“The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'” – Matthew 25: 20-21

Last week was an inspirational week in Barbados where the Nation, forty years after Independence, reflected on the legacy of the late Rt. Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, generally acclaimed as the father of Independent Barbados.

As part of the celebration, retired President and Editor Emeritus of the Nation Publishing Company, Harold Hoyte, delivered the Errol Barrow Memorial Lecture at Frank Collymore Hall. He advised the opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP) as follows: “Tonight, I want to share my thoughts on political re-empowerment of the Barrow legacy through the DLP, which I must remind you, if indeed you need reminding, does not have a monopoly on executing Barrow’s concepts…We must never, never lose sight of the value of Barrow’s significant foundational role in the economic and social transformation of our little island into a sovereign entity of pride in ourselves. ‘Friends of all, satellites of none” – no lackey thought of that, a nation-builder did!”

He went on to say that if the DLP wants to savour the sweet taste of victory in the next general election, it will have to implant the “E-factor” into its upcoming political strategy, i.e. “E as in Errol; E as in Empowerment”. He compared the win-lose streak of the West Indies cricket team with that of the DLP’s roller-coaster performances at the polls in the last decade. In both these examples, and indeed in the case of the Barbados Labour party, which is currently responsible for the government of Barbados, the “E-factor” must be paramount. The paternal example which has been set is clear for all to see but what is all this about Empowerment?

According to an on-line dictionary, although ‘Empowerment’ is a contemporary buzzword, the word empower is not new, having arisen in the mid-17th century with the legalistic meaning “to invest with authority, authorize.”

As we continue with the economic and social transformation of our people, as we continue to focus on the eradication of poverty and move towards the achievement of happiness for all, we must empower our people, we must invest in them the authority to look after their own destiny. Many of us have been exposed to the proverb “If you give a man a fish he will eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish he will eat for a lifetime. If you teach a child to fish he may feed the world”.

The message here is to focus on the child. Get it right with the children and the future will take care of itself. At present in Barbados, the child is being neglected. For example, the mini-bus culture which has invaded the public transportation system for school children is there for all who want to see and is destroying the minds of the children. The non-zoning of schools means that children have to spend many hours in a day getting to and from school. This robs the children of many hours in a day and the resulting failure of development of his/her immediate family and community life.

On the positive side, in recent years Super Centre Ltd. and the Governor General’s agricultural summer camp have introduced agriculture to school children to the extent that several children have “taken their five talents and gained five more”. They have learned from these projects and have sold product to supermarkets and food processing plants on a weekly basis – budding entrepreneurs who may help feed the world.

ScotiaBank has a dynamic schools cricket programme where many children get discipline instilled as a foundation on which to become responsible citizens and thwart the poverty factor.

Calidad Investment and Financial Services Inc. has recently introduced the weekly gem “Calidad Financial Tips” available at www.calidad.bb. This is a segment of one of its training initiatives “Converting $ents to Capitalâ„¢” and is aimed at empowering excellence in financial management. The first two Calidad tips are (1) “It isn’t always the dollars we earn that determine our capacity to create wealth, it is more often than not the cents we save; (2) Saving Cents makes $ense. Teachers may well be advised to share these weekly wise financial tips at school.

There is a temptation to throw money at poverty and this is apparently justified by the ephemeral response of satisfaction by the recipient. It is not sustainable. Poverty is a mind-set designed to perpetuate despondency. Money alone is not the answer. However, when it is coupled with Empowerment, the synergy from the interaction between the two may imbue wisdom and understanding and can be a successful strategy for the sustainable eradication of poverty.

Each of us has been bestowed with talents, not the same and not in equal quantity, but talents nevertheless. Our leaders must inspire us so that we become empowered to discharge the responsibility to multiple these talents and gain the accolade “Well done, good and faithful servant!”