By Inigo “Naughty” Zenicazelaya
THIS week, something abnormally fantastic happened. The decision was made to ‘fire’ the Queen (sorry, Elizabeth R), decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, and move forward as an island nation that can stand on its own legs.
Before you get too excited, none of this happened here. Instead, it was our Caribbean neighbour Barbados that got tongues wagging and Twitter twittering with its bold moves.
When news broke of all these plans Barbados put into the ether, I couldn’t help but think of that famous meme: This could be us...but Bahamians joking.
The Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, ascended to power in Barbados in 2018 with a super majority. Her party won 30 out of 30 seats up for grabs and 70% of the popular vote. Around here, that’s what we call “a good cut hip” for those running against the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
No doubt any government that finds itself with a supermajority in parliament finds itself with not only a clear mandate but the weapon it needs to see its goals through. Unfortunately (as we Bahamians know all too well) not every supermajority means the people will actually benefit from it.
But – bless their Bajan hearts – it looks like Barbadians may actually win for reposing so much faith in Mottley’s crew.
On Bay Street (theirs, not ours), where their government headquarters is located, their Governor General, Dame Sandra Mason, ironically used the country’s ‘Speech from the Throne’ to let it be known they are soon doing away with speeches from ‘The Throne.’
Barbados will become a republic by next year, she said. To quote their First Prime Minster, Errol Walton Barrow, Barbados will no longer “loiter on colonial premises.”
And so it goes, the country (and our neighbour) which is only a wee 7 years older than The Bahamas in terms of age since Independence, will accomplish something we have not even seriously begun to consider.
But wait, there’s more!
It seems Barbados will not only become a republic but will also decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession by its citizens, taking a decisive stand on an issue we in this country have not even seriously begun to debate.
Barbados will also make provisions for a referendum on same-sex marriage (though there is doubt it will pass), an issue and decision I can confidently say is decades upon decades away for Bahamians.
What is clear, though, is that Mia Mottley is making the most of her time in leadership.
While the Amazon, Australia and California were on fire, and as climate change continued to threaten small island nations, Mottley formulated her plan. Her idea was to drop a natural disaster clause into sovereign debt contracts. The long and short of it is that should a natural disaster occur, the country would have breathing room to service their debts.
In October of last year, while we were literally picking up our shattered pieces from Hurricane Dorian, Mia Mottley and her supermajority government got their creditors to accept those clauses.
Now I know it’s never a good idea to compare yourself with others, but it’s hard to resist. So, just to see if there’s anyway to have even rhetorical bragging rights against Bajans, I had a peek at their COVID-19 response.
According to the latest information, Barbados, a country with a population of around 290 thousand, has recorded 185 cases with 171 recovered and 7 deaths.
So they’ve got us beat there too.
Although we have been busted for ‘sorta copying’ off Barbados with the suggestions made by our economic recovery committee, it’s been quiet here as far as our politicians go with all this ‘big’ news coming out of that island.
Can a country enamored with pomp and circumstance, white wigs and ‘royal traditions’ even begin to contemplate full self-determination?
The only politician who has gone on the record congratulating Barbados (as far as I know) has been the leader of the Democratic National Alliance, Arinthia Komolafe.
Not only did Mrs. Komolafe express support for Mia Mottley’s move to become a republic, she also spoke of “progressive minded leadership in the Caribbean” and highlighted reasons why she too envisions a republic government one day for this country.
Honestly, listening to Komolafe lay out her plans had me thinking about what life would be like for us with ‘natural disaster clauses’ or ‘marijuana decriminalization’ or even just a government that made plans and followed through.
But the truth is we are currently stuck in a two-party system which basically means we are just stuck.
We are on a merry-go-round, and most people are scared to jump off.
I wish I knew what to tell you. Maybe I’ll find the right words soon. For now, all I can say is, “That coulda been us, but ‘y’all joking!”