LAST WEEK’S visit by the Earl and Countess of Wessex has reignited calls for Barbados to replace some of the remnants of colonialism, including names of streets and major institutions across the island.
Government Member of Parliament Hamilton Lashley told the SUNDAY SUN that he is on a mission to rid his St Michael South-East constituency of such names and he has the support of Pan-Africanist David Comissiong, who believes the renaming should extend to several other public places.
Lashley, who boycotted last Thursday’s joint sitting of Parliament and other events for the visit of the royal couple, said it was a shame that an independent country like Barbados still had so much named after members of the royal family.
“There is a Royal Barbados Police Force and Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds and people can stay in prison until Her Majesty’s pleasure. But in The Pine, I will be fighting hard until the next general election comes to have the names of roads changed. We have a Princess Royal Avenue, a Princess Mary Lane and so on, just because they paid a visit,” he said.
There are similar street names in Bank Hall, St Michael, and in The City.
Lashley suggested that people like the late top athlete Reuben Bayley, Rawle Clarke, Rodney Grant and Dr Erskine Simmons had done enough for Barbados to have those streets in The Pine named after them.
Comissiong, in a separate interview, supported Lashley in his call.
“There are so many genuine heroes of our people, both native Barbadians as well as outstanding non-Barbadian freedom-fighters, whom we really should be honouringby naming streets and other public places after them,” said the leader of the People’s Empowerment Party and the Clement Payne Movement.
“For example, we should have something named in honour of Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi – these are the non-Barbadians that spring to mind – much less outstanding Barbadians like Wynter Crawford and Eunice Belgrave, who was very instrumental in coming to the assistance of Clement Payne in 1937. If we think about it, we will identify many native heroes and heroines [who] should be honoured by having public places named after them.”
Comissiong went further to urge the country to critically re-examine the various colonial systems, models and practices inherited at the time of going into Independence.
“We may very well find that they are in need of some modification or change if we are to go forward more effectively as a society. We need to re-examine our society within the context of what are our real needs and concerns now, and do we need to make modifications and changes to cater to those real needs and concerns,” he said.
He pointed, for example, to the Queen still serving as Barbados’ head of state.
Comissiong suggested that the post was way too important to leave in the hands of someone who was “so distant, so alien” from the people of Barbados.
“My position is that the office of head of state is an extremely important office
for any functioning nation . . . A head of state should be somebody who symbolizes the best in the Barbadian people, somebody whom we look up to and regard as symbolic of the best and brightest that we are, and somebody who is able to serve as a unifying and motivating force for us, the people of Barbados,” he said.
“The Queen of England cannot carry out that function for us and the question we have to ask ourselves is, aren’t we doing ourselves a disservice by continuing to maintain a system in which the Queen of England is our head of state?”
That position has been endorsed by Lashley, who suggested a referendum on whether Barbados should become a republic.