One of my favourite memories from childhood about Barbados would be about the time when all the schools and everyone basically joined hands to make a human chain around the island.
There was even a song that we all sang and everyone and everything just seemed so much more unified. We came together as a nation and a family and I don’t think anyone even questioned if it would work.
Faith, love, pride, industry and togetherness made it a reality.
It would be great to see something like that again for our Nation.
I was a young scout, in my teens and as patriotic then, as I am now. Reminiscing on my experience of that first Independence ceremony on a rainy, muddy day at the Garrison Savannah back in 1966, I feel as if my body has been transported in time again.
I can see myself sitting in that makeshift stadium on the southern side of the Savannah, looking out on the parade square and seeing our late Father of Independence and first Prime Minister, the Right Excellent, Errol Walton Barrow approaching the flag pole on which the Barbados national flag stood as though in silent anticipation to unfold.
I am again getting that most exhilarating, near-tears-of-joy-and-pride-filled experience, as I recollect watching our own gold and aquamarine flag with its broken trident, slowing climbing the mast and the British Union Jack disappearing to the bottom. I can still hear myself and the other hundreds of proud Barbadians cheering as our national flag was unfurled and flattered in the afternoon breeze.
That moment would have to be high on the list of my most memorable. But the greatest of all the emotions, exploded when, for the first time, I heard the National Anthem of Barbados, recognising that from that day onward, I would no longer have to subject myself to singing “God save our gracious Queen.”
As the band on parade struck up the music to “In plenty and in time of need, when this fair land was young, our great forefathers sowed the seed, from which our pride is sprung,” goose pimples were already taking over my body. And by the time the beautiful strains of the band were ended, I could feel that pride and industry, flooding my entire being. I felt free.
Independence Baby Kamilah Cadogan
“Your birthday is on Independence Day? You’re so lucky to have a day off!”
That is the reaction I get 95.32 per cent of the time when I tell someone that I’ve had the distinct pleasure to be born on November 30. And while the day off from work and school when I was younger is a major perk, Independence Day means so much more to me than just another day off.
From a very young age, my mother took me to the Independence Parade every year and I still find it exciting even now at 27. I think it is a very important staple of our culture and I hope it remains a part of our Independence fixture for many years to come.
When I think of Independence I think back to the night of November 30, 1966 when our first Prime Minister Errol Barrow proudly raised our flag and Barbadians watched as the Union Jack was lowered, symbolising our freedom from the United Kingdom. We were now a sovereign nation with our own democracy and had the freedom to make our own decisions. This tiny island that is not even visible on most maps, we were now on our own.
Then I think about how far we have come since then. We are an island that does not have any natural resources to speak of; all we depend on are tourism and sugar cane. Yet we have survived for the past 46 years because of the hard work of Barbadians.
I am filled with an overwhelming sense of pride when I think about my country and I know we as a people are proud as well. My sincere hope is that we continue to be 100 per cent Bajan and that we don’t only focus on national pride in the month of November. It should not take our Independence for us to show our love for our country. It should be the norm.
So after November 30th has passed, remember that daily we should give thanks for this wonderful land, for the craftsmen of our fate, for the fields and hills beyond recall because they truly are our very own. Happy Independence everyone.
I remember and can now confirm the year 1979 when the entire Barbados was excited about forming a human chain around the island. I remember my Mom pressing a print which showed the map of Barbados with people holding hands around this map onto my T-shirt. A very vivid memory from a child who was only 6 years old at the time. Everyone had these prints on their T-shirts at the time. I lived in Oistins, actually my parents still live there and my fondest memory was going out to the main road in front of the present Berinda Cox Fish Market and holding hands. People could be seen from as far as where the Post Office and Super Centre supermarket. The theme song for that Independence was ” Let’s join hands and show we love Barbados”. This song is still my favourite Independence song.
One of the pictures (at right) is with my Dad and me at the entrance to Seawell Airport, the one in the stroller is in front of my grandmother’s house as a baby and the next one is me with a family friend and a little cousin who was visiting from overseas also in front of my Gran’s house in Oistins.
I hope these memories are giving you the joy that I am feeling right now.
Shelton: Ahhhhhhhh!!!! Memories. The starlights that used to burn your hands, the bombs that boys would throw behind your feet. Knowing the story about Guy Fawkes and saying them. Ask the young people about Guy Fawkes and they would go “Guy who?” Lol.
Although I am “only 25” lol!! I was there that night on the Garrison. Was still too young to understand the significance of what Independence meant to Barbados and us as a people. What I remember is the rain pouring. I watched as the Union Jack came down and the Barbados flag was hoisted for the first time. My mum sounded proud at that moment.
Andrew: My first Independence day watching my uncle lower the Union Jack and raise our Bajan flag that was my fondest memory. Colonel lq may he rst in peace.
Margaret: I am “25” too and I remember; Banks had made a special beer for the occasion. Errol Barrow’s face was in fireworks; back then Barrow said, “yes we can” and Barbados has been holding her own pretty good since then — makes me tear up.
Edwin: My favourite moment of Independence was being able to buy “star lights” and run across the Bayland pasture in all black with my boyhood friends all of us having a lit star light and ran all around the pasture until they were fizzled out.
What does Independence mean to you?
For cricket great Sir Everton Weekes the concept of Independence is a farce. Like many other Barbadians on numerous Independence days he has gathered with friends and family for drinks, food and to thank the Lord for all the beautiful things he has given nevertheless a man’s opinion is his.
“What I have to say you won’t want to put it in print because I think it is a bloody joke,” he said. “It is one joke thing. How can you be so dependent on other people and you can call yourself independent. We too dependent on other people like: tourism, we don’t have any resources. It is one big farce – it is a political thing.”