IN THE CANDID CORNER: 2010 – the year that was
“Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognise it as such.” – Henry Miller
The year 2010, whose end is now imminent, can be variously described according to issues of local, regional and international relevance.
It might best be labelled as the year of greed of enormous proportions. One of Ponzi schemes and a year characterised by glaring economic and social uncertainty.
One of the most devastating events to have taken place during the year 2010 was the earthquake in Haiti with the year just 12 days old.
It has been described as the worst to have hit the poorest nation in the world in 200 years. The imagery of limbs protruding from disintegrating concrete, hurt and bloody survivors squatting in the streets and a tableau of life and society in ruins remains strikingly traumatic as the year ends.
The tragedy of it all is the fact that in spite of massive mobilisation on a global scale, after one year not much has changed for the population of the first free black republic in the world. While people continue to speculate as to whether the earthquake was natural or human induced, it will be sometime before the lives of the Haitian people return to any semblance of normalcy.
As it was in the beginning of the year, so it is in the end. From the rubble of the 7.0 tremor of January to the pain and agony of the cholera outbreak as the year climaxes. Again the charge of a foreign origin looms large. Research is tending to suggest that the strain of cholera that has shown up, is one alien to Haiti.
The illness, death and burial of our late Prime Minister probably cut the cake as we look back on the year 2010. The official announcement in May that our political leader had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer was shocking, to say the least. For six months the citizenry pained in silence, not knowing, but wanting to know. In our culture we own, we possess our leaders and when they are ill we feel each pang and hear each groan of their agony. Though the ultimate was knowingly inevitable, when it eventually hit us like a bolt on October 23, we felt like a people marooned and unprepared.
So painful was his illness that even political swords and cudgels that would normally be drawn and swung, were respectfully withheld. Undoubtedly, his life, his contribution, his illness and his subsequent demise will remain entombed in our hearts like his mortal remains in the bowels of the constituency where he rendered service without discrimination. The story of his coming to the assistance of an ex-convict, whom he employed, epitomises the confidence he demonstrated in humanity.
Another national event that cut at the core of our sensibility as Barbadians was the deadly fire-bombing at Campus Trendz on Tudor Street in The City. This unprecedented criminal act, which torched the lives of six young, beautiful and productive women, was a clear demonstration of inhumanity. In spite of their screams being audible via their cellular phones, none of us heard them loud enough to be able to save them from the fiery demise. Meanwhile, the now deadly trend of one-door business establishments continues until another tragedy strikes. It would seem that not even the death of six women has been enough to nudge the policymakers into action on enforcing our building code. How many more must die?
On the political level, the year in review would have been more volatile had it not been for the illness and death of the former Prime Minister David Thompson. While there were charges that the country was on autopilot, the normal cut and thrust of partisan politics was muffled like the drums of the funeral march to Kensington Oval.
The year 2010 also saw the near hurricane force gales of Tropical Storm Tomas lashing our national landscape and exposing the residential privacy of thousands of Barbadians, with damage being estimated at $37 million.
All the abovementioned events took place on the carpet of international recession which surpassed the great depression of the 1930s, both in impact and intensity. As we approach 2011, the pervasive uncertainty is showing no signs of abating. As we celebrate the Christmas season, our hope will reside in our capacity for goodwill and resilience. It was a year of immense tension as we waded through earthquake, cholera, storm and death and remain challenged by a lingering recession. In reflection, the year 2010 will go down in the annals of history as the year that was.
• Matthew D. Farley is a secondary school principal, chairman of the National Forum On Education, and a social commentator. Email [email protected]