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We owe it to our forefathers


DAVID ‘JOEY’ HARPER

We owe it to our forefathers

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THE CELEBRATION of this country’s 50th year of Independence is just a few days away and the planners seem to be working assiduously to ensure that Barbadians will be satisfied with how they spent the significant sum of money allocated to this project.

As would be expected, there are some who seek a justification as to why it was necessary, at a time when the Barbados economy is facing its most difficult decade – to expend over $8 million to raise a flag that had been already raised for significantly less on an occasion that to many seemed more important in the history of our country.

I happened to have been on Bay Street as Barbadians – young and old – were making their journey to the Garrison Savannah to witness our national Flag being raised, signalling the moment when we could all stand at attention with pride, singing our own National Anthem written and composed by Barbadians and at the end, soldier and civilian, saluted our Flag with pride.

The walk away from the Garrison was one filled with mixed emotions, because even then people were unsure as to what this new era in our life would hold for us, as 300 years of singing God Save the King/Queen would be hard to release from our still colonial thinking brains. Within months, we were reluctantly rising when our National Anthem was being played; today we neither stand, sing, be silent, nor salute in respect to either our Flag or Anthem.

Why? Because we have not trained our children to understand the true meaning of becoming independent or the many things we have achieved, the shackles we have dismantled, the colonial landmarks to which we were bound; the non-military “yes sirs” and “no sirs” our parents were ordered to obey, still cling tenaciously to us a part of our very being.

Next week we will attempt to reincarnate the meaning of Independence. The planners are trying so hard to make it a political memory rather than a national victory that they seek to omit parts of and names of people who sacrificed themselves in the battle that was fought and won – the battle that brought us from being undervalued cash-boys to managers. Yes, it may be hard for some of us to be a part of the shallow festivities, but that is not because we disrespect the memory; it is because those recalling the memories seem to want to disrespect all the craftsmen of our fate.

Let us in a few days pick up the pen laid down by Bussa, Adams, Barrow and the many others, and begin again to write our name on history’s page, strict guardians of our heritage, setting the path to become firm craftsmen of our fate; leaving none behind.

We owe it to all who crossed the sea chained to work, fought in the world wars that ensured we were not disadvantaged, built this nation and took us into Independence.

– DAVID ‘JOEY’ HARPER

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