The news coming out of Codrington these past few days is certainly heartening. Seems, the folks in charge of the reconstruction effort are awakening from their slumber. Apparently, the roof on the primary school has been completed, and work is progressing, albeit slowly, on a number of critical public buildings. Why these very important matters were not addressed with some urgency is a blot on the management of the rebuilding process on the sister isle. Barbudans have been treated shabbily, and these baby steps in the right direction, so inordinately late, mind you, will certainly not absolve those who ‘fiddled while Barbuda burned.’
It was Mr. Linton Thomas, aka Senator Thomas, a true patriot and tireless advocate for his dearly beloved Barbuda, who giddily delivered the very good news on an Observer radio broadcast yesterday, and we here at NEWSCO certainly share his joy. Conversely, we have felt his immeasurable pain. We have seen him wipe tears as he recounted the damage to his homeland. We have heard his cry from the heart as he begged and pleaded for assistance for Barbudans. At those moments of enormous hurt, his voice would tremble as his lips quivered, a grief-stricken son of the soil, inconsolable and frustrated. But he never gave up, even when others lost the stomach for the agitation and the fight; even when others became disillusioned with a broken spirit. Which, by the way, almost seemed to be a part of the perfidious plan of the central government – to break the Barbudans’ legendary stubborn will and bring them to their knees.
Of course, going forward, it does not have to be this way. The APUA, NODS and other reconstruction workers, engineers and labourers can step it up some. In the talks (And there ought always to be talks) between all the stakeholders, we are asking that good sense, non-partisanship and foresight prevail. Barbuda needs to be able to support itself and contribute in a more substantive way to the national economy. The Barbuda Council payroll is way to big, with not enough work being produced for the money being paid. This is an anomaly that must be corrected. In that regard, the Barbudan economy needs some diversification so that it is not entirely dependent on small and subsistence farming, fishing and hotel and guest home services. There has to be some new thinking on how Barbuda can become a mini ‘economic powerhouse.’
Small islands like Hong Kong became economic giants, and it is not a leap to think outside the box and envision Barbuda as a small dynamo here in the Caribbean. Perhaps the next generation of thinkers can come up with ideas and solutions to move Barbuda forward.
Naturally, Barbudans must be a part of the development process – not spectators waiting for a handout. And they must not be treated as such by the central government. This really has to be a grand partnership. After all, when the Barbudans are confident that they are not being forced-fed, and that their concerns are being taken into consideration, and that they have an important voice in the way forward, we believe that Paradise Found and Paradise Lost can truly become Paradise Regained. Again, we salute the authorities for this ‘rustling in the coco plum leaves,’ and we trust that this new effort will bear much good fruit!