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Empower black Bajans!

Gercine Carter

Empower black Bajans!

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While Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is contemplating economic citizenship for non-Barbadians, principal of the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, Sir Hilary Beckles, is advocating economic citizenship for “black Barbadians”.
“I want to say categorically that I am fully in support of economic citizenship. I am fully endorsing economic citizenship for black people,” Sir Hilary told an audience at the Frank Collymore Hall Monday night, as he delivered the Nation Newspapers’ 40th Anniversary Lecture.
Addressing the topic The Nation Within Our Nation: Media And People Power, Sir Hilary reflected on an independent Barbados that had been “crafted upon a formula of ethnic divisions of labour” in which “the black community would take responsibility for the management of the state and the white community would take responsibility for the management of the corporate structure”.
That equation, he stressed, required “a fair amount of silence on the one side and a fair amount of oppression on the other” and was ”not the ideal formula on which to build a modern nation”.
As the man at the centre of the five-year-old contentious issue surrounding “democratization” of the Barbados Mutual insurance company in the 1980s, Sir Hilary said that was a test of the NATION and Barbados. But he was satisfied the newspaper had demonstrated maturity and fairness in the way it handled the “Mutual affair”.
Sir Hilary said the NATION newspaper was born at a time when new ideas and new philosophies about social justice and equality were emerging in Barbados, and he noted the visionaries behind the venture represented a young generation of men and women determined to push Barbados and others “away from the colonial scaffold”.
These young men and women, he said, had dared to confront a past deeply buried in Barbados’ institutions.
“When those institutions do not give us the space that we need and we criticize those institutions, the response can be swift and painful.
“The remarkable thing I believe about the NATION’s great success is that it did capture the nation’s imagination, it did capture quite accurately and effectively what Barbadians truly wanted in going forward and it was critical in assisting them to realize that change had to come and that change would be a good thing.”
While some sectors expected the newspaper to fail at the outset, he saluted it for success recorded over the last 40 years, saying: “You have to give respect to good management, leadership, editorial vision and financial savvy.”
It was a night when praise was heaped on the people who founded the newspaper, with Chief Executive Officer of the Nation Publishing Company, Vivian-Anne Gittens, making mention of the first Editor-in-Chief Harold Hoyte, now Editor Emeritus; retired chairman of Caribbean Communications Network, Ken Gordon; and chairman of One Caribbean Media Sir Fred Gollop.