EDITORIAL: Where is our pride?
NO ONE who even causally observes the state of public parks and public buildings in Barbados can be impressed.
Indeed, the same can be said of some privately maintained properties and some personal residences that are overgrown with bush and remain deliberately unpainted, tarnishing our landscape and spoiling our environment.
Unfortunately, in this respect there is an absence of the pride of nationhood that is proclaimed in our Independence mantra, Pride And Industry.
Not only is there poor maintenance or indeed neglect of these public and private places, but there is abject neglect and a lack of appreciation of their value as an indication of what defines us as a society of persons of dignity and self-respect.
Thus, the supplication that was given by Christopher Holder, chairman of the Maria Holder Memorial Trust, at the opening of a revamped public park at Wotton, Christ Church, recently is most pertinent: “Use the park, develop community spirit, have lots of fun, but please maintain it.”
Barbados is indebted to this charity for the generosity with which it has gifted many schools and important amenities on the island. Its purposeful pursuit of enhancing the quality of life for the young and the less fortunate in our society is simply astonishing. The country is fortunate to be the beneficiary of such big-heartedness and open-handedness. This level of kindness requires us to respect the plea of its chairman to take good care of these facilities, and indeed all others.
The least that we as a people and a Government can do is to make a special effort to ensure that the chairman’s modest wish is respected and the upkeep is maintained.
Twenty-four hours later, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley observed: “Let us break the cycle of poor maintenance and the lack of pride in our historic buildings and by extension, our city.” He was speaking at the handing over ceremony of the re-developed Jewish Synagogue.
One of the contributory factors plaguing building and park maintenance is the absence of local government. The neglect is palpable particularly in The City. Also, the growth and density of our rural population demand a return to minimum attention to details of road care, debushing, garbage collection and the provision of services that can no longer be handled efficiently by a central authority.
The establishment of Constituency Councils was an initiative that should have addressed the gaping need but, of course, this concept was unfortunately mired in partisan politics from its inception, was never funded in a way that allowed them to make any meaningful impact on the communities they served, and their structure and composition failed to provide for accountability and transparency.
In addition, the island is only divided and earmarked by constituencies for purposes of holding elections as against established parish divisions that are larger and more easily identifiable. Hence: “St Lucy ah come from” or “St Thomas ah come from”, and so on.
Residents only define themselves as being part of say St Michael South East as against St Michael South Central for purposes of exercising the plebiscite, making Constituency Councils defined political areas known for supporting one party or the other.
Neglect of public spaces and properties is an embarrassment that obviously does not escape the attention of either a minister or a non-resident.
Volunteerism has its place as we have seen splendidly displayed with the upkeep of the ABC Highway. But beyond that, our taxes and our levies and our surcharges are also meant to make a difference for the better.