Friday, April 19, 2024

‘Rally behind’ Six Men’s folk


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It is up to the rest of Barbados to defend the residents in Six Men’s, St Peter, who have been told they are squatters.

And Barbadians can only do so if they create an effective people’s movement.

This view was shared with a small gathering at the political discussion forum, the University of Independence Square, last Saturday evening by one of the principals involved, David Comissiong.

The political activist and attorney expressed shock and dismay at Minister of Housing Denis Kellman’s remarks in the media last week that the Port Ferdinand marina had rights to the land, which the residents did not as squatters.

He had strong words for Kellman, stating: “Port Ferdinand has rights. These black people who reside in Six Men’s, some of whom their families have resided there for generations, in the eyes of the minister, these black people are squatters with no rights. How dare they complain? He dismissed them as if they did not exist.

“I would like to tell the minister that all the land in Barbados has been paid for many times over by the blood, sweat and tears of the ancestors of the black people of this country. This land has been paid for through centuries of slave labour.

“It has been paid for and you dismiss black people who, their mother lived there, their grandmother lived there. Some wealthy expatriate [comes], you dismiss these people and tell them they are squatters, they have no rights.”

If the Government was going to dismiss these people, Comissiong asked who would defend or assist them.

“It has to be a people’s movement,” he said. “I am convinced that the key to the future of Barbados has to be a people’s movement, and if we bring together a people’s movement, there is a lot we can teach each other.”

Lawyer and activist Robert “Bobby” Clarke later told the crowd that the land in Six Men’s was acquired by the Government under the Barbados Labour Party, with promises to fix it for the residents, but maintained nothing was done.

One possible fix now, he suggested, was for Government to take a now vacant ten acres and create a housing development of some sort that could, if properly planned, accommodate about 100 families from the displaced areas.

The idea of a people’s movement, Comissiong had earlier contended, was not a new concept, but had been around for a long time, in the days of Marcus Garvey and also here in Barbados in the times of Charles Duncan Oneal who had brought together the workers and the Democratic League.

Modern Barbados, he stated, had been forged out of that 1937 period where the energy of the people provided the impetus for a lot of the organisations that came out of that time, and for a while, said Comissiong, these institutions worked. The problem now, he contended, was that they had become “stalemate”.

“Those institutions have declined, those institutions have become dysfunctional and Barbados has been in a state of limbo for almost a decade now. I am saying the way forward is a people’s movement.

“It is the people who can assist, insist on accountability from their government and their political leaders. It is the people, if they are mobilised and organised, who can get a nation-building agenda back in place in Barbados because one of the reasons we are in this state of limbo is that our official leadership has relinquished the nationalist or nation-building agenda.

“Our national leadership is behaving as if we are not a developing country, as if we have done it already, that there is nothing more to do. There is no sense of nationalist urgency in Barbados. There is no sense that we are building a nation. You cannot point to a single ministry and tell me what is the mission of that ministry, and if you are building a nation then you are driven by a sense of mission,” he argued.

If the people were mobilised, Comissiong stated, they would not need to wait on Government to provide an agenda, but would decide their own. (Green Bananas Media)


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