BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — The Government has announced that November 30 will no longer be known as Independence Day but will be called Barbados National Day to incorporate celebrations for the anniversary of the country becoming a republic, sparking public backlash.
However, Prime Minister Mia Mottley has defended the move.
The surprise announcement came from Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams on Tuesday as Barbadians entered Independence month and prepared to celebrate the 56th anniversary of Independence from Britain which coincides with the first anniversary of the country transitioning to a republic.
The disclosure came just over a year after Mottley declared, in a national address, that the move to republican status would not result in any change to the name of Independence Day.
"There is no change to the flag. There is no change to the name of Independence Day; there is no change to the name of Barbados. Barbados is Barbados. We're not the Commonwealth of Barbados; we're not the Republic of Barbados; Barbados is Barbados. We are also not changing our pledge," she said in August 2021 when she announced that the then Governor General Dame Sandra Mason had been nominated to be the first president of Barbados.
The apparent about-turn led to criticism on various social media platforms.
The prime minister, who said she had "seen and heard the comments this afternoon on social media", defended the name change in a statement late Tuesday night.
"Irrespective of how the Government has felt about this issue last year and the decision we made, there is the reality that there has been confusion as to how the election of the first Barbadian head of State would be celebrated without undermining the significance of November 30, 1966.
"It is not either one or the other. Both are milestones in our journey. And as a 56-year-old country we must act with our minds focused on the future," she said.
Mottley insisted that "Barbados National Day on November 30 allows us to celebrate both the attainment of Independence and the attainment of becoming a parliamentary republic with a native Barbadian as president".
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