I was sitting and speaking with an elderly gentleman during our Six Mens Alive event, which was held on Saturday September 1, 2012, and I was quite intrigued by the level of knowledge he had regarding the history of Barbados and the governmental system. We spoke for about 30 minutes and honestly I came away from the conversation a wiser man.
One of the statements he made that caught my attention was that recent governments have stolen the dream from Barbadians. I asked him to explain what he meant. He explained that when he was a boy the excitement that was generated by the sugar crop approaching affected the whole nation. He said that the cutting of the canes meant something more to Barbadians than just the money. They knew that they were contributing to the island’s success and development.
Many tradesmen stopped their work to cut cane, husbands and wives and in some cases entire family units got together to cut cane, he said, and this would have brought much money into the household each week. This helped to build entire houses without a 30-year mortgage — some three and four bedroom, he exclaimed.
He further noted that back then Barbados was recording over 300,000 tons of sugar, and all of it was cut by hand, and now we are struggling to reach 30,000 tons in 2012. He said that, back then, if you asked anyone if they believed that Barbados’ future was bright it was a sure yes, but if you ask that same question today the response is one of doubt and uncertainty.
“They have stolen the ability to dream of brighter and better things”, he said. “I never thought for one moment of the possibility of living in a Barbados that was so in debt and corrupt.”
I asked him: What do you think went wrong?
He said in his opinion, “these two parties we have now took the country in the wrong direction, in fact, they sent the people in one direction and went in another, and when the people realised that they weren’t being lead, everyone began to look out for themselves”.
“We stopped caring for and loving each other and we stopped caring about our island. Where there’s no vision, the people perish, and right now the leaders have no vision for this country,” he added.
“If you can get Barbadians to dream again then you might have a chance in the election,” and this was his final words for the night to me.
When I got home, I couldn’t help but sit quietly and reflect on what was said to me, that the ability to dream had been taken away from the Barbadian society by the Government. As a spiritual person, I know the consequences of not having a vision or dream of the future or what you want to accomplish.
I have to admit that I never looked at the ills of Barbados from the point of view of misdirected leadership, but it was certainly an eye opener to a more deep seated reason behind the acceleration of our demise as a country.
Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, pointed to a better day of unity and prosperity in America, and now we have their first black President in Barack Obama. President John F. Kennedy’s vision of putting a man on the moon, lead to an explosion in scientific development.
Errol Walton Barrow had a vision of free education in Barbados, which led to the production of brilliant men and women, but in the last 19 years of governance in Barbados, what was the vision that was communicated to us by our leaders? Absolutely none.
We simply don’t know where we are going as a nation, and this poses a serious problem to us as a people if we continue down this path.
The NBKA however, has a vision for Barbados and Barbadians, a vision that can and will be clearly communicated to all. A vision to make Barbados work for Barbadians, a vision to bring glory to this island in all areas, a vision to put money where it needs to be so that it can benefit our citizen.
A vision to effectively communicate to our citizens how to access the governmental systems that are designed to prosper them. We are at a strategic inflection point here and we must mobilize ourselves in a manner that we can step towards he future knowing that we are prepared and ready to welcome it.
The NBKA is committed to making Barbados work for Barbadians.