ALL AH WE IS ONE: Republicanism now
THE NEWS THAT Harry of the House of Windsor will be visiting Barbados at the very moment when the country is supposed to be celebrating its 50th anniversary of Independence, is like your ex-wife forcing you to babysit her children on the night of your second wedding.
It is deliberately calculated to pour cold water on any pretensions that 50 years of formal sovereignty has diminished the fact that the people of a predominantly black, formerly British-enslaved country are anything less than subjects of the British crown.
In a few days, Barbados will face the ignominy of its mature Governor General taking a back seat while the childish symbol of British over-lordship takes centre stage.
It is a calculated reminder of the underling status that global powers have consigned us to, a fact always celebrated by those who have historically been opposed to the dignity and self-respect of the majority population. Progressives, stay tuned for the inevitable gloating and insults in the coming days, as we celebrate “independence”.
The only ones who can restore the self-worth and dignity of the people are the people themselves in association with the more progressive elements who happen from time to time to occupy parliamentary and governmental office.
There is no reason why after subsequent administrations have articulated the clear intention of moving Barbados to republican status that our leaders would have been so deeply in sleep that the 50th anniversary of Independence is now catching them paying direct homage to their unrepentant masters as the main feature of the jubilee celebrations.
Why would leaders who are supposed to be in charge of our destiny find themselves able only to “call for” republican status and do nothing else about it? The answer can only be that they are either not interested in pursuing it, or worse, are using republicanism as a Machiavellian tool to pretend to be “progressives” when deep in their bones, they are unapologetically colonial.
The truth is, the pursuit of republican status for Barbados is a relatively easy matter. As opposed to helplessly calling for it as Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has done, he can use his authority in the following way:
Since the Henry Forde report has been thoroughly undertaken and well ventilated, there is no need for an additional study. Stuart is free to form a committee with a mandate and deadline to review the Forde recommendations. Then Parliament meets, debates and adopts the committee’s recommendations. Whether a special referendum is required or not is immaterial. The fact is a Barbadian government would have taken active steps to make republicanism a reality.
It is because no such steps have been taken, that the whole country is now being faced with the deep embarrassment of marking its 50th year with the in-your-face reminder that Barbadians are subjects of the British crown.
•Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specialising in regional affairs. Email: [email protected]