Love for law and politics
University of the West Indies Cave Hill (UWI)
Barbados Community College (BCC)
Bachelor of Law (Enrolled)
Masters in International Trade Policy
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Law
Associate Degree in Mass Communications
Occupation:Trade and communications consultant/Law Student.
If a friend of yours was standing in a group giving a short summary of who Andwele was, what would they say? Andwele is a very intelligent young man. He never falters for an opinion on anything. He’s a fighter and a survivor and a fine resource to have. He also happens to be a very good communicator and strategist.
What four words best describe you?
Perseverant, empathetic, articulate, kind.
After secondary school, you enrolled in the Mass Communication programme at BCC. What was the thought process behind this decision? What were your goals at the time?
As a child who grew up voraciously reading and falling in love with words, and in a house where news and current affairs were always hot topics, I naturally wanted to become a broadcast journalist.
In 2007 you worked as an Intern Journalist at Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC). Did the Mass-Com. Programme adequately prepare you for such an internship and what was your greatest moment of that internship?
The internship was actually a part of the programme. My favourite part was seeing the news gathering process up close and contributing to it. I was then and still am a huge news junkie and so getting to sit in a newsroom everyday alongside some of the region’s finest journalists and learning from them was quite the experience.
My favorite experience was meeting Sir Shridath Ramphal, who at the time was giving his frank assessment of CARICOM developments and whose deep commitment and frankness to the region were refreshing. I remember him saying regional leaders on a trip to the White House were hoodwinked and bamboozled. Interestingly, the Centre for Trade Policy and Law for which I gained my Master’s is named in Sir Shridath’s honour.
In 2008 you had the opportunity to intern at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), this time as a journalist and a broadcaster. What did your role entail and if given the option, which area would you choose? Being a journalist or a broadcaster and please state why.
I would really like to do both and work at the intersection of my interests. The ideal thing would be to be the host of a news and current affairs driven morning show, with the typical breakfast show elements — food, and fashion and fun – but also an opportunity to report from the field and tell stories particularly those no one is telling.
Some young people shy away from internships because generally they don’t pay. Given your experiences from the internships mentioned above as well as from your time at the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), why would you encourage young persons to enroll in internships?
Internships, if managed well (and mine were), provide valuable experience and insight into your chosen field. It is important that you enter into internships with the willingness to learn and grow. Apart from the substance of your chosen field, they provide you with the chance to understand the corporate environment from the inside. Importantly, many of the critiques of our young people and how they comport themselves at work perhaps come as a result of not understanding the world of work; something an internship could remedy.
From Mass Communication at BCC to undergraduate studies in Political Science and Law at UWI. What influenced this transition?
To tell the truth, I just was not ready to leave home. Although I was accepted to a number of media and communications programmes outside of Barbados, at the time I just wanted to be home. As someone who had spent extended periods away for medical treatment, I was not desirous of leaving at that time and so I made the decision to study Politics and Law (as Politics and Law are also two of my loves) with the intent of returning to Communications for Postgrad.
Having completed your Bachelor’s degree, you enrolled in a Master’s programme to study International Trade Policy. This subject seems to be attracting many students. Why is that? What exactly is International Trade Policy and what does it entail?
Part of the attraction to International Trade Policy as a field is the dynamism and nuance of the sector. It is interrelated to many domestic sectors and has the ability to, if managed well, buttress our local economy. Internal trade policy is the study of the rules and policies that govern our import and export sectors, our membership in the WTO and other various developmental questions.
You are currently enrolled in the LLB programme at UWI. Is it safe to assume your goal is to practice law and would you ever run for political office?
I don’t think it’s safe to assume anything given the lineage and diversity of my path so far. However, if I do practice law, it will be in the fields of international trade and international human rights. As it relates to political office, never say never. However, elected office requires a patience which I don’t currently have. The vagaries of public discourse and intellectual dishonesty in the interest of political expediency are not things I would do well with.
If you are going to be marooned on an island, what four things would you carry?
