No better a time for introspection

We will not regard any great power as necessarily right in a given dispute unless we are convinced of this. Yet, at the same time, we will not view the great powers with perennial suspicion merely on account of their size, their wealth, or their nuclear potential. We will be friends of all, satellites of none.

–– Errol Barrow, Father Of Independence, First Prime Minister of Barbados, National Hero.

The Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, whom we so proudly quote above –– and whose other mantras of fortitude and prospect we have all echoed again and again –– would have been a disillusioned man were he here today in this month of Independence, when we salute and celebrate our abandonment of colonialism, our political freedom and our “newly found” resolve.

We have been –– and the powers would like us to think we continue to be –– a very well educated and healthy populace with most purposeful leaders. But are we indeed yet possessed of these attributes with which we weathered our economic and social storms in the past?

Can we honestly say in this 48th year of our Independence, in its anniversary month, just three days shy of the moment of official celebration that our manufacturing sector has been seeing growth? Our agricultural sector –– outside of the overgrown and gigantic pumpkins –– blooming at all? Law and order being respected today as it once was in the major?

Is our cultural heritage truly being recognized and respected, or merely being revitalized or jump-started for the month of November as a seasonal diversion and resurrected entertaining brouhaha?

Every effort is made yearly by those who should know better –– and by those who would not –– to confine our emotive folk music and less aggressive air to the NIFCA stage and Independence Month. These pummellers of our cultural melodies, of their own knowledge –– or devoid of any –– inflict such savagery on our natural strains, that the average young Barbadian now rubbishes our Bajan folk sound.

And we dare to pontificate on heritage!

Are we assuredly becoming a greener economy and habitat in an environment of public littering and chronic non-collection of piles and piles of garbage everywhere, whiler our Minister of the Environment subsumes himself in the same-sex and neuter gender debate?

How much more shall we despair over our national health care, and expect to rue the day of having to be admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, given the QEH’s budget challenges and the perennial lamentations of its CEO Dr Dexter James?

What true high standard of education is there today if its measurement is primarily by certification and little by way of clarity of thought, communicative expression, articulation and appropriate usage of English? What makes us so proud when the Chinese and Japanese speak the language better than we do?

Sadly, for all the highly degreed community we have become, we as a nation are worse now in the structuring of our English language, in its use for description and colour, and in the employment of its literary devices; and grammar is a bother, as green verbs give us distinction and first class honours –– even on radio.

Our tourism sector is being repositioned to rebound and weather further storms. Is it? Prime Minister Freundel Stuart recently pledged over drinks at Ilaro Court that Barbados will be going after that Canadian tourist market we once had. Will we? And when?

On Sunday and Monday, as we mark 48 years as an Independent nation, let us take some quiet time to reflect on the circumstances of pre-Independent Barbados and the thoughts, words and deeds of our forefathers who fought against many odds –– leading to our Independence –– and where we are right now.

Can we say we are of the mettle of those who paved our way to political freedom? And are we competent, efficient and dedicated enough to safeguard it for our progeny?

When the Minister of Transport and Works throws his hands up in the air in anguish –– seemingly more than that being suffered by the victims of White Hill in St Andrew –– because he has never been confronted with such a roadway challenge of correction and amelioration before, it speaks to a lack of vision and paucity of resolve and steadfastness.

A people look to their leaders for urgent answers and deliverance –– devoid of gobbledegook, verbiage, circumlocution and paralysis –– when circumstances, especially by the hands of Nature, are stacked against them. It is what leadership and a responsibility to the people are all about.

This will surely have been the superintendency our Father Of Independence envisioned and expected of those who would take up the national political mantle. At the heart of it has always been humanity.

A blessed Independence!

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