Tuesday, April 16, 2024

JEFF BROOMES: Let’s enjoy our island’s big 50


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THIS IS NOVEMBER, our month of independence, and the celebration has begun. This is special, because it is golden; it’s our 50th anniversary. Unfortunately, there has been some agendarised gobbledygook about our country having nothing to celebrate. Bah, humbug!

November 3, 1966 is significant to me for two reasons. It was the day on which my youngest brother was born, but more important, it was the day on which the elections to decide who would lead Barbados into independence was held. That began a journey of good leadership.

The major responsible leadership that this country has had over the past 50 years give us much to celebrate. We should be proud that both political parties and the seven prime ministers have kept us safe, comfortable and peaceful with constant improvement.

When I recall this country before independence and make comparisons to what we have now relative to our infrastructure, it’s like chalk and cheese. This country has made immense strides. Our productivity and our dedicated hard work have taken us there. 

One just has to listen to the exclamations from persons who are returning home after a long absence to understand. The buildings are better, the lighting makes us safer and the road network is as good as can be found anywhere in the world. Daily, I marvel with pride!

The quality of a nation, to me, is defined by its treatment of its young, its seniors and its underprivileged. The caring and all-encompassing social support programmes to ensure the comfort and progress of these groups make us second to none. Let’s celebrate!

Education has been our nation’s flagship of exceptionalism. It was the focus of great leaders who saw it as the vehicle to take us wherever we wanted to go, and they were correct. I am thankful for the benefits, opportunities and interactions it has given me. I am grateful.

Barbados probably has more schools per capita than any other country in the Caribbean, and there is a reason. We have guaranteed our people a good education from primary through tertiary. Even with the recent 20 per cent payment requirement at tertiary we still provide better than any other in our region. We should be proud and count our blessings.

For those naysayers who say they have nothing to celebrate in this our 50th year of independence, I say to them to remember Gary Sobers, Malcolm Marshall, Obadele Thompson, Ryan Brathwaite, Suki King, Patrick Husbands, Victor “Gas” Clarke, Chelsea Tuach, Michael Stoute and a plethora of others who have given us pleasure. I truly celebrate these bajans!

Over the past 50 years, our cultural advancement has been nothing but phenomenal. We have landed like a colossus on the world stage and beam with pride for Rihanna, Shontelle, Emile Straker Mighty Gabby, RPB, Kamau Brathwaite, George Lamming and Jackie Opel. Thanks for the moments that will never leave me.

On a personal note, it’s in an independent Barbados that my life was taken to the mountain top by family and friends. I celebrate the fact that a beautiful young Alexandra girl accepted an invitation of marriage from me and has allowed me to enjoy a wonderful life and a happy home with a terrific daughter and a heart-pumping granddaughter.

The safe environment and comfort that Barbados has given me has also allowed for the touchingly enjoyable moments with very good and caring friends by actual name or sobriquet.

I celebrate the times with Raphael, Foffie, Blackie, Sprite, Harps, Brazilian, West, Colleague, Task and many more. You have positively impacted my life, and I now say: “Thanks a million, Barbados and happy 50th anniversary of independence.” We do have a lot to celebrate!

Jeff Broomes is an experienced educator, principal and community organiser who also served as vice-president of the BCA and director of the WICB. Email: unclejeff2@hotmail.com


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