellites of none “.
How things have changed. We were always occasioned protection from the WOLVES who at many times came to our doors, with sinister plans and cohorts to disadvantage the Barbadian. With our then leaders, we could rest assured, that they would be right on hand to swiftly drive any such blackguards and bandits back to the shores from which they came, restoring peace and order to the country.