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EDITORIAL: Spirit of Independence

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Spirit of Independence

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November 30, 1966, is one of the most important dates in Barbados’ history. It was the birth of a new nation and a time that inspired hope in most of its people at home and abroad.
When this country took that important step towards political independence it also meant taking responsibility for our own destiny in so many other important ways beyond the mere political decision.
Today, the hope for a better tomorrow is still paramount even as we grapple with new and different circumstances. 
Since that day when we traded the symbols of British colonial rule for our own flag, a coat of arms and an anthem, we can reflect with true pride and industry on our many of achievements.
We have come to value things like free and fair elections, freedom of speech, a free Press and the strides we have made whether in education, health, housing or the development of a new entrepreneurial class.
So, as we celebrate this Independence Day it must be more than a mere occasion for fun and frolic. It must go beyond the symbolism of a parade by our military, paramilitary and uniformed groups. It should be a time for us to reflect on the real significance of this day and more importantly how best we can prepare for the future in order to maintain and protect our independence.
In many measures this country has lived up to the dreams of its founding fathers, despite some obvious challenges encountered on the journey of nationhood.
It is inevitable that we will compare ourselves with other independent nations within the English-speaking Caribbean and while we can be proud of our achievements when compared with our neighbours, we must keep an ever watchful eye for those negatives that threaten to encroach our homeland and not let them get out of control.
What might have most dispirited a lot of Barbadians has been our poor economic performance over the past five years. Despite the island’s vulnerability to external shocks of our main trading and economic partners, the hope was that we would have seen an upturn by this stage. 
We have gone through some economic troughs before and have emerged successful. As a people we must show our elasticity and work both individually and in unity for effective solutions.
Today many would have been honoured for their outstanding contributions to the development of this country and National Hero Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow will be remembered as the architect behind political independence. 
But we ought not to forget that there were many people about who have contributed significantly to the development of modern Barbados but were not lauded. We must still cherish their valuable contributions.
Let us appreciate what this holiday means to Barbadians and why it is so special. As a people we must be optimistic about our future. There must be cause for celebration.
Happy birthday, Barbados.