Minister of Culture, Sport and Youth, Stephen Lashley has taken some members of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to task for suggesting there’s little to celebrate in this jubilee year of independence.
“I heard that in Parliament only this week that as a nation we don’t have much to celebrate. I thought this was unfortunate,” said Lashley, who argued strongly that not withstanding the current challenges the island has with water, garbage collection and unemployment, its accomplishments over the past five decades outweigh the problems.
Delivering the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) lunchtime lecture at the party’s George Street headquarters, he also argued that now was the time for politicians to unite in the national interest, pointing out that “in many countries the celebration of a milestone of 50 years is met by a very bi-partisan response.
“Both Opposition and Government come together as a nation. As a matter of fact there was a gigantic celebration in Singapore [for their 50th Independence celebrations] because of the notion of what independence meant,” Lashley said.
His comments came against the backdrop of last month’s declaration by Opposition Member of Parliament for St Joseph Dale Marshall that he planned to boycott the activities for the climax of the 50th anniversary of Independence.
Marshall stated that until the water woes in his constituency were resolved, the garbage collected and roads fixed, “the country had nothing to celebrate”. He also charged that the feeling of nationalism among Barbadians had been eroded and was being replaced by “an act of despair and desperation” because people were losing faith in their country.
However, Lashley told DLP members that from the get go, the Opposition has been against Government’s 50th anniversary plans.
“Of course you would reflect on the fact that even at the time that the Democratic Labour Party pursued the Independence celebrations, there was resistance coming from within the bosom of the Barbados Labour Party,” he said.
“I think that nationalism requires even them [BLP] to put aside the trivial display of partisanship and join Barbados, not the Government, in acknowledging the significance of 50 years of political independence,” Lashley stressed.
The minister of culture said the 50-year milestone serves as an opportunity to reflect on the challenges which Barbados has had to overcome through the decades.
“It is a giant step for us to stop, pause, reflect on where we have come from, the challenges that we have met but the fact is that in all of that, Barbados can still boast of being a stable democracy with many services, which countries bigger and mightier than us are now struggling to achieve,” he added.