When anger brings out our worst

We have given them the opportunity to go through apprenticeship, to improve their position in life.

–– Apes Hill developer Sir Charles Williams.

Sir Charles Williams
Sir Charles Williams

To say that tensions at the plush Apes Hill golf resort have now reached boiling point is quite the understatement.

We were at first surprised by the tone of a letter issued by the Barbados Workers’ Union on Tuesday in which it charged that there were racial undertones to what had initially seemed to be just another workers’ protest.

Even more surprising though was the response given to Barbados TODAY by Apes Hill developer Sir Charles Williams, which we published last night.

Sir Charles, who is no stranger to the media and must be credited, along with his brother Bizzy, for his yeoman service to Barbados, in terms of leading the development of this island’s physical infrastructure and guiding it away from a monocrop, sugar plantation-driven economy, has always been known for speaking his mind, and in a way that could make some people feel more than a bit uncomfortable.

But in his interview yesterday with our Senior Reporter Emmanuel Joseph, Sir Charles was spitting fire to the point where he was bordering on, if not stepping over the line of being totally offensive.

“Leh me tell you something. I ready to shut it down and send home all 400 people that working up there. Ready! It is a pain on me. It is a pain,” an emotional Sir Charles said, breaking his silence on the industrial dispute.

“Today is six years Apes Hill open. I should never have done it. I should have left it in a dairy farm employing eight people . . . ; that’s what I should have done.
I would not have this worry this morning,” he lamented.

Sir Charles said the workers had done so well, the company had built an additional car park for those who had gone to work there.

“We have promoted people from labourers to supervisors in our business. You work, you prove yourself, and you get promoted. Leh me tell you something: when they came to work, they barely had clothes . . . ,” emphasized the real estate mogul.

We understand Sir Charles’ anger as a businessman who has invested tonnes of money in a venture and therefore wants to see it succeed. We also understand that as an employer it would irk him to see workers loafing around daily, especially with the local job market as it is right now.

But there our understanding ends.

As a respected and leading member of our business community, Sir Charles caught us off guard by both the tone and tenor of his comments –– which clearly suggest the wounds at Apes Hill are more than skin-deep –– even though the mogul has made a point of saying all are welcome at Apes Hill.

Indeed, we suspect this matter, which is now before the Labour Department, is much bigger than the goodly Dr Esther Byer and her team. Even Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, if he is asked and chooses to answer, may find it exceedingly difficult to resolve what is clearly a pre-Independence mindset.

For as far as we have come as a country, on the cusp of celebrating 50 years of nationhood, it is obvious we still have a long way to go in terms of resolving a number of deep-seated issues to do with our colonial history.

We believe the latest Apes Hill flair-up is an important teaching moment for the entire country.

Quite often, as we move around our generally stable society, it is easy to forget the prejudice that underpins our existence, until we make the mistake of offending a particular class of people. That is when the true weight of the society has been known to come down, and come down forcefully –– never mind all the talk of everyone being equal in God’s sight.

How else could anyone seek to defend putting the concerns of “high net worth” individuals above those of their very employees, who, next to blood relatives, are the closest we all have to family.

It is one of the biggest hypocrisies of Barbadian life, which urgently needs to be corrected. But this will require the will of powerful individuals such as Sir Charles to not only talk reconciliation but to practise it. It matters not today who brought whom out of slavery or for that matter who is responsible for putting the clothes on another’s back, but our sincerity as true craftsmen of our nation’s fate.

We wish to suggest that 50 years after this island made its initial boast of achieving political Independence, there can be no better time than now than to seek to fix this situation before Sir Charles is forced to make good on his threat to shut down Apes Hill for good.

