A true legacy
Every time a leader is called to govern a jurisdiction, many look upon that leader and ask: what will be his/her legacy?
The very same leaders do ask themselves what legacy they will leave when their tenure comes to an end. Do these entities, both the leaders and the people that are being led, understand the true meaning of a legacy? If so, what is their perspective of a legacy?
Many of us believe that a leader should leave something that is tangible in nature in order to be considered a legacy. Moreover, this ideology of a legacy has been drilled into our heads by influential people and by highly certified professionals, who constantly refer to the tangible legacies of former leaders such as Errol Barrow. However, even though these legacies have their positives in assisting the people socially and somewhat economically, such legacies tend to make the people heavily reliant on them and, over time, heavily dependent on those who are maintaining these tangible legacies.
There are leaders who become so caught up of being revered among those former leaders that they forgo the needs of the country and implement their tangible legacies without properly considering the social and economic consequences. An example of this can be drawn from the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) during 1994 to 2008, where the former administration’s leader wanted to be known as the one who has placed a university graduate in every household. Although that endeavour is ideal to both political parties in Barbados, to pursue such tangible legacy has to take into mind where and how the funding will be obtained and the necessity of having a UWI graduate in every bajan home. Unfortunately, unlike Mr. Barrow and Mr. Sandiford that set up revenue earning mechanism to finance their tangible legacies or built such legacies which would contribute to government’s revenue income, the Owen Arthur led administration resorted to excessive borrowing. They abolished policies which made the acceptable number of Barbadian students to the University of the West Indies (UWI) directly proportional to the amount of money that the Barbados’ government can afford to pay; and by encouraging UWI Cave Hill Campus to make unnecessary expansions. These measures, over time, resulted in the outstanding arrears by government to UWI as well as an increase in the cost of operations at UWI.
Luckily for Barbados, there is the Democratic Labour party (DLP) that is renowned as having leaders who neither seek to be famous nor seek to implement tangible legacies (willy-nilly) to please the masses. But rather implement non-tangible legacies that will empower and enlighten Barbadians, and also implement tangible legacies that are needed and that are feasible.
Reference can be made from 2008 to 2010, where the late Prime Minister David Thompson established non-tangible legacies such as the Constituency Council to empower our communities, as well as the introduction of courses for Minivans and ZR operators at the Barbados Community College (BCC) so that these operators would become more costumer friendly. Tangible legacies such as free bus ride for school children in uniform to deter students from the notorious minivan culture and to encourage students of the poor to go to school.
In addition, many ask what legacies will the present Prime Minister, The Rt. Hon. Freundel Stuart leave, focusing solely on the tangible side of it. If one looks carefully, this present leader is not concerned on leaving tangible legacies, but rather those that are non-tangible. Specifically, the leader is constructing a legacy of being a humble, collegial leader, and a strong leader who is focused on doing what is necessary for the good of his people and his country. Moreover, the leader is building a legacy of making his people to become true craftsmen of their fate in terms of entrepreneurship, whether they hold a university degree or not.
Thatcherism is a terminology that is used to refer to the tough, though necessary changes that Britain’s first female PM, Mrs Margaret Thatcher, made to maintain the UK’s economy. The word is used internationally to refer to similar policies that Mrs Thatcher had implemented. Similarly, in time to come, the Barbadian terminology, “Stuartism”, shall be a non-tangible legacy of Mr. Stuart, which shall refer to as creating a country that is socially balanced, economically viable, environmentally sound and characterised by good, honest governance.
Now, is that a legacy worth leaving?