Barbados is now in full celebratory mode following last night’s Sagicor Incorporated Lighting Ceremony held in Independence Square.
Scores of Barbadians and curious visitors gathered to witness the annual illumination of The City, in the national colours of gold and ultramarine blue to signal the start of community independence celebrations.
Delivering the feature address, Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett called for a rekindling of the community spirit for which the island has traditionally been known.
“The community is the heart of a nation, it is where our citizens reside. They vary in complexity, but together make up the fabric of Barbadian society. The differences present do not make excuses for animosity and/or confusion; they should be tools of enrichment for the fabric being weaved and not a tool that would be ripped apart,” Blackett said.
He also encouraged Barbadians to draw on each other’s strengths and individual gifts to build a better society.
“That is the mentality that needs to be cultivated if strength and unity are to be the outcomes of the community spirit we hope to develop and sustain,” he stressed.
Blackett also highlighted efforts by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, to foster unity at the community level, citing the SIT Unity programme that has been introduced in troubled communities.
“This activity brings together various communities by meaningful dialogue, various sporting disciplines used to bring together youth and it has been a measure of success,’ he said.
Blackett further encouraged all citizens to get involved in all activities during the month of celebrations.
“Let us get involved, as our national tapestry continues to be woven to showcase a picture of unity that is real.”
Sagicor is again the sponsor of the annual event, now in its 22nd year, and Chief Operating Officer Edward Clarke said the company remains a full supporter of efforts to bring more life to the country’s capital, Bridgetown.
While contending that The City was not dead, he proposed several upgrades to attract more people to Bridgetown.
“You can engage students, visitors, workers with free Wi-Fi access for easy communication and business. More green spaces for them to enjoy the heritage sights or simply seek to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. The many vacant buildings that we see around Bridgetown and the vacant lots coming into The City, especially those owned by the Government of Barbados, can be transformed and used to house new businesses to cater to the needs of those converging on Bridgetown,” Clarke said.
Last night, outstanding community builder and volunteer Carson Small had the honour of flicking the switch to light up the capital at the launch of the celebrations, being held this year under the theme Celebrating Community Spirit: Inspiring Strength and Unity.