“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” – Proverbs 29:18
Over the past week we reflected on and celebrated the achievements of Barbados over the first forty years as an Independent Nation. We were treated to a captivating play “The Redemption of Sister Dinah” put on by The University of the West Indies in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture. The play, written by Professor Hilary Beckles and directed by Mr Harclyde Walcott, depicted the Rt. Excellence Errol Barrow and the struggle for Independence in Barbados in 1966.
On the morning of Independence Day at the Garrison Savannah, hundreds of uniformed armed and unarmed troops ceremonially marched pass the Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands on the same spot where Errol Barrow declared this 166 square-mile island free from colonial rule back in 1966. On the afternoon of Independence Day there was the annual Awards ceremony at Government House where many Barbadians were recognised for their contribution to the development of the Nation. It was a grand occasion for those who were privileged to attend and, indeed, a television spectacle.
A three part radio series entitled “Management in Barbados – Seeing the Red Flags” was aired by the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. I was privileged to contribute to the third part which focused on solutions to avoiding the danger signalled by the red flags. My focus was on the importance of Governance and Leadership. My concluding comment was that leadership training is best achieved through a mentorship programme where experienced leaders from at home or abroad work alongside public and private sector leaders to inject new thinking into the enterprise.
The most intellectually stimulating of all the experiences over the last week was the 31st Sir Winston Scott Memorial Lecture by an Outstanding Barbadian Dr. Carlisle Boyce. He is the Executive Director, Industrial and Transportation Business of 3M Asia Pacific (APAC), based in Singapore, and has so distinguished himself at management level that he was appointed to the 3M Executive Conference, the exclusive and prestigious collection of the company’s top 100 executives whose attainments represent the production for the company of US$1.5 billion.
His topic was “Asia Pacific as an Emerging Economic Powerhouse: Implications for Barbados and the Caribbean Region”. With the advent of the Barbados International Business Promotion Corporation (BIBPC) and as Barbados seeks to expand its markets and attract new investment flows, it was very appropriate to have someone of the international experience of Dr. Boyce speak to us. Dr Boyce delivered well, filled our hearts with joy and comprehensively introduced us to the numerous new business opportunities offered by the APAC region, which comprises two-thirds of the world’s population and one-half of the world’s GDP. This experience was a manifestation of the first stanza in our National Anthem: “In plenty and in time of need, When this fair land was young; Our brave forefathers sowed the seed, From which our pride is sprung;
A pride that makes no wanton boast, Of what it has withstood; That binds our hearts from coast to coast – The pride of nationhood”.
A couple of messages over an email group emerged after the lecture, extracts from which I would like to share. Carl Moore observed “So while many people in the Frank Collymore Hall audience were salivating about the growth of the APAC countries, I wasn’tâ€¦.Don’t get me wrong. The purpose of life is to be happy. We need certain things to get us there, but even here in Barbados, we see the younger generation concentrating solely on acquiring material things. There’s more to it than that. But then, I might be a naive, old fogey, romanticising the past, on my way out.
It is my view that ultimately we human beings are going to either consume ourselves off the face of this planet, or exterminate ourselves with our weapons, leaving the place to the cockroach and the termite. They will inherit the earth after we, like the dinosaurs millions of years earlier, have left it”
Carl’s observation attracted support from “Eddie” Akhentoolove Corbin: “Seems like the measure of our success in Barbados today is what material possessions we acquire (GDP; condominiums etc.) and not so much the condition of our inner being… our spiritual wealth manifested as love, giving, sharing, caring, humility, tolerance, selflessness, honesty, appreciation of diversity, kindness…The values that build strong societies like Carl is suggesting are more linked to ‘what we live’ and not so much ‘what we say’.”
I continually preach Holistic sustainable Development and hence can empathise with these views. However, I am also of the opinion that in the world we live in today, even though not sufficient, economic development is the important necessary underpinning for sustained socio-economic well being. We cannot afford to put in on the back burner.
We would do well to march forward with the vision from resources like Dr Boyce.
Now to a challenge for the Central Bank. We now have 31 lecturers in this series. How has Barbados benefited in the past 31 years from the words of wisdom espoused? How about a research project to review these lectures and make recommendations to the nation? If we keep the law, happiness will abound.