Even as the pomp and pageantry synonymous with the annual Community Independence Celebrations heralded the start last Saturday evening, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley implored Barbadians not to forget the purpose of the festival.
Speaking to a large audience in Granny’s car park in Oistins, Lashley called on every Barbadian to be sensitized to the true meaning of Independence.
He said: “Too often, we fail to appreciate the value of things Barbadian. Too often we fall prey to the trend of lacking confidence in our local products and services, and even in our country. Too often we prefer to place our trust in, and place a higher value on, things from other parts of the world. But I should like you to reflect on the fact that in the Community Independence Celebrations programme, we have a veritable national treasure.”
In that same vain, Lashley pledged that his ministry would move to assist the acclaimed folk choir Sing Out Barbados, which is this year celebrating its 44th anniversary, to fully document its music. Further, the minister, who is also responsible for youth, applauded other stakeholders for their unwavering support for the celebrations.
These include Parish Independence Committees, attendants, ambassadors and volunteers.
“They receive no remuneration for their efforts, but every year they make a commitment to the execution of the Community Independence Celebrations programme within their respective communities, and they dedicate their time to conceptualizing and organizing activities aimed at strengthening their communities. They also work tirelessly with the young ambassadors,” Lashley said.
Hinting that some changes were imminent, the minister said that for any such programme to grow, evolve and remain relevant to our communities change was a natural occurrence.
“So changes must come; and with this in mind, it is therefore my intention to have the secretariat arrange a series of meetings within each parish, so that views of Barbadians on how they perceive the profile of the celebrations of the future can be obtained,” Lashley said.
“In light of this, I would like to commend the PICs for their hard work and dedication. You must be heartened by the fact that you do not have to have any doubts about the difference that you are making in your communities. The evidence speaks for itself. And I know that you have feelings of pride and fulfilment when you see projects executed successfully, and when you watch your Parish Ambassadors grow from strength as they go through the programme.
“To all Barbadians, I encourage you to come out and enjoy this year’s various activities,” he added.