A show of our Caribbean `oneness' Guest Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
May 22, 2002

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THE introduction of honorary awards for Guyanese who have acquired Barbadian citizenship, or immigrant status, and provided outstanding and long years of varied services in their adopted homeland, is a commendable idea in the fostering of friendship and goodwill among member states of our Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Initiated by Guyana's Consul in Barbados, Norman Faria, himself a Barbados-born citizen of Guyanese parentage, the inaugural award ceremony, planned for Sunday in consultation with the Guyana Foreign Ministry, is a concept that could be emulated by other countries of CARICOM.

Similar initiatives were earlier undertaken by Guyana's High Commissions in Canada and Britain. But now, for the first time in the Caribbean.

Long before the dawn of political independence, the extended "Caribbean family" with nationals living and holding well-placed positions in the public and private sectors in various Community states that are their adopted homelands, developed across the region.

This is particularly the case in Barbados-Guyana relations. And so integrated have Bajan-Guyanese family circles evolved over the years that it is often meaningless to make a point of emphasis of their country of birth when referring or commenting on their outstanding contributions in various fields. They have become part of the "melting pot".

The group of 11 "Guyanese Barbadians", as Consul Faria has so described them in a statement in announcing the awards for outstanding contributions to Barbados, include some very prominent and influential individuals in the fields of business, culture, health and social welfare in Barbados.

The famous sculptor Karl Broodhagen, business executive Cecil de Caires, Dr Elizabeth Ferdinand, public health specialist, 'Auntie' Olga Lopes-Seale, a virtual household name, and retired nurse Doreen Boyce are but a few. This, of course, does not diminish the contributions made, or continued to be made, by the less well-known awardees chosen for the inaugural ceremony in the fields of music, agriculture, small business, community services, and others.

This awards idea also sharply contrasts with the negative images that develop from actions and social behaviour by some Guyanese and Barbadians and, at times, require government-to-government dialogue in the interest of maintaining friendly relations.

In the spirit of generating goodwill and deepening consciousness of how much we share in common as diverse peoples of 'one Caribbean', there have been the post-independence mushrooming of various "friendship" associations, involving for instance, Barbadians and Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Guyanese, St. Lucians and Grenadians.

Hopefully, with new initiatives to encourage free movement to live and work, introduction of common intra-regional travel documents and, generally, the much greater interaction to result from the inauguration of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), there will be even more creative efforts at fostering that spirit of "oneness" as the people of a Community of sovereign states increasingly speaking with one voice in dealing with the wider world.
*(Reprinted from yesterday's `Daily Nation' of Barbados)