the purpose of journalism is to provide a looking glass to our society and
reflect through photos, words, video and film our country; then that’s
what we’ve been doing.
trained our cameras on gang boys shooting one another over drug territory;
on the garbage carelessly thrown by us citizens without pride on our
streets and rivers; on the poor rural families steeped in alcohol, incest
and illiteracy and on the disintegrating infrastructure of roads, drains
been side-tracked from the real issues of literacy, health, poverty,
housing, overspending and under producing. Diversions such as soap operas
about disgraced former ministers of government, querulous picking over the
name of a national award, an openly squabbling power hungry Opposition,
the Chief Justice imbroglio, allegations of government funds being used to
buy votes in advance in the form of housing and make-work programmes.
reflected alarm at our rising obesity; at our lifestyle related diseases;
and at our propensity to consume fat, salt, bread and meat in quantities
that has given us the dubious honour of having the highest incidence of
diabetes and heart disease in the hemisphere.
lest we be called killjoys, we have also splashed our covers and screens
with our beautiful women preening in plumed costumes, an early reminder of
the longest, biggest, party on earth, the Carnival.
the oil flowing at the price that it is, we are not doing too badly. Never
mind the rising prices of food, the shrivelling stock market, the low
production and our absolute failure to launch into any kind of real free
know of two definitions of development. One is philosophical, it maintains
that a truly civilised society is measured by the way it treats its most
vulnerable: children, the elderly, the ill, the dispossessed and the poor.
not entirely dissimilar one, is measurable in global terms. That’s the
United Nations (UN) development index. When last I checked we had slipped.
were, to our shock, among the lowest ranking developing countries in the
world, 13 countries below Barbados—and all Barbados has is beaches. The
UN measures development over the percentage of gross domestic product
(GDP) that a country spends on its health and education. We were spending
far less than countries that are far poorer than ours in natural
HIV/Aids incidence and deaths were rising even as Barbados’ were
falling. And we sent the smallest per cent of our youth to tertiary
education despite the fact that we have a major campus of the University
of the West Indies in our country and compulsory primary and secondary
we must carve out a chunk of space in the looking glass for that
glittering precious bauble our citizens have been handed in the past year
or so—free tertiary education. Applause Applause. Even if this
Government does nothing for its people for the rest of its term, I will
continue to applaud that move. I have come across literally dozens of
bright young people over the years that had the ability and the desire to
become doctors, lawyers, engineers, bio-chemists, geologists and every
other profession under the sun, but lacked the means. So these bright
minds have floated around and faded into nothing.
don’t know if we have the administration or the standards policing put
into place to sift out the young people who genuinely want to learn and
who have the staying power to complete their studies from the floaters who
are wasting public funds.
I do know that with an educated populace contributing their skills to this
country we can pick up the garbage, lower the incidence of HIV/Aids and
save the boys from getting bullets to their brains. See the bauble in the
corner of our looking glass. See it flood us with light.