“More than any other Caribbean society with the possible exception of Cuba, Barbados has arrived at a place where its uniqueness represents a model of governance, political economy, way of life, and social order, which invites emulation elsewhere in the Caribbean and further afield, albeit with appropriate amendments. Barbados’ high quality governance and level of human development have been a marvel to objective observers, including reputable international agencies. On a wide range of governance and developmental indices, Barbados is in the top rank globally; indeed, overall, it is a developing country with developed nations’ governance and human development attainments. All this is extraordinary for a country of 166 square miles and a quarter million people, which is less than 200 years removed from slavery and less than 50 years as an independent nation!”
Speech – “The Idea of Barbados” by Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves; February, 2014.
Today, November 1, we kick off month-long festivities for birthday number 53 with the annual Sagicor Lighting ceremony leaving our capital city in a night-time kaleidoscope of ultramarine and gold.
We should by all means celebrate, but more than the lights, the colourful display of national symbols and all the events, we should use the next 29 days to reflect on our nation, hopefully provoking a fresh wave of patriotism this Independence month.
We have inherited a rich legacy from countless men and women who were determined to chart a path for us to reach this milestone. We owe it to them, ourselves, and future generations to enlarge that legacy.
We bask in the significant contributions of the giants of our development: Errol Walton Barrow, Sir Grantley Adams, Bussa, Clement Payne, Sarah Ann Gill, Dame Nita Barrow, Sir Garfield Sobers – all patriots.
But equally, we, too, can be modern heroes, putting country before self and upholding our core values of pride and industry, mutual respect, fairness and integrity.
We are at a juncture where Barbados requires every hand on deck to lift us from economic and social decline. Citizens who anxiously don national colours and stand proudly at attention as the Broken Trident flutters in the breeze, should be ready to put our shoulder to the wheel to help our nation succeed.
Indeed, the lives of our heroes should guide our responses to today’s vexing challenges that threaten our future development.
Now is the time to make improvements in our homes, workplaces and communities to build a better Barbados.
It is time, to tackle the existential threats to the survival of the Barbadian Idea – such as our record year of crime.
Patriotic Barbadians must take a stand against criminals and activities that threaten to destabilize our peace and security, regardless of who is involved.
Our economy is still not out of the woods and it does not solely rest with Government to right the ship.
It’s patriotic for our leaders to put the interest of the people first, discard partisanship, build consensus and prudently manage our scarce resources with a bold vision for the future.
It’s patriotic for businesses to improve their operations, invest, pay their share of taxes and treat workers and customers fairly.
It’s patriotic for workers to put in an honest day’s work. Their daily contributions help to determine the overall success of our country.
Our country is in need of an all-round clean up and we are not just talking about ridding ourselves of the ridiculous dumping of garbage.
And it’s patriotic for Barbadians to shun the desecration of their environment, the abuse of children, and combat domestic violence or discrimination of any kind.
Let us, then, be guided by the words of our national anthem, to be “strict guardians of our heritage, firm craftsmen of our fate”.
As evidenced by the 2014 speech of Prime Minister Gonzales we quote here, there are many who are depending on Barbados to regain not only its diplomatic, political and economic strength but to reassert its moral, cultural and ethical leadership of our region.
Our good manners, sense of fair play and justice, respect for the rule of law and work ethic must once again seize the day, if the idea of Barbados becomes the ideal of the Caribbean.