Sir Hilary urges politicians to take a break

Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Professor Sir Hilary Beckles has urged Barbadian politicians to take a break from the job and search for new vitality and fresh energy in order to ensure the island’s black population gain economic independence during the next 50 years of political independence.

Vice-Chancellor, Sir Hilary Beckles, delivering the Leo Leacock lecture.
Vice-Chancellor, Sir Hilary Beckles, delivering the Leo Leacock lecture.

The administrator of the Caribbean’s premier learning institution suggested on Tuesday evening that on the eve of the nation’s 50th anniversary of independence the country’s leaders appear exhausted and bereft of ideas to provide the required economic empowerment.

Delivering the 7th Annual Leo Leacock Lecture, Beckles traced Barbados’ history of the use of legislation over hundreds of years to prohibit the majority of the black population from business involvement, but noted that despite the success of independence blacks remained marginalized from commerce.

The Leo Leacock lecture was among the programme of events for the Small Business Association’s (SBA) annual week of activities, and Beckles told SBA members and supporters gathered at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination that the legacy of black business marginalization was still being passed down from generation to generation.

“The majority of people like yourselves do not feel empowered when you enter commercial places to discuss the projects’ proposals. You feel like an imposter. If that culture still persists, it means that after 50 years of political democracy we have failed our people,” the acclaimed historian said.

“We have to look it square [in the eye] because Barbados is approaching the 50th anniversary of our sovereignty and our citizenship next year. And after 50 years of public governance the majority of the people are still excluded from the economy and are afraid to go into the economy.”

Commending Barbadian leaders for the struggles of the past that led to political independence, he said current leaders needed to regain the energy with which the country was mobilized for political justice, and also for economic empowerment.

“I believe that our political parties need renewal. They need ideological and intellectual renewal . . . now. A second shift is in front of us and we need renewal to garner ourselves for this second shift.”

Sir Hilary said that shift had to be about how the Barbados economy would be opened up to the majority black population.

“We cannot go into the next 50 years excluded from our country’s economy the way we are.

“I would advise all political parties to go into retreat, maybe leave the country, go somewhere, and bring some other people. And get a new wind, a new feel.

“Change the whole paradigm and come back home energized. We need a new spurt of leadership.”

4 Responses to Sir Hilary urges politicians to take a break

  1. Menace II Babylon September 24, 2015 at 6:48 am

    I have a lot of respect for you, as I think you are one of the many people in Barbados with a high level of intellect. I thank you for the good work you have been doing for the community and society at large. People are suffering in Barbados so much. Cost of living is killing us, unemployment, no job security, crime etc and whilst they are having Chateauneuf Du Pape vintage year and Filet Mignon cooked medium rare we still having white rice and tuna in some households and you encouraging them to take a break. I humbly disagree.

    They need to put their shoulder to the wheel and produce value for the dollar. Look at other functioning elements of services in the world and look at cost effectiveness as everything is moving towards payment by performance.

    A break from what? We don’t need a renewal. We don’t need a sprout. We need alternative parties that represent the people that have not lost the skill of empathy, or the need to be tactful, frighten to go play a game of dominoes with the boys on the block? You aren’t tactful! Engage the younger voters and seek that vote and not feel the need to need to have police escorts as you place a barrier between you and the people. See what the issues are and do not be put off by the hostility as it has been years of broken promises as some of the youth are vegan so corn beef and rum won’t cut it.

    I don’t agree with them taking a break with their ravenous appetites for exquisite champagne and a la carte dining? This will result in more bills in the hundreds of thousands as they don’t fly economy or stay three/four star. I will agree if they go Gambia, Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon and give them a dose of rural reality.

    Take that money and invest it in the transport board. School children are arriving at school at 10:30am missing first session thus affecting attendance percentages. Put that money in the clinics or hospitals, give people their severance pay and speed up the NIS process. Enhance the sanitation process, one extra truck or repair one or two that knocking around. Go somewhere on who money? I forget there is no accountability.

    My mother was a maid and she suffered and ensured she sent us to school and ensured we had, so I don’t knock any career. Lost everything in Clico as that was her retirement. Well thankfully her sons were raised with good morals and attributes. So she is repaid tenfold. People that living life and when they leave parliament with assets totaling half million or millions. We have relative and believe it or not absolute poverty in our 166.

    I watched a documentary with you on it and I was proud. Extremely. Recently bought Nelsons’ ‘Damnable Doctrines’. I wonder if we have no shame as a people. You harp on about independence when we have a known statue in the middle of our town of a known defender of the imperialistic principle which needs chucking in the careenage.

    Instead of encouraging them to take a break use the UWI and focus on the next step of political scientists. Invest in those. Need a new direction in parties. Need politicians that have no fear as you losing the younger generation. Focus on them. Not around them. Come out the churches, the rum shops, lonely hearts club and seek active ways to get back the X from the kings and queens on the corner seeking change. Keep up the good work and continue to advocate for the brilliant institution.

  2. Olutoye Walrond September 24, 2015 at 11:14 am

    In other words: you are tired and have run out of ideas.

  3. david gibbs September 24, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    Sir Hilary’s solution is simply: “I would advise all political parties to go into retreat, maybe leave the country, go somewhere, and bring some other people. And get a new wind, a new feel. “Change the whole paradigm and come back home energized. We need a new spurt of leadership.” Too vague. Exactly what is he proposing as a policy? Most, of not all, of our current crop of politicians are UWI graduates. And it seems to be that graduates of UWI are lest likely to be entrepreneurially inclined than those who did not. So is UWI part of the problem?

  4. Donna September 27, 2015 at 9:12 am

    They need a spiritual retreat. They have run out of ideas on how to help others but not themselves.


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