Prime Minister Freundel Stuart last night said Barbados’ only living National Hero Sir Garry Sobers would forever be intimately connected to the country’s Independence because of his exploits on the cricket fields in a series between the West Indies and England in the same year Barbados attained political independence from Britain.
Stuart told a ceremony that formed part of the celebration of Sir Garry’s 80th birthday, it was fitting that the Barbados and West Indies all-rounder’s sterling display came at a time when the Right Excellent Errol Barrow had confidently told the former “colonial masters” that he had travelled to the United Kingdom to achieve independence for his country but not to linger on the door-steps of the colonial office.
Sir Garry scored 722 runs in the series with an average of 103, while taking 20 wickets and ten “legendary catches”, the Prime Minister recalled.
“[Sir Garry] will always be linked to the solid 50 years of independence between 1966 and 2016,” he told the thousands gathered at Kensington Oval for the occasion, and those following the event on radio and television.
Stressing the symbolism between Sir Garry’s confidence on the cricket field and Barrow’s refusal to give in to the fears expressed by naysayers of the pre-independence period, Stuart recalled that on January 4, 1966, a resolution was debated in the House of Assembly calling on Her Majesty’s Secretary for the Colonies to convene a possible conference to settle the issue of Barbados’ Independence.
He reminded the audience that the resolution was passed by a vote of 14 in favour and eight against.
“So there were some doubts in Barbados as to whether or not we should proceed to independence at all, or whether we should proceed alone,” Stuart said.
However, he stressed that Barrow was not deterred despite opposition from those who felt the island was too small to sever links with Britain, in very much the same way the West Indies Cricket team under Sir Garry’s captaincy did not relent against the same colonial power.
Recalling that the West Indies team defeated England 3-1 in the series, Stuart argued that it was not so much the crushing defeat the team inflicted on the English team that mattered to Barbadians, but Sir Garry’s outstanding performance on the field of play.
Stuart argued that during his career Sir Garry was a source of inspiration and encouragement for many young men and women, not only in Barbados but across the Caribbean region.