Be mindful of the sacrifices your ancestors have made to bring you to where you are today.
This was the powerful message delivered by Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley as he passed the symbolic self-reparations baton to students at the Emancipation statue in Haggatt Hall earlier today.
Speaking on the eve of National Heroes Day, Lashley also told the students, who were drawn from nursery, primary and secondary schools that it was important for them to have a strong appreciation of their African heritage.
“Most of us, I believe all of us, are descendants of African slaves and therefore we feel that you should be made aware of your ancestry and the rich African culture that is part of the whole cultural identity of us as Barbadians,” Lashley said.
He also pointed to the significance of holding the ceremony at the location of the Emancipation statue, which honours Bussa, who led the first slave rebellion in Barbados.
“Although he and the persons who fought with him recognized that they may have perished . . . they stood up and they fought for a cause. They fought for the liberation of African slaves because they felt that enslavement was wrong. They felt that slavery was wrong,” Lashley said.
“So when you pass and you see the Bussa statue it ought to remind us of the sacrifice that often must be made so that others may survive,” he told members of his audience.
Lashley also called on the students to remember the sacrifices made by all the island’s National Heroes.
“They sacrificed their lives not that they could survive, they sacrificed their lives so that you and I who are the persons who would have been following the next generation, would have the kind of livelihood and the standard of living that we have today.
“I believe that as we are poised to celebrate and recognize another National Heroes Day that we must remember these solemn principles, we must remember the significant contribution of all of our heroes, and we should ensure that we respect them; that we respect in our daily lives what they have done to contribute to the development of Barbados,” Lashley said.
The minister also warned that unless the principle of reparations was recognized as a key part of Barbados’ identity, the country would not be able to advance “the significant and invaluable work” of its National Heroes.
“When I pass the baton to the schools, I want the schools to engage themselves in how can we do things better; how can we respect one another; how can we respect our communities, how can we use our education for our own upliftment,” he said.