Needed: real revolutionaries

“So soon we’ll find out who is the real revolutionaries;

And I don’t want my people to be tricked by mercenaries.”

Bob Marley

In this the 51st season of Independence of the island of Barbados, everyone should pause and reflect not only on the deliberations of that rainy night over five decades ago but also on our national development. We should have an open discussion on what has been achieved, where we are now and the plans that we have for fulfillment in the not too distant future.

While we cannot go back and change the past, the backdrop of the present situation is truly horrendous. The changing of the old guard in a faraway place like Zimbabwe, whether we acknowledge it or not, has an impact on how we view national development.

When Robert Mugabe defeated the minority white government with his freedom fighters to create an independent, black-led state in 1980, he was the pride and hero of every black person.  His actions were immortalized by the great singer Bob Marley.  Millions of hopes and dreams were centered on him that he would be the one to transform not just Zimbabwe but the African continent.

Zimbabwe underwent a transformation process.  The land was recovered from the English colonists and the first 10 years went reasonably well, even though the international community retaliated with sanctions.  Then corruption started to raise its ugly head.

Robert Mugabe’s rule of 37 years was a strange one characterized by the destruction of his opposition, economic mismanagement of the country’s financial resources, violence, electoral fraud, corruption and crimes against humanity . With the economic wealth of the country, his form of government recreated the same demon that it destroyed. He replaced white British colonialism with a black Zimbabwean colonialism.

The masses still lived at two extremes; the very rich and the very poor; the slum dwellers without hope of leaving the slums of Bulawayo and the super-rich elite whose children flash their wealth on social media; the gold, diamonds, flashy cars, designer clothes, even yachts.

Robert Mugabe’s Independence did not have a positive effect on the entire population as it was envisioned in the beginning. In essence, he won the war for Independence but after 37 years of being in power, it was evident that he had lost the battle to create a new life for all of his people. One would have thought that the legacy of his accomplishments after 37 years of independence would have outweighed the legacy of his war to gain independence for Zimbabwe, but it never will.

His successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is on record stating that he will repay the white Zimbabweans for the land that Mugabe took from them. One hopes that he is well aware that the land did not belong to them in the first place and that it was repayments to France for its independence that has made Haiti the most poverty-stricken nation in the Western Hemisphere. One finally hopes that it is not just talk that is coming from Harare but an opportunity to correct the wrongs of the past and create a more meaningful future for the people of that country where 90 per cent is now unemployed.

In our own backyard, there are lessons to be learned from what has occurred in Zimbabwe. Even though we have did not become independent through a revolution, there was transfer of power to a black government. No whites were driven from the country or their lands changed hands but technically the story is the same. The means of production remained concentrated in the hands of a few white persons. Here too the population lives at extremes; blacks living hand to mouth without generational wealth while the wealth of the few whites is a spectre from Parliament where they exert control over the black political class to their manifestations of ownership in the streets.

The majority of Barbadians does not have much to show for 51 years of Independence. At present, members of the once thriving middle class have found themselves in an economic bind, losing the most important asset that they have achieved in their life time — their home. A complex set of home grown circumstances has negated the growth of the last 51 years and the present administration, after nine years of operating on a trial and error basis, has refused to admit it is incapable of producing solutions to the problems that the island faces.

In looking towards the future, what is needed are real revolutionaries who will effect a wave of transformation that stretches across Africa and the Caribbean.  They must be persons with the relentless vigour of Robert Mugabe to rage a war for change. The kind of change that affects the old political and legislative structures, finally dismantles the old colonial mind-set by which some believe that they have the right to reap the economic benefits off the land and others and that change will never come. More so, they must also dismantle the political appendage that enables this.

We need real revolutionaries that will create not only a personal post- independence legacy but also are visionary to transform the lives of not only this generation, but also the next and the one after that. We need revolutionaries who maintain a clear focus on what is be attained for the social and economic well-being of ordinary citizens. We need visionaries whose acts from now on create one people; one Barbados, not two. Who can make poverty and homelessness extinct.  Leaders who care more about the common good than enriching their pockets. Leaders who create the environment within which the fundamentals of generational wealth is established.

They must ensure that elections are free and fair and serve to legitimize  government as well as ensure that the systems of accountability work; that the major institutions like the courts and police force within the country are not manipulated by successive administrations or serve and/or prosecute one sector of the population and not another.

We need revolutionary leaders who believe in the possibility of transforming their countries into world class societies, not with 90 per cent unemployment but 100 per cent employment where the media can finally assert their rightful position as the fourth estate, where tertiary level education can be provided free of cost for those who wish to attend colleges and universities, where the best health care is provided not only to those who can afford it but also to those who cannot afford to pay. It is not impossible. These are things that can be achieved in the next 10 years.

We are at a critical junction in our development and cannot afford to spend the next 37 years making mistakes that become so deeply entrenched that they may never be corrected. As Bob Marley said, “we have to fight, fight for our rights”. I firmly believe that it was the thought of overcoming issues like these that led the writer of the National Anthem of Barbados to write “and greater will our nation grow in strength and in unity.”

