When we watched television from outside someone’s window
Addressing Barbadians at a gala in Toronto on Saturday to mark Barbados’ 50th anniversary of Independence, Haynesley L. Benn, Consul General of Barbados in Toronto, recalled the time when the Union Jack was lowered for the last time in his native country. It was a time when few people had telephones and there were no computers. He also spoke of the time not long after independence, when many left Barbados in search of ” a better way of life” for themselves and their families. The following is an excerpt from his address at the gala:
By Haynesley L. Benn
I believe that many of you can still remember the occasion 50 years ago on the 30th November 1966, when thousands of Barbadians braved the heavy rains and wet conditions at the Garrison Savannah to be part of a moment in History – the lowering of the Union Jack for the last time, and the raising of the Broken Trident for the first time. Most of you were quite young then. I am not sure that as young men and women at the time, we fully grasped the full meaning of sovereignty, nor the tremendous responsibility which Independence brought to a Nation and its people.
Not long after that, many of you left Barbados in search of a better way of life for yourselves and your families. Some left over 20, 30, perhaps 40, even 50 years ago. You have done well. You have made your country proud. Before you left Barbados, only the rich and “well to do” owned motor cars. Very few people had telephones in their homes. We watched our favorite TV programs – Bonanza, Have gun will travel, 77 Sunset strip, Route 66, Dr. Kildare, to mention a few. We watched from outside someone’s window. There were no computers.
l lived in St. Peter and the only time I boarded a bus was when the church had its annual bus excursion every August. There were no fast foods. Everyone cooked. The young girls learned to cook and bake at an early age. It was a must for us to go to church and Sunday school. The Pastor, the Reverend, the school teacher, the elderly, these were all respected in the district. But things have changed. Nowadays if you see a priest walking through the district, you wonder what he’s up to.
I came to Canada in August 2013 and it didn’t take long for me to recognize the positive habits and values that have been traditionally associated with Barbados, among which are respect for each other, respect for the rule of law, thrift in the management of your finances, a thirst for education and self- advancement, a sense of decency, love for family and the acknowledgement that the spiritual guidance of God is necessary to confront the challenges of everyday life. As a country, Barbados has had its share of challenges. Barbadians have, however, refused to cringe in fear or retreat in hopelessness. The Lord has truly been our guide for the past 50 years and more.
Barbadians in Canada and throughout the world should associate themselves with the Barbados Flag with its Gold and Ultramarine colors and Black Broken Trident, and what these elements represent in the Flag. All Barbadians abroad should be a living representation of the Barbadian Motto of Pride and Industry, reflected in the Coat of Arms with our National flower “The Pride of Barbados”. All Barbadians abroad are called upon to live the National Pledge, “l pledge allegiance to my country Barbados and to my flag, to uphold and defend their Honor, and by my living to do credit to my Nation wherever I go”. Happy 50th Anniversary, Barbados.