EDITORIAL: We must tap into our potential
Last night the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) pulled off what could easily be one of the most popular events of Crop Over 2014, the VOB 40th Anniversary Calypso Monarchs In Concert show at the National Stadium.
It represented the work of a collection of some of the best calypso talent the region has to offer, but they were all kings and queens of the art form in Barbados. If the feedback we observed is any indication, the presentation was thoroughly enjoyable.
What’s more important though, is that those who got the opportunity to perform represent only a fraction of the talent available at that level, and in essence it suggests the event could be turned into one of the most anticipated productions of the annual festival for years to come.
Yes, the alterations, variations, adaptations and collaborations of today’s artistes, particularly the younger ones, have added new dimensions to the music, but there can be no doubt that the pioneering work of the fathers and grandfathers of calypso is still welcomed by a significant portion of the population.
But the lessons in this production have far wider implications for who we are, where we go as a nation and the type of society we sculpt for the future than just our musical culture. We hear it so often: we are an ageing society. But in many ways it appears that our concentration on the opportunities as well as challenges this presents centre on pensions and such matters.
But just as the NCF has seen the wisdom and value of using the veterans to inject an air of freshness into the festival and help stimulate flagging interest in one area of the calypso genre, our policymakers generally ought to see the wisdom of engaging the many still fertile and agile minds of our seniors, even if their bodies are not as limber and supple as they used to be.
Currently, many of our young people present a growing challenge for the wider society, and the absence of appropriate job opportunities creates the potential for a worsening problem presented by youth who don’t see an avenue for the attainment of their goals – or even facilities to help them figure out what those goals might be.
Our view is that our recently retired people represent an abundance of untapped or underutilised brain power, which, properly deployed, could fill much of the void created by limited employment opportunities.
But it is not just in formal education that we can find ways to engage our young and utilise our seniors. Government can systematically provide job opportunities through self-employment by putting in place the framework for a new programme of apprenticeship that connects unemployed youth with our retired or retiring mechanics, plumbers, bodywork specialists, dressmakers, tailors and other artisans who can pass on their skills in an informal way.
All we need to do is take the tune from the NCF and identify the “monarchs” in agriculture, fishers, joinery, landscaping, small engine repairs and a host of other areas where, while formal certification would be an asset, its absence does not have to be a hindrance.