33 Responses to When anger brings out our worst

  1. Hazel Harrison
    Hazel Harrison December 10, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Please white massa talking about his slaves…black people will still be going up there to rub shoulders with the white slave masters…was Sir Cow born into wealth i am asking

  2. Angus B Post
    Angus B Post December 10, 2015 at 9:54 pm


  3. Hamza Bourne
    Hamza Bourne December 10, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    Ok I think heres the problem alot if you parents and barbadians sending your children to school to be good workers instead of good business people if a man open a business and want to shut it down and its his thats his right

    • Sherry Ann Thankful
      Sherry Ann Thankful December 10, 2015 at 10:03 pm

      I agree with your point our system trains for good workers not good business owners

    • Hamza Bourne
      Hamza Bourne December 10, 2015 at 10:04 pm

      Its a fact what your mother does tell you go school so you could get a good job the indians come here and start all kinda businesses bajans say that couldn’t.be started

      • C R Henry December 11, 2015 at 11:02 am

        Yup! this is something i have always had a problem with where our education system is concerned. From the time you reach third form in secondary school we were taught how to write the perfect job letter, how to dress, speak , walk , sit down etc. Never taught us how to think or work towards entrepreneurship. I am speaking about a teaching system that is made up of 99% black educators. Who are we to blame for this mess? Whites and Indians? I never knew what stocks and bonds were until i became an adult in my twenties.

    • Hamza Bourne
      Hamza Bourne December 10, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      Lol haffeejee

    • Joel C. Payne
      Joel C. Payne December 10, 2015 at 11:48 pm

      I feel government is at least partly culpable in this. The Barbadian public has for decades asked government to form a bank which could finance Barbadian investments because the main commercial banks did not see a need or a interest in financing Barbadian small business ventures. BNB could have been purposed for this.

  4. Hamza Bourne
    Hamza Bourne December 10, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    One thing he said thats fact bajan workers are lazy no manners and does go work just to draw a pay check maybe he said some bad stuff but lets really evaluate what he said and see if hes wrong

    • Lawrence Griffith
      Lawrence Griffith December 10, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      If I understand you correctly you said bajans are lazy and only work to collect their pay check. Have you employed any bajans workers?

      • Sha-Nae December 11, 2015 at 9:49 am

        You don’t need to employ any Bajan workers to see it, it’s in there daily mentality and the way they deal with you as behaviour.

    • st. clair worrell December 11, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      I really don’t believe you are in your right senses as my mother would say… Bajans are lazy ?? How come ppl from all over the world flock here to live and set up Business… If l heard of a lazy country any where in the world ; why would l visit there, to see utter chaos and dilapidation?? Furthermore you can’t find cheap land anymore because of the influx of Foreigners wanting a piece of this beautiful Rock… How it get so?? Some of you could really keep silent if you have nothing positive to say…

  5. Wayne P Hoyte
    Wayne P Hoyte December 10, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    the polish up version … smfh

  6. Kirt Jordan
    Kirt Jordan December 10, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    How he know how much clothes the ppl had? Was that on the application form ?

  7. Terry Clarke
    Terry Clarke December 10, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    We need to address these human rights issues in Barbados with some serious protest action. The scale has capsized and now we’re a Nation filled with silently frustrated citizens and residents.

  8. Terry Clarke
    Terry Clarke December 10, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    There is a statement that was made to me several years ago by a very rich white British gentleman concerning Barbadian whites and I’ve lived to see several things he said come to pass.

  9. wise411 December 11, 2015 at 12:11 am

    Bajans have short memories when their were ruling families’ in bdos we came along and saw a lot of mix breed fam and a lot of bajans leaft bdos in 60 and 70 because of lack work and and black fam suffering from their control

  10. Jane Garner December 11, 2015 at 3:48 am

    He needs to respect the fact that without his employees he wouldn’t be where he is today. He is only one man. Yes a rich man. But without the help of others he is still one man and cannot do it on his own. He also didn’t employ 400 people out of the goodness of his heart. He needed them. Really don’t think as a businessman he will just shut down a successful profitable business. He’s not stupid. Even if he doesn’t think about what he says or if it offends people.

