PEP COLUMN: Celebrating the Barbados revolution
Fri, April 27, 2012 - 12:00 AM
If there is one organization in Barbados that has taken to heart the National Heroes Day public holiday and consistently celebrated it on an annual basis, it is the Clement Payne Movement.
And, perhaps, this is as it should be, for it was the Clement Payne Movement that, as early as 1989, took the lead in making a public call and launching an advocacy campaign for Clement Osbourne Payne to be declared a National Hero of Barbados.
We Barbadians should take note therefore when the movement reminds us that this year’s National Heroes Day is imbued with a special significance, in that it is also the 75th anniversary of the People’s Rebellion of 1937.
Barbadians should therefore make it a point of duty to wend their way to Golden Square at 6 p.m. tomorrow in order to take in the Clement Payne Movement’s National Heroes Day public rally and to hear the messages that will be delivered in word and song by Reverend Gordon Matthews, Olu Walrond, Mighty Gabby, Bobby Clarke, Richard Stoute, Trevor Prescod, Oswald Joe, Charles Odell, David Comissiong and others.
As far as we are concerned, there could not be a more appropriate time for Barbadians to look back at the people’s movements of the 1930s and to draw lessons and inspiration from them!
To begin with, there is a certain similarity about the period of the 1930s and the era that we are living through today. Put simply, they are both periods of fundamental crisis in the international capitalist economy.
The Barbadians of the 1930s – like the Barbadians of today – found themselves buffeted by economic stagnation, rising unemployment, escalating food prices, and increasing poverty and economic insecurity.
It is therefore instructive to examine the response of Payne and his lieutenants in Barbados, Israel Lovell, Ulric Grant, Menzies Chase, Darnley Alleyne and Mortimer Skeete, as well as the responses of other working-class leaders throughout the Caribbean – Antonio Seberanis in Belize, J.A. Nathan in St Kitts, Elma Francois and T. Uriah Buzz Butler in Trinidad, and H.C. Buchanan in Jamaica.
Virtually all of these working-class leaders stressed the need for the masses of people to be protected through a variety of state-sponsored social welfare mechanisms in the spheres of unemployment relief, health care, pensions, nutrition, workmen’s compensation, housing and education.
They also outlined a comprehensive and inspiring vision for the Caribbean that included the establishment of autonomous institutions of the working class such as trade unions and political parties.
These ideas blazed like a fire in the minds and souls of hundreds of thousands of ordinary Caribbean people, energizing them and bringing them out into the streets.
In this more democratic era, we do not need the street violence that accompanied the popular protests of the 1930s, but we are sorely in need of the energy, motivation, engagement, self-driven activity and creativity of back then!
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