LEGENDARY CRICKETER Sir Garfield Sobers should not be referred to as National?Hero.
This is the view of retired jurist Sir Frederick Smith who, in a SUNDAY SUN exclusive following Thursday’s commemoration of National Heroes Day, argued that the island’s highest honour should be reserved for people after they have died.“
Suppose a maid writes and says that [Sir Garry] didn’t pay her her wages and puts [him] in court or somebody out of spite did, it wouldn’t look good for a National Hero,” Sir Frederick explained.“I mean he [Sir Garry] might win the case but the point is that the idea that somebody, while he is alive, can accuse him, wrongly or rightly of some offence would bring the whole question into disrepute,” he added.
In the same vein, he questioned the late Sir Frank Walcott’s inclusion in the official list of ten National Heroes on the basis that he was named while he was alive.
Sir Frederick also said he was in a quandary over the naming of Sir Frank Worrell, whose image is replicated on the $5 note, since, in his estimation, no clear distinction had been made between “distinguished Barbadians” and “heroes who had advanced Barbados from being a village to an independent country”.
Despite the inclusion of Sarah Ann Gill, Sir Frederick also argued that nothing had been done to honour the contribution of white Barbadians.
“We haven’t got a white hero at all. You mean for all these 300-odd years we have been in existence, some white man didn’t do something prior to the riots in 1937?” he asked.
The other heroes are Sir Grantley Adams, Errol Walton Barrow, Bussa, Charles Duncan Oneal, Clement Payne, Samuel Jackman Prescod and Sir Hugh Springer.
Sir Frederick said while National Heroes Day was a nice idea, it was wrongly conceived for political purposes. He said going forward the people should have a greater say in the process.
The former Court of Appeal judge also said it was “complete foolishness” to have two public holidays for heroes as he called for the national celebration of the birthdays of Errol Barrow and Sir Grantley Adams to be meshed into one.
“Don’t put it [National Heroes Day] on either birthday if it is going to offend any party or anybody,” he suggested. “My view is that one holiday for everybody would be good. Even though that Barrow was the leader of the DLP [Democratic Labour Party], I feel that one holiday is enough.
“Our productivity is dropping and we need less holidays than we have, but we have two holidays for two sets of heroes – Barrow and Heroes Day. It’s complete foolishness,” Sir Frederick said.