Barbados honours its heroes

Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart  in Toronto
Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart in Toronto

As Barbados marks the 50th anniversary of its independence this year, its heroes are being honoured.

Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart spoke of several of them on Saturday in his keynote address at the ninth annual Errol Barrow Memorial dinner at the Markham Convention Centre in  Toronto.

He noted  that 2016  is an important year for Barbados  not just because of ” our golden jubilee”  of independence but because  of other historical events of relevance to the country.

He said that in April this year Barbados celebrated the 200th anniversary of the slave rebellion in the parish of St. Philip called the Bussa rebellion

Bussa, an African slave, led  a rebellion in 1816 to” to try and overturn the system of slavery in Barbados.”

“It didn’t succeed then and he was executed.” said Prime Minister Stuart.

But he noted that at a re-enactment of the event brought alive the consciousness of Barbadians that long before  political independence in 1966, ” people like Bussa ” tried to get us free.”

The Barbadian  prime minister also had high praise for the late Errol Barrow, the founder of the Democratic Labour Party  who led Barbados to Independence from Britain and became the country’s first prime minister.

And he  paid tribute to  the late trade unionist Frank Walcott  who would have been one hundred years old this year. To mark the occasion sections of the trade union movement in Barbados recently got together in ” one grand show of gratitude and celebration.”

” The democracy we enjoy in Barbados today and the stability we enjoy could not have been secured without the contributions of the labour movement of Barbados,” he said.

The prime minister also reminded his audience of  the recent celebrations of  the 80th birthday of  Sir Garfield Sobers, ” our only surviving national hero.”

He recalled that in the summer of 1966  Gary Sobers led the West Indies cricket team to  England in “an unprecedented performance. ”

” And we drew considerable inspiration from what happened in the summer of 1966,” he said.

Prime Minister Stuart also made special mention of the late  Dame Nita Barrow,  the first female Governor-General of Barbados who would have been a hundred years old this year.

He described her as a “renowned and distinguished nurse ” who paid particular attention to the nursing profession and the contribution that profession has made to the development of Barbados.

The prime minister told  his audience that Prince Harry will be representing Queen Elizabeth  at   Independence celebrations in Barbados come November.

And Rihanna (Robyn Rihanna Fenty) will be at the celebrations, he said.