“We have a story to tell the world and we need you to help us tell it,” was one of the requests Prime Minister Mottley made when she addressed the large gathering of Barbadians in the Diaspora – from the Tri State and elsewhere – who attended a recent town meeting held at the Friends of Crown Heights Community center in Brooklyn, New York.
PM Mottley spoke to the idea of an expanded role of Barbadians living abroad, in general, and specifically cited a national achievement which Barbadians take for granted. She also spoke of Barbados’ first-hand experience with climate change, as part of the story which Barbadians have to tell the world.
“I keep making the point that we have a story to tell the world. How many regions of the world have gone from where we were in the 1930s to where we are now, without bloodshed? That is something that we take for granted. You have religions clashing across the globe today, and we have in 166 square miles every possible religion that you can find in the world, in Barbados today.“
Barbados’ experience with climate change is another part of an important global voice, explained Mottley. “Your voice is important and your voice will help to swell the numbers, because when people are telling you that climate change is not real, you can tell them that your people in Barbados know that it is real… Tell them to check the beaches on the West coast of Barbados and ask them how many cobblers they will find.
“When I was growing up, and you walked on the beach on the West Coast, you got cobblers in your foot and we had to use soft candle to get them out (loud laughter). We didn’t start the war but we are on the front line. We are not the ones letting go the gases that are causing the earth to heat up. So your voice becomes a creditable voice to help fight the battle – this madness with climate change – which is causing the storms and the coastline to be eroded.”
Mottley alluded to assigned Ministerial Diaspora Relations and proposed a grand gathering in 2020 as a strategy to enable the connection between Barbados and Barbadians abroad.
“We accept that there must be more than engagement. I really wanted to do this for the 50th Anniversary, but I wasn’t there to call the shots. But I feel there has to be a gathering of generations. We want to start in January 2020, which is the next best date, and we want everybody who is affiliated with St Lucy to come home… And then in April, we are asking persons from St Joseph to come home… April is the birthday of Sir Grantley and we always gather for it… And then in November, we want persons from St Michael to come home, because it is the most populous parish. And then we want everybody to come back in December.”
Gatherings are nothing new, said Mottley. “We are going to market it as THE GATHERING 2020. We do this all the time and this gathering is one big Bajan family. We need to do it because we need to set some targets as a people. Wherever we are on the planet, we have business to do in Barbados. But, it is more than that. It is also about getting us to understand our story. And we need to do this because we need to get together as a people.”
Walter Edey is an author and retired math and science educator who believes that structural thinking is the wave of the future.