EDITORIAL – A nation that stands on its own two feet
ON INDEPENDENCE DAY, it is usual to think back to that first November 30, one much better known in custom and imagination than it is in fact, as Barbados attempted to symbolically cut its colonial umbilical cord from Britain.
The day is normally associated with National Hero the Right Excellent Errol Barrow, who was noted and admired for his unyielding belief in the ability and can-do-it spirit of the average Barbadian.
He believed in equal opportunity for all and almost single-handedly became a symbol of freedom – the first Barbados Prime Minister to shake off the chains of colonial rule – but ended up creating a society largely dependant upon the state.
Mr Barrow used the first five years from 1966 and his charisma, energy and urgency to inspire Barbadians to the promise of greatness, evidenced by a rapid industrialization based on the import substitution model and significant expansion of social programmes.
Forty-five years after Independence, Barbados has another opportunity, an even more pressing one than we had then, to transform the lives of Barbadians. This opportunity is more an economic one than political. What is required, however, is even more inspired leadership to take Barbados to its manifest destiny.
To many of us, looking back from the relative opulence of the present day, life in 1966 looks more than threadbare. It looks all the barer the more accurately you understand it in terms of the dominance of the then plantation economy.
But it was life as it is history. And while there is life, there is always room to give God thanks, for a gratitude is never worn out. It is not the feast we give thanks for, but our presence at it – just as we do today.
The early settlers referred to Barbados as Little England. We accept that now as nearly a truism. But it took a certain cast of mind to see a hopeful place on that wet November Independence Day, among the lingering doubts of a nation unprepared but trusting in Mr Barrow’s confident leadership.
But we concede that personal attributes and noble intentions can never, on their own, be adequate to develop our post-Independence economic situation.
It requires more than age, party loyalty, charisma, eloquence or good looks to win elections to lead a country.
The next great leader must be able to stand and fight legitimate causes for country and transform the ideas and hopes of every man and woman of this land into our new reality, a reality where we stand erect as a nation together, on our own two feet.
Despite challenges, the mission is simple: to create a future Barbados that will be a model of progress for the rest of the Caribbean and all other small countries of the world.
Let us all resolve today to do something, to plant a seed – for ourselves and the good of our country – to safeguard its independence and its future.