Source: (Heather Cole is a U.S.-based Barbadian and frequent commentator on public issues)

5 Responses to Needed: real revolutionaries

  1. Greengiant December 9, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    There’s reality and emotional thought. Why if we are going to level the playing field, create opportunities of wealth for all, 100% employment and many of the social developmental opportunities for our people, are we going to have tertiary education and health services free for all?

    Ms. Heather Cole, perhaps that’s why there is a Haiti, and a Zimbabwe. The state cannot continue to carry the people, the people have to carry the state. The real problem is that
    E.W. Barrow, G.H. Adams and others since their time have never told the people the truth. The people were made to believe the social benefits could continue forever, they should have been told that the state was educating the poor, so they could one day educate their future generations, so one day they could purchase property, so one day they could buy shares, so one day they could become business owners, and employers of themselves.

    So the leaders of both DLP and BLP failed to tell those who held the power of an ‘X’ what they should have known. Instead choosing to tell them what would guaranteed their vote. Now the DLP has been forced to make hard choices, the BLP want the people to believe they can turn back the hand of time.

    They have both failed, revolutionaries will not do for Barbados what they failed to do for Haiti, and Zimbabwe. Hones, straight talking, 21st century thinking leaders will make the difference, those with promises are a total waste of time. Those with obvious plans, well thought out, and presented for perusal will lead this country into a bright tomorrow. Thos like Arthur, Stuarts, Mottley, and their lot, who can only vaguely criticise the theory of bright non political, but intelligent brains see only Dept servicing through borrowing as the only alternative. Dept reduction through restructuring, and implementation of proper management systems, and accountable practises before borrowing is the way to go.

    To do otherwise is spinning your economic wheels in the mud, what will appear to be a rescue, will be nothing more than short term relief with unsustainable consequences. We have seen that before, ‘public sector reduction, dept deduction under Erskine Sandiford, public sector increased, and dept increased under Owen Arthur. Under the Thompson and Stuart administrations it was allowed to spiral out of control. Rather than reducing the public sector gradually over the last nine years, thereby reducing the dept, they tried to tax us out of the mess.

    Instead of taxed out we are only maxed out. The BLP and DLP needs to be avoided if we are to become sustainable as they can only spell the word. The happenings between 1995 and 2017 has shown us that they couldn’t sustain what Sandiford had created. No other evidence is required.

    Reply
  2. Jennifer December 9, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Freedom is just other word for “nothing left to lose”.
    Until we understand that we are dealing with two spiritual entities similar to that of LEVIATHAN and BEHEMOTH and fully understand that only one can exist on the earth, and that there is simply not a thing called integration, then and only then will we be able to fully understand or appreciate such a thing as “INDEPENDENCE”. Bob Marley stated this truth in his redemption song – This is about fulfilling the book.
    Now get understanding – WHAT BOOK??
    if you can’t see the above, keep talking and C where that gets U.

    Reply
  3. Bajan Patriot December 9, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    I totally agree with the guest clounm. I also agree with Jennifer and green giant. The institute’s in barbados has been corrupted by being on the take. Every P.M that have attempted to make the changes mention have been snuff out. Only the corup on on the take survived. The power’s in barbados has a enforcement arm to keep things just the way there are. Any elected leaders not willing to be bribe end up dead. What any new leadership need to do is have people in place to protect them from these forced and also able to strike back. A General purge is needed. A lot of good people was hurt just because they refuse to look the other way. This election will be a fight for the sole of a people. Barbadians have a great responsibility this time to purge the system. Its time for real change. To B.T, deleteing my post would not silence me.

    Reply
  4. Othneal December 9, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    Thanks to the author. The article contains some interesting observations. First, the analysis of the Mugabe regime is accurate and balanced. Mugabe’s reign was a squandered opportunity, but his degeneration into despotic egotism is seen in a number of initially popular leaders. For some of them, the love of their people is never enough. The cliche..’Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’ comes to mind, but is not inevitable.
    Regarding the suggestion that, in order to make real progress, we must first draw a line under our colonial past, this is an absolute necessity. Without doing so independence will remain an illusion, the hope of creating an egalitarian society, a pipe dream. Barbados would be destined to remain a reflection of the past, with all its injustice and inequality.
    With respect to free education, health care and social security. Sound socioeconomic principles must be adhered to. Nothing is ever really free. Hard working citizens foot the bill.
    The aspirations of free education and health care are noble. Social security support must be applied with wisdom, other wise it can be counterproductive. Such considerations are ultimately investment in the Country’s future.

    Reply
  5. Bajan Patriot December 9, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    I totally agree with the guest clounm. I also agree with Jennifer and green giant. The institute’s in barbados has been corrupted by being on the take. Every P.M that have attempted to make the changes mention have been snuff out. Only the corup on on the take survived. The power’s in barbados has a enforcement arm to keep things just the way there are. Any elected leaders not willing to be bribe end up dead. What any new leadership need to do is have people in place to protect them from these forced and also able to strike back. A General purge is needed. A lot of good people was hurt just because they refuse to look the other way. This election will be a fight for the sole of a people. Barbadians have a great responsibility this time to purge the system. Its time for real change. To B.T, deleteing my post would not silence me. I have other median available to me.

    Reply

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