All of the pomp and pageantry of which Barbados is known were on display yesterday at the launch of the 50th Independence Anniversary Celebrations.
From a parade of uniformed groups, to a thrilling display of Barbados’ culture, the thousands of Bajans who turned up for the historic occasion had something to be proud of. The event ended with a sensational fireworks display.
While some had mixed views about the grandeur of the event, many were quite happy with the evening’s festivities.
16-year-old Jherard Morris-Sealy was extremely excited to be witnessing the nights activities.
“I am ecstatic I am here, I’m glad that I am alive to witness this,” said the Barbados Community College student.
Elated to have the mere memory of what transpired at Independence Square, Morris-Sealy expressed that he was proud to be Bajan, as “the people are amazing [and] the lifestyle is amazing”.
Queens College student Shermona Rodney shared similar sentiments, describing the event as a major accomplishment.
“ [We] have accomplished a lot in 50 years; free education, better work networks, better infrastructure and for me the celebration is definitely warranted,” said the Queens College senior prefect.
“We definitely need to show people that even though we had some challenges over the 50 years we still acknowledge where we come from and it is necessary,” she added.
Julie-Ann Bowen, a teacher at St George Secondary School, also highlighted the importance of commemorating this major milestone.
“This is 50th anniversary. . . we can look back and realize that though we are a small island that we have made it through all of those years and come to be a real focal point of the Caribbean being a small 166 square miles and we have accomplished so much. Yes, we are in harsh times right now but we can look around us and smile and see that we have come from hardship and we are still surviving. Just seeing the students lining the streets shows how much we appreciate the island,” she said.
While the youth were caught up in the present, older Barbadians were transported back to their childhood memories of 1966, when the country attained politican independence.
Sonia Moore was a child when Errol Barrow was sworn in as the first Prime Minister at the Garrison Savannah.
“I can remember lining the streets outside of Villa Nova with my little Barbados flag waiting for the queen to pass and the rain was falling and I got wet on that day,” said Moore, who attended today’s event with her daughter Ramona Downes.
Meanwhile, former politician 75-year-old Mark Williams observed one striking similarity with 1966.
“What is very beautiful, almost a repetition very earlier when the Prime Minister was speaking . . . in 1966 they had a problem with the sound system . . . from standing across the bridge here [I] could not hear what the Prime Minister was saying,” he said.