If you are a descendant of enslaved Africans, the fact that you are reading this is also living testimony that your ancestors did more than just endure. They aspired. They had hope. Existing for hundreds of years in bondage, stuck for generations deep, being considered as beasts of burden, and still they aspired to freedom, for better. Think about it. What kind of indomitable spirit must a person have to risk learning to read, knowing that by sowing seeds of knowledge they risked reaping a whipping, and probably it would not bring any change in their status as slave? Without clear sight of the end they pressed ahead. With hands and feet restricted, they understood that the key to freedom was in their heads.
These are all challenges that every nation may possibly face. But there is a unique challenge that faces nations like Barbados. Nations emerging from slavery and colonization have remnants of those systems woven into the fabric of their culture. How do you pull out the deep threads of oppression without unraveling the whole cultural cloth? This is a question that, in our aversion to dealing with hard questions of history, class and race, we have very much avoided. We can’t continue to do that if we want to transform Barbados and live as free and equal citizens of a strong nation.
In today’s world when things change so rapidly, learning will have to extend long after schooling. The recently announced National Transformation Initiative and Coursera partnership offering free online educational opportunities to Barbadians is right on time. If you are already a life long lover of learning, this is a good time to be alive. If you have never learned to love learning, as long as you are still alive, it is not too late to build the mindset. We can all learn to love learning for life. The best teacher you have is you.