CELEBRATING FIFTY YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE – BARBADOS 1966-2016
By Dr. Keith A. P. Sandiford
Former Caribbean colonies are more fortunate than African and Asian ones in that they have completed their first 50 years of political freedom without political and military coups and without the copious shedding of human blood. On November 30, 2016, Barbados will join Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago as fifty-year old sovereign states which have thus far avoided the turmoil of revolutions. It is an achievement worthy of joyous celebration. There is a sense that the island has shown perceptible signs of regression, following the worldwide recession of 2008, but the overall all progress since 1966 has been eminently satisfactory.
The emergence of modern Barbados can be said to have begun in the 1950s with the rise of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU). These were the institutions that destroyed the political hegemony of the old plantocracy. They focussed most sharply on the plight of the non-white majority and led the movement which forced the Colonial Government to overhaul its administrative structures and reshape the electoral laws as well as its fiscal practices.
Hitherto, severe restrictions on voting rights had limited the franchise to a small minority of families and the blunt refusal of the Whites to tax themselves meant that, as late as the 1950s, the bulk of the public revenues (some 97.2%) came from customs and excise which had placed the burden of taxation quite squarely on the shoulders of those families least able to bear it.
Professor Keith Sandiford taught history at the University of Manitoba from 1966-1998, and is one of the pioneers of the historical sociology of sports and has published extensively in this field. Dr. Sandiford is considered one of the leading cricket sociologists and statisticians in the world and has written extensively on this as well as other topics, ranging from Victorian politics and diplomacy, to Barbadian culture and education. Within the university, he served two terms as Chair of the Graduate Studies Program/History; chaired the Teaching Advisory Committee (1986-93); and, was appointed the first Chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Human Rights in 1991. [Read more]