Little or no warning in Jamaica about the platinum jubilee of the United Kingdom this weekend. No bunting, no formal party at the king’s house, nothing. The main celebration is a big party celebrating 50 yearsThe tenth memory More is comingThe Jamaican film that introduced the culture of reggae and Rasta to the world.
It is a more appropriate celebration in a year when Jamaica also celebrates milestones such as 60 years of independence, with many activities, memorials and celebrations in honor of our national history, organized by the Department of Leisure and Culture in which I work.
In April, planners of “Offensive Royal Magic” believed that a visit by Prince William and his wife Kate to Jamaica – the new generation of royals – would generate a wave of happiness and pride in the Caribbean’s ties to the “Motherland” and boosted the image of the Queen in our eyes as part of her jubilee celebration General rule of the British Empire.
Rather, it was not only a reminder of Jamaica’s long-standing claim to reparations for slavery, but also that we saw Jamaica from the perspective of being a colony.
David Cameron made earlier official British statements on reparations in 2015, when he told the Jamaican Parliament that we should forget about reparations and instead accept a modern prison as a British gift to house the many descendants of Jamaicans from Windrush immigrants whose government was deporting them. And they planned to continue the deportation. They said they weren’t in our territory, which offered Cameron a more personal openness to his position.
The tone of anger against the Caribbean Jubilee was on display from the start of the Royal Tour, when the natives of Belize also told William “It’s not in our land” and instead demanded compensation when he was planning to land his plane. On the football field in their community.
This was only the first statement of many by other former Caribbean colonies calling for reparations for slavery. While the fire of reparations has never erupted anywhere descendants of brutality and the abuse of slavery live, glowing coals have ignited over the decades with sparks that often awaken. But the prospect of removing the Queen of England from leading our nation has ignited a new fire in the hearts of Jamaica.
Embers have been lit several times by promises of prime ministers dating back to Michael Manley in the 1970s and re-ignited by the promises of every subsequent prime minister, including the current president. But such a legislative change would require a referendum, and Jamaican prime ministers fear that it is the only person invited to vote on a plan to unite the West Indies into a federation that has denied Michael’s father, Norman W. Manley, the possibility of being Jamaica’s first post-independence prime minister.
The fires of reparations ignited every time Pan African Jamaican activists, Garvite, Black Lives Matter, and always turbulent Rastafari gathered at festivities to remind all of England and Jamaica’s bitter history. But a large log was thrown into a fire that turned it into a volcano when Barbados Prime Minister Mia Motley declared Barbados a republic a year ago. Barbados! The ‘Little Island’ we used to call ‘Little England’ with a smile, is taking a big step forward towards Jamaica!
To illustrate, Motley declared his country music star Rihanna a national hero, joking with Jamaica but not honoring her biggest star, Bob Marley. She even invited future King Charles to stand with his head bowed and watch her take down Union Jack to break the chains.
This is what he did for us. If Barbados can do it, so can we! The Queen’s removal immediately became the most popular topic of discussion in Jamaica, not because of her color or race, but because of her role as the successor to the history of slavery and British colonialism that brought Jamaica’s poverty and associated ills.
As Kristen Giles wrote in Jamaican Gliner: “We are no longer brutalized for free labor and farms outside the system…but there is a direct economic impact on the descendants of slaves that is literally felt and experienced today.”
A group of notable Jamaicans organized a rally at the start of William’s visit, giving a speech apologizing for slavery and reparations, explaining that they “see no reason to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of his grandmother’s accession to the British throne. For his ancestors have performed the greatest human rights tragedy in human history.”
But as Reverend Raulon Nimbard explained, writing in the Jamaica Observer: “The process of removing the Queen from her well-established chicks will not be as easy as we think. Our colonial rulers at Westminster made sure of it. It is deeply rooted in our constitution, which two of our national heroes signed. Each year , at the inauguration of Parliament, the Queen’s representative, the Governor-General, makes the Throne Address. Why are we slaves to this tradition?”
They are still royalists and will continue to vehemently oppose any attempt to remove their beloved white queen and her family of princes, princesses, dukes and dukes. But comments on social media show that the vast majority of Jamaicans would have greeted Harry and Meghan with more enthusiasm than William and Kate. Jamaicans, like other multiracial members of the Commonwealth, have been shocked and angered by the way the royal family appears to have ignored what many see as the British media’s racist treatment of Meghan, and may have been a key component of many nations’ decisions to act. away from the British monarch as head of state.
Days after William and Kate left, former Prime Minister PJ Patterson said he regretted not making Jamaica a republic during his 20-year administration, and offered suggestions on how to do so now. He is not alone. He also supported the leaders of the other two phases of the royal visit to the republic and reparations. Bahamas Reform Commission Chairman Dr Nyambe Hall Campbell Dean also called for the Bahamas to become a republic in March, noting that its citizens “owe nothing to this royal family and the regime they represent.” The royal visit to the Bahamas coincided with the fifteenth anniversary of the United Nations International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Belize, already removed from its British colonial ties, recently announced its joining the Caricom Society and called for reparations. “Before they ask us for treatment, they should right the wrong they have done to indigenous and Afro-descendant people and their heritage,” said Christina Cook, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Indigenous Mayan Leaders in Southern Belize.
The Jamaican government created a new ministry led by former Attorney General Marilyn Malaho Forte, with a specific mandate to guide Jamaica along the path to becoming a republic and pledged to achieve it within a year. There is indeed a historic commitment to the Republic of Jamaica made nearly 30 years ago by the Constitutional Committee, whose recommendation was subsequently accepted by a Joint Select Committee of Parliament. The Republic of Jamaica will replace the Queen as Head of State with a President appointed by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and endorsed by a two-thirds majority of both Houses of Parliament for a six-year term limited to two terms.
Much more needs to be done for Jamaica to achieve its goal. An early date should be set for the appointment of the full set of the Constitutional Reform Advisory Committee to develop and monitor the stages and timetable for the start and end of the parliamentary process, a necessary prelude to a necessary national referendum. But we are ready.
For 70 years, God has saved our gracious queen to reign over us, happy and glorious. But somehow, familiar words won’t leave our lips for King Charles as easily as they have for Elizabeth over the past 70 years.
Barbara Blake-Hana is a journalist and cultural coordinator for the Jamaican government
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