Barbados will on Wednesday November 30 join Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana in celebrating its golden jubilee as an independent nation, and the 166 square mile country started activities since January to mark the occasion. Guyana’s President, David Granger will journey to Bridgetown for the celebrations since Freundel Stuart, that country’s Prime Minister, was in Georgetown for the Guyana’s celebrations last May.
Stuart was honoured by the Guyana government when the country’s second highest award, the Order of Roraima (OR) was bestowed on him. Barbados now has its own national awards. In fact knighthoods and Dames are awarded to persons for their meritorious services. Several outstanding cricketers like Wesley Hall, Everton Weekes, Conrad Hunte and others as well as academics and even trade unionists have been knighted, and one wonders if Stuart will reciprocate by honouring the Guyanese leader.
There was a close link between Guyana and Barbados for several decades, long before independence. Errol Barrow, the man who led the country to independence was very close to Forbes Burnham in the pre-independence era, and the friendship between the two countries continues up to this day. I recall as a boy there were several Bajans who were living in the country ‒ most of them were in the hinterland engaged in agriculture. Scores of Guyanese migrated to Barbados.
Some of them are medical doctors, businessmen, lawyers and journalists, including Rickey Singh and Hubert Williams. They have contributed significantly to their adopted homes and a few were honoured by the Barbadian government, including Professor Bishundat Persaud who died a few months ago in London, and his niece Dr Shirley Hanoman. Radio personality Olga Lopes Seales lived for decades in Barbados where she eventually died.
The standard of living in Barbados is relatively high and unlike Guyana and most of the Caribbean islands it is almost crime free, and as a result a few Guyanese retired there including Sir Shridath Ramphal. Sir Fenton Ramsahoye who has toned down his legal practice also has a home there.
The 50th independence celebrations started on January 6 with the launch of ‘Barbados We Come From’ at Independence Square, and will culminate on November 30 with activities being held in Barbados and across the global diaspora. The celebrations are not only entertaining, but also multi-dimensional and educational with special emphasis on a youth audience.