Carry on, young Khaleel!

The words of a 13-year-old have never so rattled a government as much of those of Khaleel Kothdiwala, who spoke during the recently held Barbados Labour Party (BLP) rally following their March of Disgust.

As true as those words were, or undoubtedly as a result of the harsh realities of the young man’s account, several members of the Government have gone from the peculiar to the perverse in seeking to respond to the youth. In so doing, they have laid bare their unfortunate perceptions of women and youth participation in this country.

Minister of Social Care, Steve Blackett, volleyed first in this most strange game of one-upmanship when he said that young Khaleel’s speech was tantamount to sexual and physical abuse and he was minded to refer the BLP to the Child Care Board.

He said: “They had a young man, 13 years old I understand he is, parading across the stage with or without the permission of his parents, in full glare of all, exploiting the young man. That is equivalent, as far as I’m concerned, to sexual abuse or physical abuse. It is!”

Khaleel Kothdiwala

It is no surprise that Blackett was unnerved by the speech which told the story of the slide of the country downwards while the Government fiddles and the people suffer, because it was Blackett who said only a few weeks ago, that Barbadians were not suffering .

The inclination of Blackett to report the case to the CCB is itself ironic given the gravely consequential missteps of that agency in recent years and the lack of urgency on the part of the Government in remedying reported shortages in resources.

If the nonsense had stopped there, I would be sympathetic to the party, understanding that they were grasping at straws to de-legitimize the mammoth march and rally, and that, in recent times, has gone from saying nothing to saying anything. But that was not to be.

Blackett was joined in the foolishness by his Cabinet colleague, Minister of Education Ronald Jones. Jones said “Under the laws of Barbados, your parents have responsibility for you. Within the context of Barbados, nevertheless, it would seem strange because of the exploitative nature of politics that you would expose a 13-year-old youngster to that public glare. ”

I disagree with Minster Jones but I certainly cannot begrudge him for his convictions. My only hope is that he is equally concerned about the exploitation of young people who his party encouraged to participate in the creation of a youth policy, in the interest of optics and with the aim of scoring political points; a policy that by and large cannot be implemented. Additionally, I hope his deeply held concern convicts him to warn his colleagues against the exploitative use of young people in the next election campaign.

We lament that young people are not sufficiently engaged in this country, admonishing them to pay attention to news and current affairs and learn about and participate in democracy. Yet, when they do, we call them victims of abuse and coercion, without any available evidence to suggest that that is true.

Mara Thompson took it the furthest in last Friday’s wrap-up of the Estimates debate where she suggested that the young man was allowed to speak on the BLP platform because the childless Leader of the Opposition was not properly counseled by the parents on her side about why a young man of 13 should not speak on a platform “for adults”.

This sentiment is not only misguided but reprehensible. It reinforces the problematic standard which women continue to be held to in a modern society. It reinforces the idea that women are ultimately and fundamentally the bearers of children and, without that most fundamental of qualifications, they can do nothing else, be nothing else.

To wield childlessness against any woman is problematic but to do so against women who have committed themselves to public life is untenable. It is a low that I would not have conceived us stooping to.

The statements of all the MPs should concern electors, for they indicate their belief that participatory democracy should come with limitations for youth and for some women. There is no reason that should not concern us, given where we have come from and where we want to go.

To Khaleel, I hope that throughout your life, you have the resolve to ignore the naysayers and carry on unbothered, because shining and making a difference almost mandates you that you encounter the ignorant and or those attempting to convince the ignorant.


(Andwele Boyce is a young communicator who is passionate about politics and popular culture. He holds a Master’s Degree in International Trade Policy and is currently pursuing a law degree.)



12 Responses to Carry on, young Khaleel!

  1. Dennis Taitt
    Dennis Taitt March 21, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Bare **** putting a 13 year old child on a political platform. Can he vote? Was he paid to do what he did? What is this place coming to? This just goes to show the level of intelligence our politicians can go to to try to acheive political points. This is rather disgraceful. I pray for our children future. I hope he does not get victimised. I hate this one. Does not send a good signal .

  2. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce March 21, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    The future!

  3. Helicopter(8P) March 21, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Children’s parent are directly exposed to the political climate of the land in which they are raised so it is directly brought to them through their parents exposure to the environment which in turn effects the household. It’s a living condition.

  4. David Hall March 21, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    There was absolutely nothing wrong with a young man, obviously well schooled and nurtured,(accompanied by his parents) taking a political platform and speaking articulately on behalf of his parents/ family. He spoke passionately out of his own love for politics and his concerns with the retardation and degradation which his family sees taking place in our society. This somehow has enraged members of the DLP especially the Minister of Education who one thinks would have seen this as a plus for his ministry.

  5. Georgia Gittens
    Georgia Gittens March 21, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    I was wondering, all does that talking negative ❎ about you what they children doing?

  6. Pat BB
    Pat BB March 21, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Carry on smartly future PM of Barbados, don’t mind Dem, they drowning so Dem catching at straws….damn demons Dem is.

  7. Cynthia Blackman
    Cynthia Blackman March 21, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    It makes me wonder ,,, yes things only work when it suits us ,, Do not be daunted , keep you head up

  8. Angela Howard-Graham
    Angela Howard-Graham March 21, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    do it in your school

  9. Tony Waterman March 21, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    The Utterances of these Two BUFFOONS shows how lSmall Brained the people charged with running my Country have become.

    It is quite Obvious that there is no exploiatation going on, from the way the Young Man Carried himself, and if he were being exploited, he would then not be the first, as Davis Thompson was only one year Older than this young Lad when he Came to Prominence as a Young Democrat amd Malala of Pakistan was only 11-12 when she Started Blogging about the Conditions of Girls in her Country, for which she was nearly Murdered.

    I don’t worry so much about Steve Blackett, but the Minister Of Education, one would think that he as Education Minister would be taking the HIGH ROAD on this Performance of one of his Charges. ???

    this is a clear example of why we MUST GET RID of this

  10. Eusteen Greaves March 22, 2017 at 8:25 am

    So are they not the Same Party that USED that old Lady during
    the last election campaign on the Mini Bus? Can we call that elder abuse?

    We all should be proud of that Young Man. Why is it so hard to understand that someone so young can actually have an opinion and want to express it.

  11. BaJan boy March 22, 2017 at 8:43 am

    They don’t seem to realize Muslims taking over the world and Barbados will be no different with a Muslim PM. Steve is kinda dumb so I don’t expect too much from him and spewing from ignorance is his trade many.
    Be seemed to have forgotten the child abuse cases under his watch where the same child care board dropped the ball and the children were either killed or killed themselves. He should manage the child care board first.


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