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SEEN UP NORTH: Bajans party in Brooklyn

Tony Best

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The 19th century historic Brooklyn Borough Hall building with its rotunda and plaza has seen many a foreign national celebration in recent years.
Immigrant communities from at least 50 countries around the world form a part of the county which, if it were a city, would be the fourth largest in the United States.
With a population of four million, people find downtown Brooklyn to be a fitting place to let the world know where they are from and invite others to share in what are generally seen as national blessings.
Actually, Brooklyn is home away from home for at least one million of its residents. Its borough president Marty Markowitz has opened the borough’s facilities to those who want to celebrate their culture, observe national holidays and otherwise pay tribute to heroes, heroines and others who have made “back home” the place they treasure.
It was Barbados’ turn on Friday afternoon, and scores of Bajans, intent on celebrating the 46th anniversary of their Independence travelled from various parts of New York City or devoted their lunch period to the somewhat sedate event whose highlight was the raising of the Barbados Flag over Borough Hall and seeing it flutter in the early afternoon breeze.
“This is a fantastic day and may I say to you, happy 46th anniversary,” Sylvia Hinds-Radix, an appeals court judge of the New York State Supreme Court, told the gathering in the rotunda.
“I couldn’t stand before you today as an associate justice of the appellate division of the State of New York – I have recently been appointed by the governor [Andrew Cuomo] – were it not for Barbados and my Barbadian roots.
“I just want to say to you to make sure that your children in this country know from whence they came.”
Consul General to New York, Lennox Price struck a somewhat similar note.
“It is no secret that Barbados has come of age and we have made great strides over the years, particularly in the areas of education, health and culture,” he said.
“I need not remind you that we have only covered a few milestones along the way to developed country status. It is no idle boast that we have never considered the size of our country to be a shortcoming.
“On the contrary, we have demonstrated through diligence and hard work that Barbados has the capacity to withstand any difficult situation.”
He was quick to point to the challenges and suffering of Bajan victims of Hurricane Sandy in Brooklyn, Queens and elsewhere in the city, and appealed to nationals to lend a helping hand to those who were trying to put their lives back together.
Like Price and Hinds-Radix, Barbados’ Ambassador to the United Nations Joseph Goddard, appealed to Barbadians to assist hurricane victims through volunteer efforts and tangible forms of help.
The prayers and concerns of the people of Barbados about the situation affecting Hurricane Sandy victims were evident, he said, adding that the Freundel Stuart administration, although limited in its ability to respond to the tragedy, had asked Price to prepare a report on the extent of the property damage suffered by Barbadians and others and submit it to Bridgetown.
Turning to the country’s record of development in the decades since becoming a sovereign state on November 30, 1966, Goddard said it was clear that Barbados was on track “to being the smallest developed country by 2025”.
“The entire world is going through a very rough time because of the financial downturn that started in late 2007 and has persisted since,” but Barbadians would continue to move forward, he said.
Although the nation’s unemployment rate was “hovering around 12 to 13 per cent”, he said, the reality was that some rich states were confronting an even worse jobless picture, ranging between 30 and 40 per cent.
“That doesn’t mean we should not work assiduously to reduce it to a more acceptable level,” he added.
Afterwards, Goddard said that Barbados remained highly respected at the United Nations and in other international organizations where solutions were being sought for many of the pressing economic and social issues.
“Barbados can be proud of its international record,” he said.

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