EDITORIAL - Guardians of our heritage
Tomorrow marks Barbados’ 51st anniversary of Independence.
This occasion is significant to the country’s citizens for many different reasons. For some, the holiday is a deserved day away from work and time to spend with the family, possibly taking in the annual parade of military and non-uniformed forces at the Garrison Savannah. For others, especially those in the Diaspora who cannot be here to experience the local festivities, November 30th is more a time to reflect on what it means to be an independent country and on the social developments on the island since 1966.
In terms of achievements, the major one is undoubtedly the long tradition of free and fair elections and a commendable democratic system that allows for the airing of grievances, shared political views, protests, and transparency amongst those in office and in state departments. This has allowed members of the population to go to the polls over the decades to vote in representatives from the two main political parties, resulting in both the current government, the Democratic Labour Party, and the current opposition, the Barbados Labour Party, holding the reins. Considering that we in Barbados have the privilege and right to vote, when millions of people across the globe are fighting every day and losing life and limb for the chance to cast their ballot, we should all be proud of this country and the fact that it achieved its independence and continued to make strides after as well.
In addition to this, there are several social benefits that we as citizens enjoy that we should give thanks for when reflecting on Barbados’ independence; for instance, the support of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), the relatively free health care and pharmaceutical assistance provided by the state, the free primary and secondary schooling provided, as well as the free transportation for schoolchildren.
Apart from the social advances, there have also been particular individuals who have set themselves apart as cultural and sporting icons, who carry the Barbadian flag high and help spread the image of what it means to be a “Bajan”.
First and foremost is National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers. Considered one of cricket’s greatest all-rounders, Sir Garfield placed this country on the international radar in sports with his stellar performances on field. This tradition of sporting excellence continued throughout the years in younger athletes like Olympic bronze medalist Obadele Thompson, World Championship gold medalist Ryan Brathwaite, record-breaking jockey Patrick Husbands, and up-and-coming sportspersons like Chelsea Tuach, Jalon Samuel and Darren Matthews.
When it comes to culture, none can argue that Anthony “Mighty Gabby” Carter and Stedson “Red Plastic Bag” Wiltshire are the bedrock of this country’s musical traditions. Yet, this arena has also seen the emergence of amazing talent, too many to note. None though has risen to the heights of international super star Robyn Rihanna Fenty. Known across the globe and in billions of households, this award-winning recording artist, performer, actress, fashion mogul and philanthropist not only has her roots in Bim, but proudly celebrates and highlights her homeland on the international stage at every opportunity. To this end she was made Barbados’ cultural ambassador and is used to help promote our crucial tourism industry.
And it is for this reason that Rihanna will be honoured tomorrow with the renaming of her childhood place of residence from Westbury New Road, to Rihanna Drive. As the great Irving Burgie once penned, so it remains to this day – all Barbadians are writing their names on history’s page, but Rihanna, like so many other young stars, are undeniably guardians of our future heritage and are etching this country’s fate through their craft.
We support them all for their positive achievements and continued efforts. Happy Independence!췿