The Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has 193 new members but not one of them can cast a vote in the next poll due within seven months.
That’s because the new Bees are between the ages of 11 and 16 and have joined the political party’s junior league.
However, before last night’s event was over, at least one Opposition Senator defended the party’s decision to induct members who were so young.
Wilfred Abrahams, who is contesting the Christ Church East constituency against Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe, said young people should be free to align themselves with any political party.
“You have to know your self worth. Know who you are and what you want in life. People say we should not be trying to get youngsters to join a political party from so young . . . but if we are trying to develop Barbados we need people who are confident to do what has to be done,” Abrahams argued.
“The victimisation culture has to stop. In Barbados we have a right to freedom of association. You are free to associate with anybody and any party that you choose to. It is up to you to know what is good for you and how to make that choice.”
Under the theme Remembering Our Past and Embracing Our Future the BLP promised to help the adolescents with their personal, social and educational development.
During the two-hour induction ceremony at Queen’s Park, The City, attended by several BLP candidates, party leader Mia Mottley urged the youngsters, dressed in traditional red of the Opposition party, to be assertive.
“You must be confident people, and you can be confident without being rude. You must be able to speak up and speak out when things are going wrong and when you think that something has to be said.
“You will be the ones whose curiosity will be satisfied . . . . More importantly, you will be the ones that in the future will make history, and pass it on to future generations.”
The Opposition Leader encouraged members of the party’s youth arm to spend time in their books to make wise decisions going forward.
Mottley, the Member of Parliament for St Michael North East, gave the youngsters a short political lesson while asking them to promise to become builders of Barbados.
“Recognize that politics means nothing if you don’t care about people. It doesn’t matter how bright you are or how well you can speak but what you must be measured [against] is how you care for each other and those around you.
“If you don’t care for each other, the basis on which we live as one family is torn. If you don’t care about people, you won’t care if they got water or food, or if they are working or not working,” she stressed.
Also speaking at the ceremony was Khaleel Kothdiwala, the 13-year-old who sprung on to the political scene after delivering a fiery speech at the BLP march of disgust against the Freundel Stuart administration last March.
Kothdiwala, a student of Queen’s College, explained his vision for the leaders of the future.
“The fact is we are all leaders. Whatever we go on to do in our lives, we are all leaders. Some are born, some achieve greatness and quite frankly, regardless of the category in which we find ourselves we all have the ability to inspire others, to motivate, to set a vision and to communicate.
“Leadership is a day-to-day matter on how we decide to do our best and how we get others to do their very best. The ability we have to make our world a better tomorrow starts with how we live our lives today,” the teenager told those gathered.