EDITORIAL: Need for just one Heroes Day
WE ARE CONSISTENTLY told by Government ministers, business people and other leaders that given the tough economic times “it can’t be business as usual”.
That is, all of us must increase our efficiency and boost our productivity to achieve greater levels of production.
And our collective efforts at this would help stimulate the economy and create an environment for economic growth.
With the calls for increased productivity getting louder, the time has come for us to dispassionately examine the number of holidays on our annual calendar.
At present there are 12, which some in the business sector have perennially argued are too many given the loss of productive man hours.
Around Easter this is particularly challenging as there are four bank holidays close to each other – this year all within 16 days. Because of the closeness of these days, vacations around Easter have become increasingly popular with workers because most usually get these four days plus the weekends added to their days on leave, thus extending their time off with pay.
If one accepts that the holidays at Easter are religious and must be observed as Barbados is a Christian nation, and May Day is the day to commemorate the advances in workers’ rights, that leaves us with National Heroes Day, which is celebrated on the birthdate of Sir Grantley Adams, the patriarch of the now opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
Yet in January we celebrate Errol Barrow Day, the birthdate of Barbados’ first Prime Minister and National Hero Errol Barrow – the symbolic father of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
It does not make sense to have two days to celebrate our National Heroes.
Given the partisanship involved in the proclaiming of the days, inevitably one of the occasions suffers a degree of devaluation.
And that partisanship and devaluation has been reflected in the manner in which both days are commemorated, depending on which party is in power.
We feel the DLP and BLP should seek to rise above partisanship by celebrating our National Heroes on one single day that is not the birthdate of either of their icons.
We suggest that day should be Emancipation Day on August 1.
We think this day is most appropriate because it commemorates the courage and struggle of those who fought to free our people from slavery and to uplift them. Our National Heroes by their individual actions also improved the lives of average Barbadians – so that day would best serve to reflect on the lives and work of all those great people who helped build our country.
At a time when Government has been trying to encourage greater national efficiency and higher productivity to spur economic growth, this bipartisan approach would also send a signal to the public that both parties are serious about getting the country moving again, and it is indeed not business as usual.