Transitioning – A Fresh Start

Transitioning – A Fresh Start

By Hon. Mackie Holder

Fellow Barbadians and Friends of Barbados: A necessary historic moment will illuminate the milestone and celebration of our nation’s 55th anniversary of Independence.

This year, at a minute past midnight on 30 November, Barbados becomes a Republic. This next step in our nationhood, which began in 1950 with the right of Barbadians to vote under Barbados’ first native leader, National Hero the Rt. Excellent Sir Grantley Adams — Father of our Nation — will remove the last vestiges of British official traditions that were left intact after Independence.

While, practically, the decision to become a republic will not fundamentally change Barbados or any of the treasured aspects of our country, the symbolism, in the midst of the ongoing Covid19 pandemic, underscores and reinforces that Barbados is the small country than can.

This has been evident since the late 1930s when the journey to self-determination began out of the 1937 Riots, leading to the formation of the first political party, the Barbados Labor Party, (BLP); the establishment of the first workers’ organization, the Barbados Workers Union, (BWI), both of which remain functioning institutions; adult suffrage; Independence, under National Hero the Rt. Excellent Errol Barrow; and, throughout the decades, the development of a highly regarded nation marked by the strength of its leadership, education and health foundation, sound economic management, and resilience of its people.

When President Sandra Mason swears a new oath, it will not be to the Queen and her heirs, but to Barbados; and this will complete a process of Barbados independent journey that has included the establishment of the National Cultural Foundation, (NCF), to foster Barbados heritage and talents; the instituting of National Heroes and erection of statues; and the acceptance of the Caribbean Court of Justice — all benchmarks on our passage to self-determination that inspire and flavor the essence of our collective psyche that make our people unique — Barbadian.

But there is more to Barbados becoming a Republic than just a change of Governor-General to President, the Royal Barbados Police Force to the Barbados Police Service, and the like. Just as the right to vote and Independence heralded new eras of change for Barbados, so, too, will the move to being a Republic.

Be in no doubt that Barbados’ system of Government will remain unchanged, and the principles that have laid the foundation for our remarkable progress thus far will remain intact. But the world, and the juncture we are at on our progression, informs that as we transition, Barbados has to bring freshness to important aspects of our country. If there was any doubt, the Covid-19 pandemic demolished it.

Indeed, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, herself a historic pointer in our journey, has, from the outset, even before assuming the office as the first female leader of our country, sought to pivot with enhancements such as a new governance model with more transparency, proclaimed in the BLP’s Covenant of Hope.

Since becoming Barbados leader in 2018, that refinement has included a push in the digital sphere and creating new opportunities for younger people in worldwide growth areas of the metaverse; renewed engagement on the Caribbean front through CARICOM and a crusading approach to international engagement that, in a no-nonsense approach mandated by the stark reality of surviving, constantly calls to the court of humanity leaders of the world.

The freshness of Mottley’s approach in calling out the unnecessary inequities that are condemning much of the world to pain and suffering – vaccine discrimination, the need for resilient funding, climate change – has resonated worldwide, generating renewed pride and energy among Barbadian and Caribbean people. Other aspects of the transitioning include moving Government to digitization; building out Wi-Fi connectivity; a comprehensive repositioning of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an ongoing project that includes the establishment of new missions in Ghana, Kenya, the UAE and Panama and the establishment of the first metaverse embassy as well as increased engagement with the Diaspora.

The Diaspora has always been an important aspect of Barbados’ development. The past year has once more highlighted their important contributions to the economic and social development of our country, with their support of numerous initiatives. None has been as praiseworthy as the mission to Barbados of nurses out of NY to assist in the fight against Covid-19.

The Government and people of Barbados will always be grateful for their commitment to country. In a sense, the mission, in response to a direct call from the Prime Minister, succinctly encapsulates all that reflects Barbados and is inherent in the transition to a Republic: rallying around country, unity of purpose, devotion to country, self-help and a practical approach to issues.

All of these have defined our country through the years and the transition to a Republic will further instill them in all Barbadians as we expand our worldview while holding fast to all that has brought us safely thus far. And in the same way, Independence inspired a generation to new heights of pride and industry; the transition to a Republic, with a Barbados stripped of all aspects of colonialism, should inspire all to build on the wonderful legacy of achievement of our country.

In the spirit of celebration of another turning point reached in the Barbados journey, that I wish fellow Barbadians a memorable 55th Anniversary of Independence and God’s continued blessings.

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