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.
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.