First it was Lady Stella St John, now a second former first lady is taking the Government to task for its handling of the island’s 50th Independence celebrations.
Responding to a recent criticism levelled by Member of Parliament for St Lucy Denis Kellman that the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was not taking an interest in Golden Jubilee celebrations, Genevieve Adams said as far as she was aware “little discussion had been had between the Government and Opposition, so it was hard to take part in plans that you had not been a party to”.
The widow of late Prime Minister Tom Adams, who recently attended a tribute event held on Heroes Day in honour of her late husband and the other six Heads of Government, complained that the event was “pretty biased politically”.
She explained that the videos shown of the Prime Ministers were “very sketchy and left out really vital pieces of information”, adding that “all the [ruling Democratic Labour Party] Prime Ministers were shown speaking while none of the BLP Prime Ministers were shown speaking at all.”
Adams, whose husband served as Prime Minister from September 8, 1976 until his death on March 11, 1985, further pointed out that “an excerpt from Tom Clark’s book was all about Errol Barrow rather than a pure literary tribute to the author.
“The whole celebration of 50 years of Barbados Independence appears more and more like a party political election campaign and less and less like an inclusive, national celebration.
“This whole attitude is so childish and petty and seeks to belittle our Independence by using it as a means to win an election, rather than as a mature and thoughtful celebration of what nationhood could and should really mean,” she said in her email to Barbados TODAY.
Last month, Lady St John, widow of the late Bernard St John — who succeeded Adams to become the country’s third Prime Minister, serving from March 11, 1985 until May 29, 1986 — accused Government of committing a grave error of omission in its preparations for the event, entitled: A tribute to the Prime Ministers of Barbados: Friends of all, Satellites of None.
In response to a letter from Maxine McClean, chairperson of the 50th Anniversary of Independence Celebration Coordinating Committee, she said: “ . . . You end that letter by writing that, ‘you seek my input into what will be a stirring and fitting acknowledgement of Barbados’ seven Prime Ministers.
“[However] in your letter you failed to state that you intended to unveil a portrait of only one Prime Minister,” she told McClean, who is this country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
“Since that particular Prime Minister has already got a delegated holiday of his own – Errol Barrow Day, January 21st, I seriously suggest that portrait be unveiled on that day,” the former first lady said, while also suggesting that a more “fitting and stirring acknowledgement” of the island’s 50th anniversary of political independence would be the “unveiling of seven portraits of all seven Prime Ministers or none at all”.
The BLP had also accused the ruling DLP administration of seeking to politicize celebrations marking the 50th.
Addressing a group of party supporters last month, General Secretary Dr Jerome Walcott said he felt the DLP administration had been slighting the Opposition in relation to the Independence anniversary activities.
Dr Walcott also accused the organizers of the recent dramatic presentation at Golden Grove Plantation, St Philip, tracing Barbados’ development from the 1816 Bussa slave rebellion through to Independence until today, of a “ bold attempt to re-write and re-interpret history and to try to denigrate the contribution of the Right Excellent Grantley Adams to this country, one of our National Heroes.
“It is not right,” he said then.