  11. L Austin B Husbands December 11, 2015 at 4:46 am

    Very diplomatically written. COW was insulting ,condescending and ungrateful to Bajans and especially a group of workers who have helped his corporations and HIM.
    Now we know how he feels. He must be made to apologize and our nation’s honour (the knighthood) returned.

  12. steve lashley December 11, 2015 at 6:41 am

    Let me give you an example from another part of nature. All creatures eg bacteria have DNA in one environment and in another the DNA or fundamental behavior totally different. You want to live in a world where people say what they think not political double speak. He is from a time when his ancesters had slavery as a reality. You can not undo events in God’s world, you are not that powerful or important so respect all of God’s creatures.

  13. denise j December 11, 2015 at 7:57 am

    This is a sad state of affairs which cannot be ignored. This reflects the true state of race in Barbados. We’ve heard about the two Barbadoses? Well this is the real Barbados. A county still affected by slavery and race. It cannot be hidden. Is this how Blacks are perceived by white Barbados? As slaves and ex slaves? People that had no clothes? People that the good whites had to have mercy on in delivering “us” from Slavery by putting us into apprenticeship? This is a condescending piece of drivel which should be offensive to ALL black Barbadians. Yes there are workers of all races who shirk their duties but this is no excuse to malign black Barbadians to the tune of “how dare you offend white massa”. Barbadians need to wake up from their slumber. White businesses in Bim can’t thrive without Black support.

  14. Anonymous December 11, 2015 at 9:31 am

    It’s the same at all those companies. With **name removed** General Manager at the **company name removed** a woman who admits she went to school and learned nothing, manages a company despite having no learning, people skills, respect, She tells her employees they should be grateful she hired them. That and much more is what the employees have to deal with daily no matter how they go above and beyond the call of duty.

  15. Adrian Hinds December 11, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Serves Barbados right; Successive governments, and many Barbadians have cuddle this man as something akin to a god for many years when clearly by comments he is just a low-life with lots of money. I am not surprise that a 83 year old Caucasian looking Caucasian believing redneck, red-leg, backrah johnny descendant would say such things. He was born at a time when blacks were seen as inferior – psychologist says a child identity is formed by the age of 12; applied to COW; his views of blacks as witness in his formative years would have been deepen by his wealth, power, and access over the years. so that COW’s commentary being defined as pre-independence rhetoric is much more than that. Don’t even dismiss it as a mistake in a moment of anger, because it is via that emotion as well as when one is in an assumed private environment, or when inebriated that their true thoughts are made known. It also occurs when they have developed an entitlement mindset due to their societal status – they feel if not belief they can say whatever without repercussions. This is who he is and has always been. He is in every way of the mindset of Donald Sterling former owner of the LA Clippers basket ball team. Both are ugly not only in looks but in their deepest thoughts about others formed by era in which they were born and fortified by their accumulated wealth. The only difference being COW will not be held to account for his racist views as Donald Sterling was – Because he is in Barbados were blacks only seek to hold other blacks to account for their actions and words – This is Barbados pre and post independence little change little progress.

  16. smh December 11, 2015 at 10:01 am

    A serious thing Barbados realize the youngest white at the age of 18 leave school and is placed in a white shirt and the most of them have little qualifications behind their name but yet a black go to work they well qualified and is placed in a gray shirts and pants…..study it.

  17. Draesop December 11, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    This is one of the reasons that spokespersons and PR folks exist. This guy’s propensity for foot in mouth is obvious. A racist white bajan is unusual only to wannabee black bajans. The Union needs to do what Unions do. Progress is sometimes painful. Hopefully Sir Charles’ successors will operate with the understandings that Massa day done. Massa can make a profit without insulting demeaning behaviour typical of slavery times.

  18. rick hart December 11, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Having reviewed many of the comments made in the above I find myself very surprised that the media and the public at large are surprised another word I’m surprised that you’re surprise.

