EDITORIAL – Season of reflection too
This weekend as we celebrate Crop Over and Emancipation, we should reflect on the long road we have travelled to reach the point where we can boast a political and social freedom that does not exclude any Barbadian citizen from aspiring to the highest offices.
Review of the recent past centuries would reveal to the unaware how important these observances and celebrations are to all those who, wherever their ancestors may have come from, live in this small rock placed fortuitously at a distant eastern point in the Atlantic Ocean.
The historical enslavement and ill-treatment in Barbados of the ancestors of those of African ethnicity by the ancestors of those of European origin are a fact belonging to an era in which enlightened approaches to humanity were not as widespread as they are now.
And so it is critical that as descendants, whose ethnicities are now intermixed through the confluence of times and the intricacies of human nature, we use the lessons of history to help us bind up the wounds and build together on what is now our natural heritage in Barbados – the best little acre on God’s earth.
It is important, for example, that as Barbadians, we accept that our culture is a melange of Eurocentric and Afrocentric customs and behaviours. That is why we play and would excel at cricket, courtesy of our European influences, and eat cou-cou and compose calypsos through customs brought by our ancestors from their African homeland.
We are the products of a melded history and it matters not how we got here, except for the purpose of knowing our history – not as part of a campaign of rancour, but because in understanding where we came from we might have a better awareness of where we are going.
Our celebrations should therefore be as a conjoined Barbadian people enjoying our Season Of Emancipation and Crop Over. And conscious we must be that there could be no lasting peace and no economic progress and no meaningful celebration if one group had remained forced servant or property of another.
We therefore urge all sections of our citizenry, of whatever ethnicity, to lay claim to this festival season as their joint celebration, in a way which suggests that maturity of the enlightened mind allows each one of us to embrace each other as brothers and sisters of a culture rooted in that African and European – albeit through a torturous past.
Our nation sees itself as one of the most advanced of the developing countries; and the World Bank and other international aid agencies view us as such.
That development has been the result of hard work by a free people, particularly since 1966. But the fights and battles of 1833 and 1937 and 1951, and the achievements ever since Independence have been the result of all Barbadians of varying ethnicities united in a common cause for making our country better.
More so now than at any other time, we urge mutual tolerance by each one for the other, so that as we rejoice in our national celebrations, we do so conscious of our duty to country.