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EDITORIAL: Relevance of Heroes Day on the decline


EDITORIAL: Relevance of Heroes Day on the decline

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LAST WEEK BARBADIANS had the luxury of two public holidays, National Heroes Day on Tuesday, April 28, and May Day on Friday, May 1. The significant loss of two days of national productivity in one week has raised more than a few concerns across the country.

While we too have some questions about the value of incurring such a loss at this time when many busineses and individuals are struggling to keep their heads above water, our immediate concern is the apparent lack of significance associated with National Heroes Day.

For a number of years, the national approach to celebrating this day has been dwindling, with the interest of the Government barely discernable, while valiant attempts by non-governmental organisation such as the Clement Payne Centre have traditionally attracted a response that has been closer to parochial than national.

In fact, the official Press release from the Barbados Government Information Service announcing the only national event for the day read: “The Ministry of Culture, Sport and Youth will pay tribute to Barbados’ ten National Heroes, with a free concert in Independence Square, The City, on Tuesday, April 28, starting at 5:30 p.m.

“Members of the public will be treated to performances from several local artistes, including singer Michael Mikey Mercer, spoken word artiste Adrian Green, the 1688 Orchestra, vocalist Indra Indrani Rudder, and veteran calypsonian Anthony Mighty Gabby Carter.”

Given then that Heroes Day 2015 passed with hardly a whimper, it is time to review the importance of this day. We hardly think we could find more than a handful of Barbadians, perhaps with the exception of schoolchildren undertaking some assignment, who gave even a single though to one of our National Heroes on April 28.

If the Government of the day cannot formulate and sustain a programme designed to highlight the significance of naming and celebrating our ten National Heroes, it is hardly likely that individual private organisations or clubs will. Perhaps, with the exception of the only living National Hero, The Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers, too many Barbadians see little or no connection between their lives today and the contribution of the heroes to the country’s history and development.

Maybe it is that three years short of two decades of celebrating these ten outstanding Barbadians, the programme has grown stale – and Barbadians now feel they have heard it all before. Perhaps those responsible for erecting the huge portraits of the heroes on the Treasury Building in Bridgetown have grown tired of the exercise since we have not seen them recently.

All this leads quite naturally to the questions: Do we need a National Heroes Day at all? Would we be worse off as a country if it were to be removed from the annual roster of public holidays?

Alternatively, we could also ask whether the problem stems from the annual lack of creativity associated with the national programme of celebration. Whichever question we determine is the real one, and regardless of the answer we arrive at, it is clear that it is not in the national interest to arrive at another National Heroes Day with an agenda similar to the one we “celebrated” last week.

Certainly we can do better in the name of Sir Garry, Bussa, Sarah Ann Gill, Samuel Jackman Prescod, Charles Duncan O’Neal, Clement Payne, Sir Grantley Adams, Errol Barrow, Sir Hugh Springer and Sir Frank Walcott.