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SHANTAL MUNRO-KNIGHT: Heartfelt thank you for all the support


SHANTAL MUNRO-KNIGHT

SHANTAL MUNRO-KNIGHT: Heartfelt thank you for all the support

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WRITING THIS COLUMN has certainly been a joy over the few years I have been doing so. When THE NATION first approached me about writing it, I was not sure about my own voice, what I wanted to say and how it would be received. The latter perhaps worried me the most as I suppose it would all writers. You are not always sure that what you want to say will find resonance or that it adds value to the prevailing discussion. Let me thank all of you who would have met me or written to me – not always agreeing with everything I wrote but at least letting me know someone was reading and you were engaged.

I met a lady in Sheraton once who told me she always wanted to meet me to let me know that while most of the time I wrote with sense she had been longing to give me a good knock for some of the foolishness I write at other times. I enjoyed talking to her immensely. There are also those who write me to give me good, incisive feedback on my articles, like Victor, Steve and, Maurice. I also enjoyed my early morning calls from my well known friend who would call from time to time to say good job and give me a good history lesson about some of the issues I was writing about.

Over the years it has been challenging. I was consistently late with my submissions but always with a very good excuse.

I recall the time I actually submitted a piece well within the time frame – I had to signal to the editor that prior to opening she should take care not to fall off her chair. Let me say thanks so much for putting up with me. 

Despite those who would want to suggest that my writing was somehow politically motivated, I can honestly say, for whatever it is worth, that I have never once in any of my articles written from a place of favour or fear for any political party or friend. My personal integrity is critical; I hold it as paramount and would never allow my writing to be comprised. I have always therefore been honest in my writing, which does not mean that I was always right but certainly I have consistently tried to convey my honest assessment from my personal and professional standpoint.

What has been most interesting for me is the many average Barbadians who would meet me and ask me if I was not afraid of political victimisation or some type of reprisal for my writings. These kinds of comments were both sad and illuminating. They suggest that we are not accustomed to honest critique but also that people perceive that Barbados is place where victimisation for such critique is the norm.

I have never been afraid and never thought that I should be. I firmly believe that we can and should be respected for our differing opinions and in a mature society constructive dissent is not only needed but necessary. Even though I have had some very vehement arguments with many friends and political allies of either party about some of my writings, I can honestly say that I have never perceived any sort of political victimisation. On the contrary, I have had many engaging conversations with parliamentarians from both sides and I am consistently greeted very cordially by the Prime Minister even though he has been the butt of some of my very harsh criticisms.  

This year 2016, I will begin a new journey and I do want to make sure that wherever that journey takes me my writings remain uncompromised. 

So as I take my leave and close the Firing Line, I thank all of you kind readers and THE NATION for allowing me into your space. I have valued it tremendously. We are all of us responsible for the success and failure of our homes, communities, society and country. This shared responsibility requires of all of us active and conscious engagement; to strive for more, to do better, to reject mediocrity and to become impatient with standing still. 

I wish all of us a better, more open, more transparent and inclusive Barbados for 2016.  

Shantal Munro-Knight is a development specialist and executive coordinator at the Caribbean Policy Development Centre. Email: [email protected]

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