Former Government Minister Hamilton Lashley is pleased that Barbados will finally become a republic but is not impressed that the swearing-in of the country’s first president will take place on Independence Day.
He has suggested that Emancipation Day, which is celebrated on August 1, is the best day for the historic move.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced earlier this week that on the 55th Anniversary of Independence on November 30 this year, Barbados’ first non-executive president will be sworn in, after being elected by the electoral college of both Houses of Parliament.
Lashley said that many times during his stint in Parliament he made urgent calls for Barbados to shift from a monarchical structure, mindful that republican status would make Barbadians proud.
However, he said, November 30 is the wrong day for Barbados to mark the accomplishment of attaining republican status, as that would destroy the true meaning and symbolism of Independence Day which he said is one of the most significant days in the country’s history.
“We should not have Republic Day on the same day as Independence Day. Those are two outstanding achievements for Barbados by two outstanding Prime Ministers. Therefore, let each have its space and its relevance in the Barbadian society. I think it would be very wrong for us to celebrate Republic Day on Independence Day. Independence should maintain its status and its relevance in Barbados as it is, and also Republic Day,” Lashley insisted.
“Adult suffrage – Grantley Adams, Independence – Errol Walton Barrow, and Republic Day – Mia Amor Mottley. These are three outstanding days for Barbados. Why would you want to cover one on top of the other? It doesn’t make any sense.”
The former Parliamentarian said the move towards republican status is a step towards making Barbadians feel prouder of their identity as a people.
He therefore recommended Emancipation Day as the day for Barbados to mark the move to a republic.
Lashley argued that from the limited activities and celebrations on Emancipation Day, Barbadians do not treat the day which is observed as part of the annual Season of Emancipation as significant.
“People get up on the morning and put on their African wear. Then they travel from point A to point B and sing ‘We Shall Overcome’ with a leaf between their teeth. And then at 11 o’clock, 12 o’clock, except for a few events on evenings, there is no significance of Emancipation Day. And, therefore, this is a wonderful time that we could use Emancipation, with us as a republican state.
“To give Emancipation more status and more relevance… we can fuse the day together. Emancipation is the idea of the spirit of the people who struggled for freedom,” Lashley said.