Ally of all, no blind fan of any

He was a steadfast nationalist and loyal defender of Barbadian autonomy.

A stout advocate of Caribbean sovereignty, he passionately opposed any foreign

power interfering in the political affairs of Barbados and the region.

And as such came to be seen as one of the giants of Caribbean leadership.

Such a man was Errol Walton Barrow, whose birthday we celebrate

tomorrow, Tuesday, January 21.

Most deserving of the day of honour, this National Hero of Barbados

earned his gargantuan national stature from the very early days of his ongoing

commitment to Barbadian Independence from British rule, which saw fruition

on November 30, 1966, and his ardent advocacy of the Caribbean’s ability to

become a prosperous region, based on its own human and mineral resources,

rather than on the contemptibly and disreputably donated external handouts

–– with their caveats and codicils.

Unknown for gaudiness and ostentation, this man in his meteoric rise to

prominence would serve as an inspiration to other Barbadians that eschewing

pomp and boast was no hurdle to meaningful and lasting success, and that

dedication to worthwhile goals could be of consequential benefit to both

country and self.

And, Errol Barrow’s deep-seated engagement with achieving Barbadian

Independence would have come as little or no surprise, since he was born

–– on January 21, 1920 –– into a family of political activists (uncle Dr Charles

Duncan O’Neal among them) from whom he took his nationalist cue.

Staunch nationalist and advocate of Barbadian autonomy that he would

become, he would however succumb to a diversion –– the World War II

effort –– despatching himself into the British Royal Air Force. Thenceforth, the

young Barrow would studied law at the Inns of Court and pursue a degree

sin economics at the London School of Economics in England.

It was about this time that Errol Barrow would sharpen his skills and tweak

his dreams for the task back home.

Returning to Barbados in 1950 with an energized passion for political and

social economics, he involved himself in several political pursuits. He ran for

the St George seat in Parliament on the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) ticket,

becoming an MP one mere year after his return.

By 1955 dissatisfied with many of the BLP’s policies and programmes, Errol

Barrow would take others with him to form what he deemed the more liberal

socialist Democratic Labour Party (DLP). But it would cost him his St George

Parliament seat in the 1956 general election. Charismatic as he was, he would

be back in the House of Assembly within two years after successfully contesting

a by-election in the parish of St John, where he remained its representative

until his sudden death in 1987 at the age of 67.

Errol Barrow would become Premier of Barbados after the DLP’s sweeping

victory in the December 4, 1961 general election. As Premier, he pursued

a crash programme of public works –– including construction for some

30 industries, the institution of better wages and working conditions for

agricultural labourers, and the expansion of free secondary education in all

Government schools. All this was done as Errol Barrow paved his way towards

Barbados’ Independence, a goal severely criticized then by the Opposition

Barbados Labour Party, but reached nonetheless by the DLP Government on

November 30, 1966.

One the critical high points of Prime Minister Barrow’s tenure was his

antinomy towards what he perceived as Washington’s patronizing interaction

with the Caribbean island nations at the time –– and its meddling with their

internal affairs.

Some of us will recall the dispute between Barbados and America over the

use of the United States Naval Facility in St Lucy and the clearly expressed

wariness by the Prime Minister over the reach of Washington policy towards

the island. And Errol Barrow was moved to put to the House of Assembly

that the United States was guilty of “destabilizing” his Government, as it was of

those of Guyana and Jamaica.

Consequently, the United States Naval Facility property would be

returned to its original owners, the people of Barbados, after which Errol

Barrow increased the annual rent of the facility to a staggering US$20 million.

Washington would soon afterwards close the site because it had become

“technically obsolete”.

Our National Hero was even wary of our regional security scheme

“contrived in Washington”. Such was the man who stuck firmly to the belief

that Barbados could be a friend of all, but a satellite of none.

A worthy thought to mull upon tomorrow Errol Barrow Day!

One Response to Ally of all, no blind fan of any

  1. Freeagent January 22, 2014 at 8:31 am

    I trust that the Hon. Errol Walton Barrow is resting in peace.

    Mr. Barrow had a vision for Barbados and it is a pity that some of the social programmes that he had instituted have to come to an end as we can no longer sustain these programmes. When free education was introduced many of us who could not afford to pay for our education grasped the opportunity to make use of what was offered. We went to school and MOST of us tried our best and did well. Today a lot of our children seem to think that things are free so they have to make no sacrifices. They destroy school property including text books, they destroy the buses and seem to have no regard that these things have to be paid for.

    Mr. Barrow took many of us women out of the fields by constructing factories and offering incentives to investors so that we could find alternative means of employment. Today many of our young girls leave school without any qualifications and are mothers to two or three children before reaching the age of twenty.

    Mr. Barrow gave us an opportunity to live in government owned houses and this seem to have created deviance among some residents.

    We Barbadians can say THANK YOU to Mr. Barrow but the time has come for us to shoulder some of our responsibilities. There are some pockets of poverty in the island but the majority of us can say that we are not suffering. Some of us who are suffering have brought the suffering on ourselves. We need to look and see what things that are important in our lives. Education is important. We have opportunities, let us embrace them. Everyone is not an academic but there are other areas of endeavour that we can pursue. Clothes and jewellery do not make us who we are. Honesty, integrity and hard work make us good citizens.

    Let us all respect and remember what Mr. Barrow did for us.


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