While Carnival raged in Trinidad and Tobago, I stood a spectator
with a group of tourists at the drama in the sky.
We stood there, our feet being massaged by fine grainy sand,
sunned and decked in sarong and swimsuits salted by the sea,
hair matted with the breeze that came from across the islands,
our gaze unwavering at the round fireball on the ocean.
It dipped, then some more and more.
Look out for the green flash before it goes down,
I heard someone say excitedly.
It was a sunset in Barbados. I should have been holding someones
warm hand, a child; a husbands. Instead, I stood apart
from my family momentarily, absorbed by another man.
His name is Patrick. I looked guiltily at my spouse, as if
he was able to read my cheating mind.
Pink Floyds How I wish you were here circled my mind.
I wanted to be on holiday with our Prime Minister.
As the salty breeze stung my eyes, I wanted to ask Mr Manning,
why does Barbados have the demographic profile of a developed
country and we dont?
Why does the latest UNDP Human Development Index, based on
the criteria of national income, education and health, place
Barbados 29th of 150 countries surveyed, and fourth among
Why exactly are we 54th?
Mr Manning, Barbados is a 50-minute flight away, but 26 countries
ahead of us in development. What do these people have that
Why, I wanted to shout to the sky and sea, for Gods
sake is the Bajan dollar so strong? How DOES this tiny population
distribute its income so equitably, have a highly- developed
infrastructure of highways, seaport and airport?
Why do they have total availability of electricity, water
and telecommunications services?
Why do the Canadians invest over a quarter of a billion US
dollars in their financial and service industries?
Why do they have a well-developed national security safety
net for the disadvantaged?
Why do they have a low crime rate? And why do
they have a virtual absence of social and political unrest?
How come they have all that stuff to show off about and we
Why, instead, do we have so many anxious people pitying us,
asking why, with a GDP of US$90 billion, are we living like
animals behind cages, where there is at least a murder a day?
The police are corrupt; there is no rule of law; idle soldiers
point guns at citizens; the health care is so pathetic, people
are now paying $300 to $2,000 to get a pint of blood from
fellow citizens in the blood bank; over 400,000 people are
functionally illiterate; and inflation is high, fuelled by
massive government spending.
We have oil, gas multinationals, sand and people. They have
sand and people. Yet, we are 26 countries below Barbados.
Why, then, I asked the Bajan peoplethe vendors, the
waiters, the hoteliers, the pilotsdo you have it so
good? The answer was so simple it made me want to weep.
Our government plans 20, 30, 40 years ahead for the
people. We trust them. Right now we have a nationwide drive
to improve service.
I was incredulous. Their service was perfect, yet they saw
the need to make it better.
I wish Mr Manning would go to Barbados incognito to relax
without his entourage. And as he watches the sun dip, understand
the alchemy of sand to gold.
Its about how you lead your people.