I kinda want to carry four people instead but fine . . . . I would carry a cellphone, a solar charger, a tent, and a sleeping bag.
If you were a super hero, what would your name be and what special powers would you have?
I would be Captain Inclusion. I would save the world from discriminatory practices and policies that make the lives of marginalized communities difficult.
If you had a ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
South Africa. Well, I originally wanted to meet Nelson Mandela in his homeland. He has now passed but his legacy definitely lives on and has shaped a country. I want to stand where he stood and see what he saw. I want to be inspired in a way that I believe only Mandela’s footprint and perspective can do.
You have started and also contributed to various advocacy programmes over the years. Share with us your involvement with the UNFPA.
I was regional youth adviser for a few years and one of the major projects was a Sexual and Reproductive Health programme in partnership with the Barbados Council for the Disabled that trained young persons with disabilities on sexual health. It was a fascinating experience because of the taboos we have about sex in general and our misconceptions about sex and persons with disabilities.
The first time we met was at the Summit of the Americas held in Trinidad. I know you have also represented Barbados in Guyana, The Bahamas and St. Lucia. What events did you attend in these countries and what role did you play?
Many of these travels were as a result of my role as UNFPA National Youth Adviser. My Bahamas trip was to the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Conference where I covered the event for the UNFPA’s website and I also presented. I attended meetings in Guyana and St Lucia.
In 2011, you were a TEDX Speaker. What was the focus of your presentation?
My TedEx speech focused on inclusiveness and how the exclusion of particular individuals on the basis of class, race, sexual orientation is an impediment on our development as a country and how it is our unique challenge and opportunity to fix this particular moral nuance.
You were born with the condition cerebral palsy. Can you define for us this condition and what are some of the challenges a person with this condition may experience on a day-to-day basis?
Cerebral palsy affects my fine motor skills, thus my ability to write and my gait. Schooling was difficult from the perspective of having to write just about everything but more so the perception that someone with a disability could not achieve academic success in the way that it is traditionally defined.
Having a disability is a challenging experience but it has in no way deterred or stopped you from achieving. From using a wheelchair to walking with a cane to walking without a cane to completing your Associate Degree, Bachelor’s and Master’s to traveling and representing Barbados. What motivates you and keeps you going?
The ability to make my parents proud is definitely fuel for the journey. I, however, have an insatiable will to win.
What advice would you give to parents of children with disabilities as to how they can help their children achieve?
Never limit them and be prepared to fight anyone who attempts to. It is a remarkable thing to recognize that you have people fighting for you. It’s also fundamentally important for parents of children with disabilities to teach them to be their own best advocates in whatever ways they can. And also let them be children who have fun and are joyous and troublesome and complicated like every other child.
Just a random question. What do you think of the USA elections?
It simultaneously entertains and worries me. However, the rhetoric in this campaign is a reflection that all over the world from Britain to CARICOM, we are becoming more nationalist, exclusionary and dogmatic and that’s nothing to laugh at.
What do you love most about yourself?
My confidence. My will to survive. My drive. My passion for the things that I love. My ability to articulate very clearly what I want to convey. I also think I’m hilarious – not sure how many other people believe this but I crack me up!
Who would you like to thank for contributing to your development and success?
My parents and my brothers for sacrificing and believing in my abilities when an entire society told them that as a child with a disability, I should be limited in what I could achieve. This never resonated. I was treated in a way that I only remember as inclusive and propelling.
Also David Jordan who is the best mentor, advice-giver and inspiration I could ask for. My closest friends, Dwayne, Rashad, and Ron who individually give something to laugh at every day and who never hesitate to prop me up on my bad days.
This is turning into an academy awards speech but every time I am asked this question, I try to remember and mention some of the many other persons who have been there along this journey. Gracelene and Donna who worked with my mum and who have been at our side every single step of the way. Their support has been and continues to be invaluable.
My inspirations in media and communications are: Clenell Wickham, Al Gilkes, Allyson Leacock, Carol Roberts, Wayne Simmons.