Change must happen – Sir Hilary
Barbados cannot continue the way it is.
The warning was issued by Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies Professor Sir Hilary Beckles as he delivered a lecture here last night.
He said the current situation in which there was white supremacy and black marginalization in the local economy was simply not sustainable.
Sir Hilary was at the time delivering the 31st Elsa Goveia Lecture at the CLICO Centre for Teaching Excellence at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, St Michael.
Speaking on the topic, The Revolution of General Bussa and the Making of Barbados Today, Sir Hilary also lauded the leadership of National Hero and Father of Independence Errol Walton Barrow, as he spoke of the indecisiveness of today’s leaders.
“This was a moment of leadership, the people were still fearful and when a people are fearful because of their history, they require leadership, not referenda.”
Sir Hilary said: “ There is in Barbados a division of labour which says that the black community will occupy and control the politics and the white elite will control the economy, and this is supposed to be an alliance for democracy.
“The argument is that the revolutionary struggle has come to an end and this is the end of history . . . [However] the Barbados society in its current structure is not sustainable,” Sir Hilary warned.
He added: “Economic white supremacy is subversive of democracy, it is not sustainable. All of us citizens of Barbados have to examine this model and transform it. It has to be transformed in order to fulfill the vision of our ancestors in General Bussa’s time, General Greene’s time of 1876 and Clement Payne’s time of 1937. It can only be done if the economic democracy movement is revitalized and insisted upon,” he added.
Sir Hilary, who is regarded as one of the region’s top historians, contended that young Barbadians deserved a more democratic society.
He argued that a high price had already been paid for freedom and democracy and that reparatory justice was still critical on behalf of black nationalists who fought for the liberation of Afro-Barbadians and had to contend with treachery from persons in whom they had placed their trust.
Recalling a critical period in this country’s history, he told his audience which included world acclaimed Barbadian novelist George Lamming and retired historian Sir Woodville Marshall that General Bussa, who led the slaves into revolt, was betrayed first by the free-coloureds at a battle in Lowthers, Christ Church and later by the Black troops of the West Indian Regiment at Golden Grove Plantation and Bayley’s Plantation in St Philip.
Sir Hilary went on to say that in 1937, leader of the nationalist movement of that period, Clement Payne, had to contend with the treachery of the negrocrats of the day.
He also pointed out that Barrow faced strong opposition from the white community and some elements of the emerging middle class in his drive for nationhood.
“The independence movement in Barbados was divided. The white community on the whole did not support independence. Barrow was fearful that the black people were fearful and he knew that if he had placed independence before the people of Barbados in a referendum they would have rooted to stay as a colony. He did not trust the vote for independence and so he said, no referendum.”