Today’s Barbados Advocate Editorial addresses feedback from some Barbadians that they will not be participating in the 50th Independence celebrations – Barbados Underground
One of the incidents of the democratic system of governance is that decisions touching on matters of state are rarely unanimous. So it is quite unsurprising that more than a few Barbadians, for various reasons, have publicly declared their intentions not to participate in the national celebrations planned for the fiftieth anniversary of our Independence that will be attained on November 30. To these naysayers or “rabat-joies” as the French would have it, we say that we respect your decision and concede that it is your democratic right not to participate. We shall treat you nevertheless as fellow citizens, but we implore that you do nothing to hinder the celebrations of those who find the attainment of this milestone to be just cause for celebration.
This sentiment is not new. In Shakespeare’s history, King Henry V, the king is faced with some of his men who are unwilling to fight at the Battle of Agincourt. The king does not have them shot as he might have done, but rather allows them to leave the scene. He suggests subtly however that these abstainers will be henceforth unable to experience the pride of victory felt by the participants in future-
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart. His passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse.
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day and comes safe home,
Will stand o’ tiptoe when the day is named
And rouse him at the name of Crispian…
Most of the reasons for abstention publicly aired so far appear to be founded in the current state of affairs in the country. Permit us too, dear reader, to express our disgruntlement at the fact that not every citizen enjoys a frequent supply of potable water or water for sanitation purposes in his or her home and we were as alarmed as others at the unhygienic state of the country a few weeks ago before officialdom made a concerted effort to remove the unsightly piles of garbage and other household waste.
We are of the view, nonetheless, that the celebration of a milestone is not conditional upon the achievement of utopia as many of us would have accepted in the celebration of our popular milestone personal anniversaries.
At the risk of being accused of taking in the washing of others for our subsistence, we are compelled to comment on a column in another section of the press that has been drawn to our attention. There, the writer, in sarcastic tones, asserts that she would “dance in the streets if there was a freeze on taxes, especially with annoying names…” We would too, (indeed who wouldn’t?), but here we are referring to a nation that has managed to provide taxpayer-funded education (to tertiary level and beyond) and public health services for most of the fifty years of its sovereignty and yet we quibble about the appropriateness of the names of these civic contributions.
The greatest bone of contention in the entire affair seems to be the cost of the celebration. Officially, it is reputed to be seven million dollars, a paltry sum for a celebration of this nature, which equates to a mere $28 or less per Barbadian citizen. Of course, the dissenters contest the veracity of this figure, but even a trifling gift of $100 (less than the entrance fee for some all-inclusive parties during Crop-Over), by each citizen to the nation that we are so proud at convenient times to call our own would raise the princely sum of $25 million…at least!