Away with UK
“It is not enough to be semicolon, to be semicolony”
(extract from Negus by Kamau Brathwaite).
As the world sinks deeper and deeper into a civilisational crisis, sensible and forward-looking Barbadians are earnestly trying to find within our Barbadian society and polity tangible evidence of an authentic sovereign national culture and spirit upon which we can construct a strong and credible response to the encircling gloom.
And it is because the Peoples Empowerment Party is so profoundly invested in this national mission that we cannot help but publicly deplore the fact that outstanding citizens of our country are still receiving and accepting such “honours” as Order of the British Empire or are receiving knighthoods that are dished out as part of the “Queen’s birthday honours”.
What kind of psychological foundation are we setting for our nation when we do our most outstanding citizens the disservice of making them “members” and “commanders” of the abomination that was known to history as “the British Empire”?
Any historian worth his salt will tell you that the British Empire was arguably the greatest criminal enterprise in history! Its beginnings can be traced back to the Third Crusade of 1188, when King Richard I of England led a mercenary army to the Middle East and captured and pillaged Cyprus and the town of Jaffa. But perhaps a more poignant starting-place for us black folks would be 1564 — the year in which Queen Elizabeth I provided John Hawkins with a 700 tonne ship and sent him to the West Coast of Africa to burn and destroy the towns and to capture black men and women and reduce them to slavery.
Indeed, the trade in African human-beings provided the British “kleptocracy” (headed by its various kings and queens) with a springboard to launch its piratical activities into the rest of the African continent, the Caribbean, North America, Australia, India, China, New Zealand, the Middle East, the islands of the Pacific, and the list goes on.
This thing called “the British Empire” was a trans-national racket based on organised theft, racism, murder, genocide, mass kidnappings, forced labour, and virtually every other criminal abuse known to mankind!
How can we therefore build the new national society – the new Barbados – if we continue to psychologically anchor our nation to institutions that are so anachronistic and alien to our best interests as the British Monarch and her Empire?
And this criticism is not meant to reflect in a negative manner on such stalwart citizens as Wesley Hall, Rev. Oscar Millar, Dr. George Reid, Dr. Frances Chandler, David Harding, Collis Blackman and Hensley Robinson!
Indeed, if we ever achieve the “new national society” in Barbados, these are the types of human pillars upon which it will be built, for they carry within them the very best of our national virtues!
Where would Barbados be today without the selfless, visionary labour and dedication of educators like Rev. Oscar Millar and his band of “brothers” – stalwart educators such as Goulbourne Brathwaite, Rev. George Marville, Charles F. Broomes, Enid Lynch and the list goes on?
Or, what would have become of our agricultural sector if Dr. Frances Chandler had not remained in Barbados and fought steadfastly in the trenches for the past 40 years? Or, how could the mighty edifice of Barbadian and West Indian cricket have been built without the heroic efforts of a Wes Hall? And we could make similar comments about each of the other recent honourees!
The critical point here is that these stalwart Barbadians are too worthy to be associated with something as tawdry as the British Empire and the Barbados government should therefore find a more appropriate way to honour them!
Furthermore, they, and the nativist virtues that they personify will have to be critical to any effort to take our nation unto a higher plane, and to forge ahead with new initiatives to construct a more self-reliant and environmentally appropriate style of living, and a truly democratic, productive and participatory society that is capable of making a unique contribution to the world.
The PEP says that the time has come for Barbados to do away with OBE’s, CBE’s and with the British monarchy! The time has come for us to self-confidently build our own civilisation and forge our own future!
* David Comissiong is the President of the Peoples Empowerment Party.