Barbados! Fifty Years of Independence

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Barbados is the Gem of the Caribbean Sea! Well that is what various people and a few songs say. This year, Barbados and Barbadians from all around the world have the opportunity to celebrate fifty years of Independence from physical colonial rule. I say physical because many of must be aware by now that Barbados, like any other West Indian, Caribbean, non-North American, developing or post-colonial State, is controlled by external forces, powers and economic circumstances apparently far beyond its reach. Put aside the futility that is seemingly our reality alright? It is time to celebrate!

We have sun, we have sea, we have, oh yes we have sand: lots of sand. Fifty years of Independence and all that comes with such a time. Fifty years of gloriously filthy politics where in an island number fewer than three hundred thousand people we pit one section against another in political parties. For what? Apparently instead of making our futures brighter together our time is better spent squabbling over a land much larger than few other island territories and smaller than many many many other territories (not just countries) in the world. One other thing! We have sex but hush hush we are too hypocritical to admit what tourism largely entails.

There is no need to worry and every reason to rejoice for Barbados is the land of Calyp … well no that is Trinidad and Tobago or at least they lay the strongest claim. Maybe we are the land of Reggae and Dub? Well no that is Jamaica. We cannot even claim Reggaeton. Leave that alone. It belongs to Latin America a la Jamaica of course. No, no, no. I am not trying to put Barbados down at all. Of course not. We are the land that invented rum but let us leave that alone. If I get into that now I may have no idea when I would stop. We have Spouge. A music, a beat, a language we all but abandoned as we did its pioneer and our fellow Barbadian Mr. Jackie Opel. Surely, we will hear a bit of Spouge now that we are celebrating the big Five Zero.

Five-Nought! Yes, for fifty years are but a speck in the eye of so many others humans have existed but let us celebrate being adults now. Let us also celebrate all of the people who put us in this position save those who do not or did not belong to your ideological camp, was or is not the skin colour you prefer or whose ideas were just oh so far out there that you consider that person a downright fool. Yes. Celebrate. 

Poverty abounds and surely women, hard-working and industrious as they are must be feeling the pressures more than ever now. In this matrifocal society women head most households (let us not fool ourselves by thinking otherwise) yet we have men beating women at so many turns. Of course we cannot blame women for this predicament. We must blame the absent fathers and everybody else not in the child’s life. Curse me, hate me even for saying this but who raises a child matters less than how that child is raised. Children need love more than homes with nuclear families. I have always found the term nuclear family quite amusing. Sounds to me like something will explode. You know what? Blame no one. Responsibility need not be taken at all. Let us burry our heads in our glorious independent sand and wish reality away, away, away. 

Listen, I am not bashing women. Not at all. Another term I find amusing is testicular fortitude. The testicles, balls, nuts, whatever you want to call them are so fragile that such a term should be an oxymoron. Vaginal fortitude is the strength worthy of such acclaim. It should be obvious why but apparently not since that foolish term about male genitalia is still in vogue. With all of the women ever born to claim Barbados as home and only one female national hero? Alright. Whatever you say.

Who are you by the way? Who are the people who decide what, where, why, with whom and how things happen? Fifty years of Independence and not only must we still have to struggle against external forces (that is is only natural since there greedy humans abound) we must also deal with home grown oppressors using the rule of law to bind us. We must also deal with their supports hiding in the bushes intellectually and otherwise masterbating to the thoughts and wishes of their appointed leaders. What a waste of a people and opportunity.

Let us end this on a good note. We, Barbadians, have accomplished much in these fifty years. We have accomplished so much we can forget everything that ever happened before Independence. We are a proud people. We will be the best. Pride and Industry are our watchwords.  Hollow words now. The words our “leaders” often feed us like rotten porridge. We are too accustomed to drinking hollow words. Hollow words are all we have and all we will ever have until we fill them with action.

When Will People Take Control of Their Lives?

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In democratic societies, especially the liberal kinds, the electorate is often faced with the challenge of weeding out, from among those who offer themselves for public service, those who ‘know’ and those who think they ‘know’ but in reality do not. It is a peculiar case for any people to have to carry out such an action because it means we have to think. Each eligible person and even those under the age of voting, to a lesser extent, must peruse their minds about what they want to see become of their country, whose message resonates with how he or she feels and who is the person most likely to make this happen. Unfortunately, thinking or maybe I should say critical thinking is quite lacking among the general populace. Even those who think they think critically do not.

