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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.”

5 Responses to Change must happen – Sir Hilary

  1. Tony Webster April 23, 2016 at 4:51 am

    I agree: that S-O-B Cromwell who exported my great, great, great, great, great, (and poor) grand-father John Webster from London , (a listed John Webster on the “William and Mary’s” passenger manifest, just because he was a slightly-guilty pick-pocket (or an inconvenient political opponent of Cromwell’s- I forget which) …yes, He and his ilk yet owe me Big-Time for Indentured Servitude; and the shame and disgrace accorded to suceeding generations of us Backra Johnnies/Poor-Whites/ Red-Legs- even unto this very day!

    Please Sir Hilary: Who, exactly, is to do What, exactly, and by When, exactly?

    BTW: I have posed a mutitude of questions to Prof. Pedro Welch, as Chair of The Barbados Reparations efforts/group, in an open letter on, since early last year, to which he inferred he would respond . No response so far. Hmm… he has just Passed The Baton- both literally and figuratively- to the nice lady from Guyana. Hmmm….very convenient, I suppose.
    You might consider assisting him, exactly, in the Hurculean effort required to respond?

  2. jrsmith April 23, 2016 at 9:19 am

    I am yet to be convinced what black history offered us , what part of this history is teaching us , and what good this history has done for us. The only persons benefited from the black mans history is the white man.past centuries and is still benefiting today…
    I am totally in agreement with (Sir Hilary)Barbados in its current structure ,is not sustainable… his words….my adding this has become disastrous and is heading for an implosion, but so to the region the same. countries like Barbados with black governments seems not to take up , on the free education which the wide world delivers to us all daily..

    Our Barbados a small island is so top heavy with a non productive political infrastructure, but yet everything has basically collapsed or collapsing day after day.. Barbados could have 50 new political parties, but they are all going to fail before they get off the ground..
    3 major issues has gutted the 2 party political system in Barbados and even the politicians themselves ,haven’t the logic to see the same has happen in many countries. Our Government ,try this ,try that policies and hope something would work…that’s why Barbados is there for the taking but not by bajans. We have become a guinea pig island for the failing Corporates with they bad management…

  3. Byron April 24, 2016 at 2:21 am

    Interesting lecture. I didn’t know the Caribbean suffers from a racial problem. I always thought the problem was a ‘class’ problem. But given the picture panted by Prof, I now have to rethink. For a moment, I thought the Prof was talking about the situation here in South Africa, where Whites control the economy and Blacks control the politics. The racial divide here in South Africa is much present there in Barbados. Am sure this extends to include other Caribbean nation too.

    I would like to see the same stance that the Caribbean took on the apartheid situation, be done to the White elite in the caribbean, and Barbados in particular. Let’s have sanctions on them. Lol. But it’s traject to read such in this day and age. Perhaps, the colonial mindset has not been killed after all, and this is what we see in the West Indies cricket governance. Who should do what by when? Am in.

  4. Donna Harewood April 26, 2016 at 12:55 am

    Mr. Beckles is correct. Something has to give. I have no idea how, who or by what process. I just know that we have to continue the struggle. It is not over.

  5. Andrew Rudder April 26, 2016 at 10:45 am

    The first mile begins with the first step and that is to say; Barbadians or rather black Barbadians need to be more cooperative with each other. We Barbadians tend to be very authoritative in our managing style in a Democratic styled country, this style has only a one way line of communication whereas a well educated, informed work force and management body offers a better input for successful economic growth. The financial institutions in Barbados need to do more in marketing groups of interesting individuals with similar goals into busyness projects which are sustainable and economically viable. With out this intervention our youth will be left in the doldrums.


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