Celebrating our best!
Wed, 04/27/2016 - 12:00am
TOMORROW is National Heroes Day.
This is the day when we as a country pause and focus on the contribution of the ten Barbadians who have left a mark on the development of this island, as it is today.
Our National Heroes span a cross-section of key areas of Barbadian life and we should examine and honour their significance in charting this country’s evolution from a colony to nation-state, through hard-work, perseverance and a vision which effectively stated that we can achieve and maintain greatness if we are committed to the common cause of building a sound Barbados for this and future generations.
Therefore, it should not be too much to suggest that the discussion about National Heroes should be on-going. Barbados, as a nation-state, has benefited from people of all walks of life contributing to the overall construction of the tapestry and fabric of this island. Thus, we should look at the possibility in our 50th anniversary year, that others be considered for inclusion on this esteemed list.
We are now a mature democracy. Fifty years is significant and that only represents self-government, but this island is also marking 377 years of Parliamentary rule, consequently we should celebrate our achievement, especially in light of the fact that it has been done largely through peaceful means. We have disagreements which are settled amicably and elections are held and power, if transferred, is done without incident. It is something which must be applauded.
However, in the case of the possible expansion of the list of National Heroes, maybe the time has come to ask Barbadians about their views. Engage, those who bear witness to the development of this country about their views – who do they see as championing the change which we enjoy as part of what makes us great as a country.
I again, refer to a point which was made during the 375th Anniversary of Parliament lecture that the list is not over. In fact, it was stressed that as this country matures, there will be the need to add to this list. One suggestion was for Wynter Crawford to be added to the list. A major pre-eminent figure who contributed to the development of the current political structure in this island, he of course should be at the top of the list. I will leave the other deliberations to those who will endeavour to make a case – in one direction or another.
What I will say is that we should also look at the school teacher, or the bus driver, maybe someone who had a key role in the development of the tourism sector or international business.
This country flourishes when we see a path forward. Therefore, it is our role as citizens to speak up and out on pertinent issues but always being mindful of maintaining the discipline which has ensured that this small geographical space continues to shine like a beacon. Despite what many have said recently, Barbados is not in decline, in fact if we believed this line of thinking in years past, we would still exist in a post-colonial state of self-doubt.
Imagine if the Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, had doubted his view that Barbados was not ready to stand on its own two feet and make it in the world, competing with the ‘big boys’. Imagine if he had suggested that Barbados was not a leader in CARICOM, lending its voice to key issues of trade, finance and development.
If history is a guide, Barbados would not have been successful unless successive administrations had not committed themselves to ensuring that the gains of previous leaders are built upon and used for future generations to prosper from. The challenges were great. Despite, limited land-space and resources, our people, given opportunities were able to thrive and compete with the world’s best. That is not by accident.
Should the Right Excellent Sir Grantley Adams or the Right Excellent Sir Frank Walcott, not have made the contributions they made, because nay-sayers were vocal? Quite the opposite, every major development has detractors. It is up to leaders to have resolve to advance these things into implementation.
It is what makes the ongoing debate so interesting over the Bussa Rebellion of 1816. What if the leaders then, looked at what we argue about now? Back then, the philosophical arguments had personal ramifications. It was literally life and death and being seen as people who had no rights, but the actions taken by those brave men and women, ensured that the status quo was shaken to its core and two decades later the system itself changed for the better.
The tone of our political discourse is worrying. Too often, we miss the core principal that we must all be working towards a common objective – to ensure that this country remains stable and prosperous. Granted the disagreement will be on how we get there.
That does not mean that we engage in the politics of destruction. We all have to live here regardless of which party holds office and I have noticed that in the lead-up to the next general elections, we are seeing a hardening of positions and support on both sides with little room for compromise. That is a dangerous proposition because hard feelings can result in a disconnect when results are announced. We need our people in the political process and fully engaged.