I often like to write about outstanding service that I receive and I realize that I haven’t done that recently so I could not let this one pass. My daughter, who is studying in England, recently contacted a Caribbean restaurant, Cottons, in Notting Hill, London and managed to persuade the owner (who is from Singapore) to allow her to have an exhibition of her art in his restaurant. He agreed, and she also acted as curator for other artists in her network to arrange for them to have showings after hers is finished.
To help her out, I contacted the British High Commission in England to see if they could assist her by sharing news about the exhibition with the Barbadian Diaspora there. I was totally blown away by the help that the High Commissioner Guy Hewitt, himself gave her! As well as taking the time to personally congratulate her for arranging the exhibition, he agreed to share it with people in the diaspora and to provide any other help that she needed.
When she wrote to thank him for all his help, he simply said: “You belong to Barbados and by extension are under the care and protection of the Mission.” I can’t tell you how that touched me to know, as a mother, that there was someone there watching over my (and our) children who are away from home.
In case you think this was some special favour to me, let me hasten to add that in another email, the High Commissioner said that he treats all children as though they were his own. I also discovered other Barbadians that he has helped in other ways during his tenure. Everyone I speak to about him sings his praise. He has gone beyond the call of duty and has proven himself to be an outstanding High Commissioner representing Barbados with excellence.
It is unfortunate that positions like High Commissioners and Ambassadors are political appointments because I think that when we have people like Guy Hewitt representing our country abroad and looking out for Barbadians living away from home, they should occupy the position regardless of the party that is in power, unless of course, they chose to terminate their contract for other reasons.
I was hoping that the status quo of a new government appointing their political favourites to positions of authority would not continue, although, after the dastardly activities of the last Government before election day, I can now understand the need to have people in place that you know and can trust as you take up the mantle of leadership. The essential point is we need the best people in place and they all need to be held accountable for the organizations they manage.
There are so many issues that we need to sort out in the country and responsibility and accountability are at the core of making sure that they happen. We need to start as we mean to go on, and that includes hearing from the new Government their plans to change the Constitution to accommodate two senators who (apparently) do not meet the criteria laid out in the Constitution. Quite frankly, instead of constantly picking at the constitution, it would make sense to do a complete review of it now (bringing in past suggestions) and make one set of changes.
One of the changes I would like to see is the abolition of the Westminster system and have it replaced by the election of independent members to the House based on their own merit. In our early history, this was done but eligibility was based on being a significant landowner. However, today it should be based on what the individual can bring to the table in terms of knowledge and expertise, and on what they have already contributed to society.
Together, those elected officials would govern the country, led by a Prime Minister, not just because they happen to be the leader of the party with the majority of seats, but a man or woman whom the people elect separately as the person they see with the vision and the fortitude to lead the nation; a person who truly has the interests of the citizens and residents at heart and who will give a voice to everyone who contributes to the society.
No longer would there be division in the country where people are partisan and become seemingly blind, spend the entire election spewing hate on social media and on the call-in programs and cheer at political meetings while people’s characters are pulled down and dragged through the mud. I hope that was the last election of that despicable type.
The new Government has its hands full and there is an empty cupboard but, thankfully, they have put their hands to the plow right away. May we all work together to get Barbados back on track, and may we all take a leaf from the High Commissioner’s book and go beyond the call of duty.
Donna Every is an author, international speaker and trainer. She was the Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (2014-2016) and is the Barbados Facilitator for the WINC Acceleration Program.
Contact her at [email protected]