Anthem for Martinique
Whether they are called departments, non-incorporated territories or associated states, the reality is that they are all colonies, and the Caribbean region has the highest concentration of such colonies in the world!
There are the micro-colonies: Cayman Islands, Turks & Cacos Islands, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Anguilla, St. Martin, Montserrat, Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba. There is also the group of relatively larger colonies: Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Martinique.
So there is a total of fifteen colonies in the Caribbean. And coincidentally, the number of nations that comprise our independent Caribbean Community is also fifteen. We can therefore see that the Caribbean still has a long way to go to secure its independence.
It is against this background therefore that a Barbados delegation made up of our Cultural Ambassador, Anthony Gabby Carter and myself (the President of the Peoples Empowerment Party, David Comissiong) visited the French colony of Martinique over the weekend of January 12 and 13, 2013, as guests of the anti-colonial Coordination Des Comites Populaires of Martinique.
Comissiong and Carter, along with delegates from Guadelopue (Marie-Christine Myre Quidal) and Trinidad & Tobago (Khafra and Asha Kambon) attended the annual conference of the grass-roots based Popular Committees Movement, and also engaged in discussions with the representatives of a broad spectrum of anti-colonial organisations, inclusive of the Union for the Liberation of Guadeloupe, Society For Frantz Fanon, Groupe Revolution Socialiste and the Popular Movement For Resistance In Martinique.
The Barbadian delegates explained to their Martinican brothers and sisters that in spite of Barbados having been a colony of Britain for well over 300 years, and in spite of the fact that Barbados had very few natural resources, the people of Barbados made a courageous decision to opt for Independence in 1966, and have had no reason to regret that decision in the succeeding years. They further explained that over the 46 years of Independence, Barbados was transformed from an impoverished society with many negative social indicators, to a modern progressive country that rose to as high as the 19th position on the UNDP’s Human Development Index in the early 1990s.
The clear message to the people of Martinique was that they could do it too, and that they should reject the French propaganda that seeks to convince them that independence is not a viable proposition for Martinique.
Comissiong delivered this message in several speeches, but the Gabby delivered it in an even more striking and forceful manner by composing and performing a “national song” for Martinique which bore the following lyrics:
Rise Martinique, rise
Rise Martinique, rise
Raise your flag, yes
Raise it! Raise it!
Red, green and black
No turning back
Raise it, raise it
Rise Martinique, rise!
The flag referred to in Gabby’s national song is the red, green and black flag that has been adopted by the anti-colonial movement of Martinique. The main champion of this “independence flag” has been the legendary anti-colonial mayor of the city of St Anne’s, Garcin Malsa.
The time has come for all of us in the Caribbean to join hands with each other, and to engage in a collective struggle for a united and sovereign Caribbean nation and civilisation. No longer must we allow language or colonial barriers to keep us apart!
* David Comissiong is President of the Peoples Empowerment Party