Thursday, April 25, 2024

EDITORIAL: Make Barrow’s story relevant


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TODAY’S CELEBRATION OF Errol Barrow Day in honour of the National Hero and late Prime Minister remains an important holiday on the national calendar. But for a growing number of Barbadians it may be losing its significance.

As someone who held high office, Barrow was a rather simple individual who avoided many of the trappings of his position. As a country we have honoured his memory in a dignified manner – a statue in his memory, his image on our $50 note and a building at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies carrying his name.

There remains a strong connection for many senior Barbadians with the Barrow era since they can relate to the legend, what he meant and achieved – from the introduction of universal free secondary education to free school meals, leading the country into independence to instituting social security legislation, amongst other things. 

He will also be appreciated for gracefully walking way after his party had been rejected by the people at the polls, something many post-colonial leaders in developing countries found difficult to do at that time in the mid-70s.

It was evident he cherished certain democratic principles and the respect for good governance. No one can deny that it was his vision and selfless actions which positively and significantly led to many advancements in this island. 

Barrow worked in the interest of Barbados and for all Barbadians. Little wonder his name is synonymous with Barbados.

Barrow’s death 30 years ago this year puts him as a mere historical figure for that segment of the population which will become increasingly detached from him despite the endearment many still have for him to this day. For the Democratic Labour Party, of which he was a founding member, its leader for many years and still an icon, their respect and celebrations are understandable. But the way we honour this national hero must not be limited to the acolytes of George Street.

It is the telling of the story of Barrow which remains important if the day is to have relevance 50 years from today.

This is why the events saluting the life and times of this outstanding patriot must transcend partisan party politics and resonate with all Barbadians.

It is a pity that the state has not seen it fit, either on its own or in collaboration with the University or the Barbados Museum & Historical Society, to have established a library where exhibits of Barrow, and indeed all other National Heroes and Prime Ministers can be on permanent display, allowing for a connection with the public. 

It is important that Barrow, and all other heroes, transcend political lines, which is why the celebrations this weekend should be at a national level.

This is particularly relevant going forward if the day is to survive, especially when the Dems are not in office.


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