2020 has been designated as the year of We Gatherin’ Barbados. An initiative by the Government in response to the Prime Minister’s call that Barbadians abroad and at home should gather this year in Barbados to reconnect and refresh what is best about our beautiful island nation.
This year-long campaign which started on January 1st at River Bay in the most northern parish of St. Lucy aims to, as the official website declares, “recommit to the core Barbadian values that deﬁne who we are as a proud, caring and industrious people with an outstanding tradition of excellence across every nook and cranny of Barbados.”
“‘We Gatherin’ will focus on rebuilding that spirit of community at the core of our traditional Barbadian way of life. It will provide opportunities for all Barbadians to celebrate, participate and invest in events and projects across the entire island.”
I attended the official We Gatherin’ Service on January 5th at the St. Lucy Parish Church, perhaps the only non-Christian in the congregation. It was certainly an introduction for me into the parish of St. Lucy, especially from the sermon so eloquently presented by the Reverend Curtis Goodridge.
As pointed out by him, St. Lucy was the most appropriate parish to kick-start the We Gatherin’ campaign. At the north or top of the island, straddling the North, West and East between the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea and the only parish in Barbados which carries a feminine name, the people of St. Lucy were extremely pleased to lead the way in 2020.
I wanted to attend the heritage walk from the parish church to Mount Gay taking in several historic venues along the route, but exhaustion from an early morning hike in St. Andrew prevented me from joining the hike that afternoon. My family did participate, and they were all pleased to learn things and visit places of historical significance in that parish.
From all feedback, the month of January and the We Gatherin’ events went well in St. Lucy and now for February, that baton has been passed on to St. Peter.
This campaign is worth every Barbadian’s support. It is not simply a Government initiative but a campaign we should all embrace in whatever way we can. As the Prime Minister said, this is for all Barbadians… those at home and those anywhere in the world… Bajans by birth, Bajans by descent, Bajans by choice… and those who love Barbados… to join heads, hands and hearts to help “build the best Barbados… together”.
Having sat in on a few meetings that included heads or their representatives of Parish Organizing committees, I could sense the excitement and exuberance coming from each parish in ensuring their respective parishes put on the best showing in We Gatherin’ events. St. Lucy has certainly set the bar high in this regard so we can look forward to even more exciting events in the coming months.
Reconnecting to what Barbados has allows us to look inward rather outside. It encourages Barbadians abroad to also do the same, to come home and re-establish those ties and give something back to Barbados.
One of the important themes of We Gatherin’ 2020 is investing in Barbados. Small to big, whatever we can do to make Barbados a better place, [we should do]. And as it’s been said, it doesn’t have to be money, it can be a person’s most valuable resource – time. We can all give up a bit of our time to make another person’s life a bit more comfortable. These are the messages We Gatherin’ is hoping to get across. As stated: “Who we are as a nation is firmly rooted in the memory of what we have overcome and what we can achieve together, hand in hand, parish by parish”.
In 2019 Ghana promoted that year as “The Year of Return”. It was linked to the 400th anniversary of slaves landing in the US. Ghana was a key transit point for transporting slaves and as a BBC report stated, the President said his country felt a responsibility to welcome all those who could trace their ancestry to Africa.
President Nana Akufo-Addo declared “The Year of Return” as “a great success” for Ghana. Government officials spoke to an increase in visitor arrivals and an injection into the economy of US$1.9 billion. Some analysts have disputed these figures but most concede that Ghana’s image on the international arena was definitely enhanced by the “Year of Return”. As the BBC report pointed out, “The country attracted a number of celebrities in 2019, including model Naomi Campbell, actor Idris Elba, comedian Steve Harvey and American rapper Cardi B.” These celebrities with their thousands of social media followers helped in attracting positive attention to Ghana.
Our Prime Minister also visited Ghana in 2019 on an official visit and was accorded the highest respect and welcome. Most Barbadians can trace their ancestral path through Ghana. And so the many symbolic events that took place in Ghana led by the Prime Minister were important in re-establishing those links.
We Gatherin’ 2020 is Barbados’ Year of Return – our turn to showcase Barbados and attract the international community to what Barbados is about. Applying ‘Vision 2020’ to the We Gatherin’ activities grants us the opportunity to look beyond 2020 in charting a course for Barbados. Again, as the website points out: “Our future is now, and this vision gleams brightly for 2020. Together we will use the valuable tools and lessons of the past so magically reflected almost every week in our articulate centenarians. We will embrace the positive exuberance of our innovative youth to ensure our digital competence will serve us well beyond today and into many tomorrows.”
There are several exciting and positive ventures on the We Gatherin’ calendar for 2020. Apart from the fun and social events, the philanthropic opportunities are there for all to give something to, time or resources.
I hope Barbadians will take full advantage of these and help to make the campaign a resounding success.
Suleiman Bulbulia is a Justice of the Peace; Secretary of the Barbados Muslim Association; Muslim Chaplain at the Cave Hill Campus, UWI and a Childhood Obesity Prevention Champion. Email: [email protected]