THE BLP COLUMN – A nation adrift
Another Crop-Over season draws to a close this weekend. Congratulations to all those who contributed to the cultural mosaic that forms part of our national festival, whether in song, verse, culinary skills, visual and literary arts or costume design.If the festival seems a bit low-keyed this year, it is not because the artists did not make their usual contribution. It is a reflection of a less than stellar marketing campaign by the National Cultural Foundation. They will no doubt repeat the Government’s mantra of being in an economic recession and having to cut costs. But why would they outsource the production of their advertising campaign to a company in Trinidad. At a time when saving foreign exchange is critical and local businesses are struggling to keep their doors open and people employed, why is the NCF spending our money in Trinidad? Are Barbadian video companies who have produced the advertisements for the NCF over the years now not good enough to receive their support? If Government entities are going to behave like this how will they be in a position to ask businesses and ordinary Barbadians to buy local and keep the economy ticking over during a period of slow economic activity? They ought to be leading by example.This brings us to the farcical situation that obtained at Bushy Park last weekend where a clear lack of leadership allowed an unfortunate situation to mushroom out of control. When you take an ill-constructed competition that pits two different classes of kaiso to determine an overall winner, then you are asking for trouble. Add a vociferous crowd and no information about what was happening backstage, then it is no surprise that things got out of hand.Where were the NCF officials, the board members and the minister, who were all present, in trying to quell or resolve a difficult situation? How sad that this Government’s lack of leadership has become so endemic that a national calypso competition was allowed to degenerate into a free-for-all. Imagine that it was left to one of the competing calypsonians to try and restore some order to the proceedings. Kudos to Anderson Armstrong for filling the vacuum and appealing to the crowd for calm. Where was the NCF when it mattered most?There is a lot going on at the NCF behind closed doors that will soon come to light. Suffice to say that employees there have already called in their union to represent them on matters relating to supersession and terms of employment. A volcano is rumbling to life at West Terrace and sooner or later their inflationary salary practices will erupt for all to see. We are on the last lap now for another Crop-Over season. Results of a recent poll quoted by our neighbouring columnist Frank Da Silva suggest that the Government fears it too is approaching its sell by date. They have perfected the Mohammad Ali shuffle and are bobbing and weaving from the hard questions. Even with the announcement, at time of writing, that Senator Darcy Boyce is to stand in for Freundel Stuart to face the Press, we do not expect this to change.It certainly says a lot about Stuart’s own lack of confidence as Minister of Finance that he did not speak to the nation at a time when even if he is incapable of little else he should at least be offering reassurance to the country. Again no leadership, and questionable ability.We shall examine this issue further next week, once the country has heard Senator Boyce.We wish the country and all of our visitors a safe and enjoyable Emancipation Day and Kadooment weekend.
•Beresford Leon Padmore is a pseudonym for the Barbados Labour Party.