By Hon. Mackie Holder Consul General of Barbados in New York
My Fellow Barbadians and Friends of Barbados, Our 56th Anniversary of Independence and First Anniversary of as a Parliamentary Republic signals the rebirth of Barbadian organizations, and the continuation of the rebuilding of our country.
It has been a wonderful thing to join Barbadian associations at their various events in person after two years. I continue to salute these important assets in the diaspora, which give Barbados a necessary presence in the various States and communities in which they operate and continue to build consequential links to the ultimate benefit of our nation.
The importance of our associations, never in doubt, was reinforced during the pandemic. Barbados remains grateful to our organizations, individuals and other agencies who contributed unhesitatingly and significantly to our country in the past two years when we most needed assistance.
We will pick up the pace from before and continue to work together to expand the influence of Barbados in the various 11 States under the jurisdiction of the Consulate General, deepen our connections as we build new ones, secure necessary support for our people and celebrate our culture and citizens.
Our unique Barbadianess has made our citizens some of the most accomplished in the world. It has also been a great pleasure to watch the continued progression of our people. This year, among others, we celebrated the elevation of Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix as Corporation Consul of New York City and, of course, Rihanna continues to rewrite history books. This year, our National Hero became a self-made billionaire. What a magnificent personal achievement and triumph for the capacity of our nationals.
Even so, it has been a tough time for our country, as with all nations. The ongoing war in Ukraine, seemingly worsening existential threats from climate change and apparent growing inequities in a world of plenty, add to the challenges of recouping from the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Barbados is rebounding and repositioning to build back better. Back on a growth path, the country recorded its sixth consecutive quarter of growth and 10.1 per cent for the first nine months of the year. Notably, tourism prospects are encouraging, in particular, cruise arrivals, expected to reach 700 000, on par with pre-pandemic levels.
Exciting capital investments in this area are beginning to manifest. By January, the new Sam Lord’s Castle will be open. At 420 rooms and employing up to 1000 persons, it will be Barbados’ biggest hotel. There are many other very encouraging developments across the board. Barbados hosted the first African-Caribbean summit. University of the West Indies graduations at Cave Hill are back to record numbers. The first menopause clinic in the Caribbean has been established in the island. In addition, the individual excellence of Barbadians continues to shine through in the feats such as the creation of Katspraddle vodka by Raymond Thompson, young racing driver Zane Maloney, several jockeys in Canada and the USA and our first medalist at the World Athletics championship, Sada Williams.
In all of this, Barbados is in transition, a necessary but tough process for future survival often not fully understood. The inspiring appearances of Prime Minister Mia Mottley on the world stage, speaking about climate change and funding equity, are as important to repositioning Barbados to secure a place in the world as the deliberate outreach to African countries, the moves to alternative energy and the regrouping around agriculture at home. Transitioning takes time but already the evolving process is bearing fruit. The first Fintech Islands Conference has opened up possibilities. There have been important business developments between private sector entities in Barbados, Ghana and Sierra Leone. Afriximbank is set to establish a hub in Barbados and a transformative agreement with Rwanda to have large-scale pharmaceutical manufacturing in Barbados was just signed.
Equally consequential, Barbados and Guyana have signed a wide-ranging agreement towards food security. Elements of this are already in train.
As has been the case throughout our history, our people will be at the heart of this transition process and will drive it. Wherever we are, we are all Barbadians and, together, we will build a brighter future, as we have built a worthy past, in the words of our National Anthem, “in strength and unity”.
So let us celebrate the many successes of our small but powerful country on the 56th anniversary of Independence and First anniversary as a Republic.
Happy celebrations! May God continue to bless Barbados and bless us all!