Ever so often, about every four to five years, the Caribbean people in particular are faced with a melancholy. They must elect without knowing the candidates. Arguably, aside from politicians in very authoritarian democracies and dictatorships, Caribbean politicians enjoy a large cushion of protection from scrutiny. I should say here that when I say Caribbean I really mean primarily those in the West Indies. Yes, that place which like most other post-colonial regions adapted the British West Minster System into ‘models’ to ‘suit’ the New World Environment.

When one really thinks about the whole situation, there is little surprise coming to mind as to why the people do not really know the policies of those they elected and those who want to be elected. The ‘models’ we have, we, as a collective, did not make. We trusted our pioneers and founding fathers to make certain decisions such as the construction of our Constitutions which dictate almost every facet of our living instead of taking a stake in the pie. Yes, one may argue that West Indian Constitutions are Acts of the British Parliament and not even our leaders of the time really had a say. Yes, we may also argue that the ‘we’ about which I speak really means our foreparents so today’s people are not to blame for what we experience presently. Surely, we know all of that to be erroneous.

We are the ones living today and every day we let pass without engaging the very nucleic forces of our society is another strike taken off of the ‘we’ of the past to be marked against the ‘we’ of today. The politicians need not go beyond a manifesto to debate because we have hardly ever challenged them to do it. Think about it. If it is that those who sell goods and services usually provide a certain quantity and quality commensurate with market they serve then would not it be reasonable to assume that our leaders (trade union leaders, parliamentary members, clergy, teachers, government administrators) would respond to our demands since we are the market and the only market to which they can ply their trade? Normally markets are held captive but geography and nationality hold our suppliers captive; making us their masters and them our servant-leaders. 

With this small argument in mind, hopefully you recognize that it is within your rights to demand from those you employ the deliverance of what you want. It is also your right to do and say nothing to affect this occurrence. However, if you neglect your duty, even though you may benefit from the actions of those who demand what they want, in the long-run you, mostly likely, will also be neglected. 

2014 Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International

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Transparency International, the non-governmental organization taking on the task of monitoring and publicizing both corporate and political corruption in the international world, yearly publishes an index of the perceived level of corruption by country. We acknowledge that efforts like this are vital to regulating and improving the global political economy; especially in an era riddled with recession and corporate infiltration of the political process. The people of the world, indeed, must be aware of the extent to which their country is said to be in good standing.

However, we advise you to keep in mind that in order to measure corruption, the agency undertaking the task must set its own definitions and parameters as context. It is within this context that our countries are measured. This means that our own countries whether ranked in a positive or negative light are actually held to the standard of the surveying institution and not our own.

It is important, therefore, to know the methodology employed found below:

Corruption Perceptions Index 2014: Short Methodology Note

The Corruption Perceptions Index aggregates data from a number of different sources that provide perceptions of business people and country experts of the level of corruption in the public sector.

The following steps are followed to calculate the [Corruption Perception Index] CPI:

  1. Select data sources: Each data source that is used to construct the Corruption Perceptions Index must fulfil the following criteria to qualify as a valid source:
    •   Quantifies perceptions of corruption in the public sector
    •   Be based on a reliable and valid methodology, which scores and ranksmultiple countries on the same scale
    •   Performed by a credible institution and expected to be repeated regularly
    •   Allow for sufficient variation of scores to distinguish between countriesThe CPI 2014 is calculated using 12 different data sources from 11 different institutions that capture perceptions of corruption within the past two years. These sources are described in detail in the accompanying source description document.
  2. Standardise data sources to a scale of 0-100 where a 0 equals the highest level of perceived corruption and 100 equals the lowest level of perceived corruption. This is done by subtracting the mean of the data set and dividing by the standard deviation and results in z-scores, which are then adjusted to have a mean of approximately 45 and a standard deviation of approximately 20 so that the data set fits the CPI’s 0-100 scale. The mean and standard deviation are taken from the 2012 scores, so that the rescaled scores can be compared over time against the baseline year.
  3. Calculate the average: For a country or territory to be included in the CPI, a minimum of three sources must assess that country. A country’s CPI score is then calculated as the average of all standardised scores available for that country. Scores are rounded to whole numbers.
  4. Report a measure of uncertainty: The CPI is accompanied by a standard error and confidence interval associated with the score, which capture the variation in scores of the data sources available for that country/territory.

Lastly, take note that this information is only a measure of the perceived corruption of a country. This index does not give you a measure of the actual corruption levels of a country. They may vary.

Here are Transparency International’s infographics:

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