Principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies Professor Eudine Barriteau is appealing for corporate support in completing the Mandela Freedom Park, which was opened by the university last year in honour of the late South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela.
Speaking during a special celebration at the UWI marking what would have been Mandela’s 100th birthday on Wednesday, Barriteau said he continued to serve as a beacon of encouragement for Cave Hill administrators in their educational pursuits.
“Nelson Mandela’s famous observation that education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world, coupled with his exemplary life of a commitment to upend injustices, demonstrated for all humanity crucial lessons on leadership,” she told those gathered at the Roy Marshall Teaching Complex on the day designated by the United Nations as Nelson Mandela International Day.
“His regard for, and subsequent pursuit of tertiary education helps us in our quest to underscore the value of access to higher education as fundamental building blocks or stepping stones for those who wish to embark on a life of leadership and service.
“Indeed, our strategic pursuit of ensuring greater access to tertiary education remains one of the central pillars of our educational philosophy,” the principal stressed.
With respect to the Mandela Freedom Park, which was opened by his granddaughter Ndileka Mandela in March 2017, Barriteau said the cash-strapped university had been unable to complete “that social and recreational space in a manner befitting his memory”.
“[However] we remain optimistic that our corporate and philanthropic partners will assist us in completing this project and present to the citizens of Barbados and this region a facility for relaxation and intellectual engagement on issues such as integrity, good governance, commitment to social progress and speaking truth to power,” she said, adding that the university envisioned the park becoming “an idyllic setting to facilitate peaceful reflection, stimulate spiritual renewal and intellectual regeneration [and]
. . . viewed as a space for public reasoning and for engaging with the thorny issues affecting Caribbean life”.
Mandela, who has been credited for his leadership of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, went on to serve as the country’s first black president before his death in December 2013 at age 95 after suffering from a prolonged respiratory infection.