Barbados celebrates 52 years of political independence


Barbados Friday celebrated its 52nd anniversary of political independence from Britain, with Prime Minister Mia Mottley saying the island has regained its ability to “punch above our weight again”.

Mottley, the island’s first woman prime minister, told citizens that “Barbados shall forever be friends of all and satellites of none,” an apparent reference to the present economic situation facing the island.

Military Parade marking the 52nd anniversary of Barbados political independence

“Barbados will join the clubs when we can afford to pay the dues,” she warned.

The island has had to seek support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a bid to turn around an ailing economy and as she departed from tradition and delivered her Independence Message at the military parade at the Kensington Oval, Prime Minister Mottley said “We have come to Kensington Oval today on November 30, 2018, to say to the people of the world and to say to Barbadians that we too can punch above our weight again in this country”.

Prime Minister Mottley told the nation that her administration is planning a grand celebration for all Barbadians in 2020 as it would coincide with her administration’s perfection for the brightest possible Barbados.

“We will be inviting all Barbadians, those by birth, those by marriage, those by choice to come home during the year 2020,” she said, noting that the home-coming would start with the residents of the parish of St. Lucy in January 2020 until all the parishes are accounted for on a monthly basis ahead of November 29.

“And then from November 30, 2020 to the 31st of December we invite the whole nation to celebrate as we confirm the gathering 2020 on the people of Barbados. For this is our statement to our own and it is our statement to the people of the world,” she said.

Mottley said that her administration would also be placing much emphasis on getting young people more involved in sports as well as learning foreign languages.

She said the young people would be given an opportunity ‘to know what it is to play a sport because in playing a sport you learn to play together and to play in partnership with others.

“To be exposed to an artistic discipline because being exposed to an artistic discipline you learn to think and you learn to care and you learn to be tolerant and finally to be exposed to entrepreneurship and business because nobody is going to give us a living in this country.

“We need to make a living in this world for ourselves,” prime Minister Mottley told the nation.

In his first ever Independence Message, Opposition Leader, Bishop Joseph J.S. Atherley noted that as the island aspires to the achievement it contemplates over the next several decades “we need to resist any national posture which denies or defies the guidance we have relied on these past 300 years.

“We deny and defy that guidance when we continue to perpetuate the institutionalized and systemic reality of majority poverty. We deny and defy that guidance when we devalue human worth and dignity. We deny and defy that guidance when we over embrace the secular while denigrating the sacred.

“We deny and defy that guidance when we mismanage and destroy our environment. We deny and defy that guidance when we discard or diminish the value and virtue of family, industry, community and take on the character of the inferior alternatives of cultural imports,” he said.

He said part of the sober reality is that “we continue to expose our mothers, sisters, daughters to the erosion of their dignity through forced economic relationships, workplace exploitation and indecent wages.

“Honest reflection suggests that we fail the morality test when we continue to boast of growing employment numbers while far too many experience the reality of persistent under-employment and the absence of job enrichment.

“On reflection, we fall short of the morality threshold when we frustrate, stifle and put to death the aspirations of school leavers and graduates through a system that continues to prepare them annually for out-turn into a world of non-existent domestic opportunity. They then must settle for an unsatisfying and unfulfilling less –than-the-best fit. A best which we do insufficient to create,” he added.

Among those being honoured to mark the occasion were a distinguished early childhood educator, a retired business executive and a former chairman of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Retired educator Avisene Carrington has been made a Dame of St Andrew becoming the first centenarian to be conferred the island’s highest award since the National Honours began in 1980.

Kenneth Hewitt, a former chartered accountant, who acted as Governor General from August 28 to September 16, has been knighted for his contribution to the development of the international business sector, while attorney Philip Serrao was knighted has been recognised for his contribution to modernising the Barbados electoral system and its administrative process.

Meanwhile, the  Secretary General of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Irwin LaRocque in extending congratulations from the Community to Barbados, highlighed the country’s success as a nation and its role in the regional integration movement.

“The success of Barbados in various fields, as an independent nation, have helped to define the possibilities of what a small nation state can achieve,” LaRocque said, adding “these achievements should be a guiding light for the country as it confronts the challenges which currently beset it”.

The Secretary General noted that the Prime Minister Mottley, who has lead responsibility for CARICOm Single Market and Economy (CSME) in the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet, has no doubt recognized the platform that this regional initiative provides for Barbados, and indeed thee entire Community, to further growth and development.

“I am confident that under your guidance the implementation of the CSME will be significantly enhanced. I reaffirm my own commitment and that of the staff of the CARICOM Secretariat to work assiduously alongside you and your government in that regard,” he said.

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