Eighty years after the 1937 riots, an Opposition Parliamentarian has charged that Barbados is still not fully emancipated.
Barbados Labour Party representative for St Michael East Trevor Prescod levelled the charge Wednesday morning while contending that a lot of confusion currently exists in the country.
Prescod specifically highlighted Monday’s massive demonstration against the recently hiked National Social Responsibility Levy, complaining that as soon as “white people” joined the four major unions in taking to the streets, some reactionaries in the political class sought to pull the race card.
Prescod did not call any names. However, he went on to lament that within, and just outside, the very precincts of Parliament there remains today at least two towering images that only served to reaffirm his position that the country was still mentally enslaved.
“We spent a long time praising [the British Admiral] Lord Nelson.
We turned Nelson from facing the west to facing the east. I do not know if those who did it at the time felt they were progressive thinkers,” Prescod said in disparaging reference to the efforts of former Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford [now Sir Lloyd].
The well-known Pan Africanist also took issue with the fact that the statue of the late Sir Conrad Reeves is still prominently displayed at the top of the stairs of Parliament. Sir Conrad, who was the first black Chief Justice of Barbados, had been accused of making unflattering remarks about members of his own race.
“We talk about emancipation and you have people who are so trapped in the colonial education they received that they cannot see anything wrong with that,” the BLP representative said, while contending that there were other Barbadians more deserving of national recognition and acclaim on account of their personal sacrifices for the sake of liberation and nation building.
“That is why [the late freedom fighter Clement] Payne sacrificed all that he had, in terms of his philosophy and in terms of an advocate. That is what Israel Lovell sacrificed. These men knew just like the men in 1816 [who took part in the slave rebellion] that they could not engage themselves in battle with the militia in this country and the external forces that could be summoned if necessary.
“These men were courageous enough and committed enough to die for the cause in 1816,” Prescod recalled.
Speaking on behalf of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Marketing Officer Sindy Greene also lamented that while Payne had been accorded the distinction of National Hero, his able lieutenants Menzies Chase, Ulric Grant, Israel Lovell and Mortimer Skeete were yet to be recognized nationally.
“Payne’s able lieutenants are still on the backburner as they have not been accorded national significance except, perhaps, by local historians and by those of us who are gathered here today to commemorate
July 26, 1937.
“Notwithstanding their sacrifice, our citizens pay little regard to their efforts,” Greene said from her position at Golden Square, the City.
The area was Trinidad-born Payne’s stomping ground during his brief political career.
However, officials also lamented Wednesday that area in which his statue is located, was at times unkempt, with garbage floating around the base of the statue.
In a separate ceremony Wednesday at the St George Parish Church, special tribute was paid to Lovell at his gravesite.