    Mr Williams is there a product after thinking of his generation and ethnic background. The years we have witnessed his construction company being run and manage by white people only this was my experience when I lived in Barbados in the 80s.

    In my opinion it is my view Focus in on outdated miss guided rhetoric from a man who I believe that not have another 82l years (this birth is misguided. Yes stop get note and be aware how we are reviewed by these individuals that is helpful.

    The question I would love to ask Barbadians having being the recipient of rapid and social developer sent independence have we done enough to assist ourselves from the sugar field to the board room

    White people in Barbados have the advantage their ancestors work explores and discover discovered Barbados. We spent 400 years as slaves why white people were engaged in running plantations indeed mr Williams own father was one such person.

    Barbados has a first class education system was Barbadians are educated to a high degree and level. Most Barbadians are industrious hard-working and enterprising. These are the cornerstones of success.

    We need to start investing in our all product for example if Mr Williams was to shut his operation in apes Hill I would wholeheartedly encourage him to do so. That icing on The cake would be for the 400 employees Plus other Barbadians with the financial clout to take it over and running. It is only on until we start investing in ourselves Will we see you effects of empowerment.

    If we continue to limit ourselves to limit ourselves to look no further than to be employed by Williams industries then we are also limiting our expectations by others

    I agree with Mr Hines that nor political party will put their head above the parapet venture in comment condemnation to Mr Williams unlike Mr Stalin mr Williams is a big fish in a little puddle politics is about political survival. I believe these politicians are equally and highly educated individuals and would have been very much aware the likes of Mr Williams. But would prefer to tolerate and accommodate as a consequence of his financial clout and influence in the employment market and value to the economy.

    I would encourage Barbadians to start investing in companies or worry investing in Barbados businesses. Four example bank Holdings and others.

  19. Kim December 11, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    I can see that many are missing the point here. But who am I?

  20. Pekafootball December 11, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    It is amazing that we could believe that Barbados or any other Caribbean nation is a truly post colonial independent nation. Who do you work for and where do you shop? Now where do you live and who do you play with?

    It is much easier to liberate bodies than to liberate minds. However liberating a heart is a near impossible task, save for a cosmic act of deliverance.

    As it is said: it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, it is what comes out of him. For out of the abundance of his heart a man speaks.

  21. O.daCosta Jones December 12, 2015 at 10:22 am

    This does not come as a surprise to me. **edited**. We tend to kid ourselves in this island that we have outlived racism and discrimination but let’s face it,we are still very dependent on the USDand the pound sterling.What if Sir Charles carried out his threat?Do you really think a lot of white people both local and from overseas will patronise Apes Hill?.Let’s get real! We have a serious problem in this country with accountability and performance and reliability.We all know the pain one endures in getting things done with efficiency,so let’s get off our high horses and be realistic.Sir Charles and his kith and kin may well be unable to change their ideas about black people so instead of berating them we need to show more care and consideration for our own.We are all too good at talking the talk but not walking the walk.We have to closely aligned ourselves with what comes out of Europe and the US.How about going back to some not all of our grassroots principles and uplift ourselves.We don’t really go out of our way to help one another, do we?

  22. Andre December 12, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    To make a long story short..this articles headline is misleading and misquotes Mr.Williams.. at no point did Mr. Williams say “slavery”.

    To all those who leapt without checking the original article voice recording this article is based on (also posted on Barbados Today) this article misquotes Mr Willams..at no point in his statement did he say slavery but instead said labourers.

  23. ian brathwaite December 30, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    I Think that Diversity Training is something that should be implemented in the schools,university and all parts of the public and private sectors. Get your reverences out in the open. Let you coworkers or managers know how you feel in an open forum,this will level the tone and persons would start to appreciate each other and think before they react. This is not a Barbadian problem,this stretches far and wide but, it will never be resolved if it is not brought to light and resolved.

  24. ian brathwaite December 30, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Forgive my typo “Get your grievances out in the open”


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