By Francine Buchner
Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart, reminded guests at the 9th Annual Charity Ball, which highlighted the theme, Feel the Spirit of Crop Over.
“I hope you will give thought to the history and cultural significance of this event - the central importance of sugar to our past and the role the sugarcane crop played in our society,” said Stuart last Saturday at the Toronto Congress Center.
Crop Over in Barbados is a summer-long festival (June 30 - August 6) and is a spectacle of music, masquerade, culture and history.
The festival begins with the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes and the crowning of the King and Queen - symbolising the most productive male and female sugarcane cutters of that season - during the times of Black people’s enslavement, before their Emancipation in 1834.
The prime minister explained that sugar and tourism is still the main source of foreign exchange for Barbados. Stuart thanked Canadians for continuing to choose Barbados as their vacation destination and thus strengthening the Barbadian tourism market.
He stressed the importance of fully integrating the Barbadian Diaspora - an additional population of 120,000 to the islands 300,000 into the country’s national planning.
“As I looked around and saw the attendance here, I marvel at the fact that we still have people in Barbados,” said Stuart. The Prime Minister also stressed the involvement of the Diasporas youth, inviting them to come back to their country of heritage.
“We look forward to welcoming Barbadian youth living in Canada to attend the conference.
In August, Barbados will host its second Network Conference whereby the Diaspora and those living in Barbados get together to discuss how the Diaspora can contribute to their homeland and learn out about investment opportunities.
This year the focus will be on the youth and how the Diaspora can play a role in their development.
“We’ve been holding our own in these challenging times,” said Stuart about enduring the last two years of the world’s economic crisis.
“We did not obtain present levels of social development by accident. We did so by a clear vision, careful planning, careful use of limited resources and sensible implementation of our programmes,” said the Prime Minister.
At the upcoming Rio +20 Sustainable Development Summit held in Brazil, Barbados will be championing the Barbados declaration on sustainable energy in the interest of small island development states.
The “Barbados Declaration” is calling for universal access to modern and affordable renewable energy services - switching to renewable energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
Their plan is to increase the share of renewable energy in Barbados to 29 percent of all electricity consumption by 2029.
“Mainly thanks to a unique social parch formed by representatives of the labour, the private sector and the government who recognised that no effort is too great to protect our social interest.
This social parch is now seen as a model for the remainder of the world.” Award recipient this evening was: actor/singer, Ernesto Griffith (Barbados Charity Ball Award).
Scholarship recipients were: Ashley I. Mason, Kadiejra Shantoria O’Neal, Janice Prescod, Cherise Jamila Roberts, Adriel Skeete and Jessica Rayne.