The Friends of Barbados (DLP) Association’s annual Cocktail Sip was this year a grand affair –– the New York launch of Barbados’ 50th Independence Anniversary Celebrations and an expression of Bajan culture and patriotism. Indeed, the event held this year on Super Bowl Sunday at the St Gabriel’s Episcopal Church Hall in Brooklyn, was a blue and gold one, with awards, inspirational speeches, dinner, entertainment and dancing.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who gave the feature address, posited that Barbados had many economic, historical, political and social success stories –– all very good reasons why everyone should raise a toast and joyfully participate in the scheduled celebratory events.
The Prime Minister still remembered last year’s biting cold weather.
“It is cold in New York. It is no consolation for me that this year it is not as cold as last year. It is still cold, and that cold has only been assuaged by the warmth of your reception here this evening.”
He urged his audience to continue to be faithful ambassadors of Barbados.
“I want to thank all of you for being good ambassadors for Barbados here in New York, even though we have formally appointed ambassadors . . . and staff . . . .
“Every one of you here who has any connection with Barbados is a de facto daily ambassador for Barbados because the things you say, the things you do, and by the way you comport and deport yourself, you make a statement about Barbados,” Stuart said.
He recalled that 1966 was not Barbados’ first attempt at Independence –– 1651 was the first. He shared the significance of the Charter Of Barbados and the important role it played in the design of America’s constitution. He then gave an example of economic and social transformation, in Barbados.
Stuart referred to his recent meeting with sugar producers and the current sugar production expectations.
“So from 204,000 tons in 1967 Barbados is now struggling to produce 10,000 tons. And that should tell you something about the great transformation that has taken place in Barbados at the economic level. We no longer have a monocrop sugar economy.
“The spectacle of men and women walking barefooted to the plantation, with crocus bags tied around their waists, and to cut canes in the hard times is no longer with us. Those days have receded.
“It is not another way of saying that there is anything fundamentally wrong with that kind of work, for there is dignity in human labour. But there a great economic transformation has taken place in Barbados, and our economy now is being led by tourism.”
The Prime Minister suggested that the challenge over the next 50 years would be the transition from nationhood to genuine independence.
He also shared some of the milestones and linkages that would be celebrated this year. These include the 80th birthday of Sir Garfield Sobers, the Bussa Rebellion, the Barbados Workers’ Union, and the visit from a representative of Buckingham Palace. President of the Friends of Barbados (DLP), Trevor Massiah, reported that the organization had recently contributed to the Child Care Board in Barbados and a senior citizens home in Brooklyn. He also indicated that a new scholarship programme was in the planning stages.
Massiah was very pleased with last Sunday’s affair of which Peggy Cheltenham was the MC.
Dignitaries in attendance included Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Tony Marshall, Consul General at New York Dr Donna Hunte-Cox, former Consul General Lennox Price and Margaret Price, Consul John Blackman, Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix and Dr Radix, and Mount Vernon’s Mayor Richard Thomas.
Smokey Burke, Ian Webster and Lew Drayton entertained the audience, with Technic Mix (Andy Hewitt) providing the music for dancing.