Happy 43rd Birthday, Barbados … You Look Mahvelous, Dahling!

Happy 43rd Birthday, Barbados … You Look Mahvelous, Dahling!

Celebrating Barbados' Independence Day at a roundabout in St Michael.

The roundabouts throughout the island salute Barbados' Independence Day, this one by wrapping the trunk of a palm with the colors of the nation's flag.

In November 1966, Barbados left home.  She was the jewel of the British colonies when she struck out on her own as an independent nation.  It wasn’t a difficult break and came without the rancor you often see when a nation has to fight its way free of mother’s aprons.  In fact, Barbados is today still known as “Little England.”

The Barbados Independence Act 1966 was an Act of Parliament in the UK which made Barbados an independent country with membership to the Commonwealth of Nations.

According to Wikipedia, from the arrival of the first British settlers in 1627-28 until independence, Barbados was a self-funding colony under uninterrupted British rule possessing a large measure of local autonomy. Its House of Assembly began meeting in 1639; it’s the third-oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, preceded only by Bermuda’s legislature and the Virginia House of Burgesses.

It was an easy childhood for Barbados and Barbados’ peaceful nature made her an easy child for England.

As with most children, Barbados took small steps toward emancipation.  The Crown saw local political power shifting from the British settlers who owned the large sugar plantation estates to, gradually, beginning in the 1930s, the descendants of the slaves who had been brought in from Africa to work the plantations.

One of the leaders of this movement, Sir Grantley Adams, founded the Barbados Labour Party in 1938. In 1961 Barbados achieved the status of self-governing autonomy. After years of peaceful and democratic progress, Barbados became an independent state within the British Commonwealth on November 30, 1966. Under its constitution, Barbados is a parliamentary democracy modeled on the British system.

Shared patriotism along the West Coast Boardwalk at the Beach House Restaurant.

Patriotism shared along the West Coast Boardwalk at the Beach House Restaurant.

Feted on her 43rd birthday tomorrow, Barbados’ independence will be celebrated with a parade in the Garrison Savannah, the former British military installation (and now a leading Caribbean race track and a very pretty grassy area steeped in history). (Actually, the British ran its military operation for all of the Eastern Caribbean from Barbados.)

Barbados’ annual  National Independence Festival of Creative Arts, begun in 1973 and which I only discovered as I was doing research for this blog post, celebrates seven artistic disciplines each year at this time. For three months, artistic achievement in dance, music, drama, literary arts, culinary arts, fine art and craft, and photography has been recognized. On December 6, the winners in each discipline will be announced at Ilaro Court, the Barbados Prime Minister’s official residence.

Having traveled quite a lot through the Caribbean, I notice that other countries look at Barbados as the “boring” kid of the family.  It’s true: both Jamaica and Trinidad, for example, are bigger, bolder, more colorful, and brassier former children of the Crown. No matter; with our low crime rate, peaceful politics, and high standard of living, we quite happily accept our role as the boring one of the lot.

Happy 43rd Birthday, Barbados, and many happy returns.  You look mahvelous, dahling, not a day over 35.

4 Responses to “Happy 43rd Birthday, Barbados … You Look Mahvelous, Dahling!”

  1. Kyle says:

    Happy 43rd Barbados, Land of sun and sea. It’s true that Barbados is not as colourful and bold as Trinidad or Jamaica but we make our presence felt just the same. Today every picnic point on the island was filled with people in their blue, yellow and black. The BMW Club of Barbados also showed their patriotism but hosting a drive around the island. Barbados we love you, and Jane you really are beginning to sound like a bajan. Hope you enjoyed your day as much as I did. The fireworks tonight will be the icing on the cake for me


  2. […] is November 30, Independence Day here in Barbados and a national holiday. The entire island is flagged in celebration.  Even when it’s not […]

  3. Wonderful comments, Kyle. Thank you! I missed so many photo ops yesterday … I saw a car with the head rests covered in an elastic sort of cover with a Barbadian flag motif; I saw a little boy walking with his dad along the West Coast boardwalk wearing a Barbadian flag imprinted on his t-shirt; I saw a car fly by mine with flags flying out the rear windows. Yes, it was a fun day and a great celebration for all of us (us!!) Bajans! Thanks, Kyle.

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