Barbados and Australia have recently severed ties with the British crown but they have the same system of government as the colonial power that stole, sold, and oppressed Black and Aboriginal peoples for over four hundred years. Now Belize and Jamaica are pressing demands about the role of the British crown in the slave trade and colonization of the Caribbean islands. Who will apologize to all the generations of freed slaves for idolizing the broken and corrupt model of the people’s house? There is hardly a visionary dimension to be found in the governments of the greater and lesser antilles. Who beside the usual armchair freedom fighters and quasi-revolutionary Pan-African intellectuals are cheering?
It was not the British crown that made 99% of the nations in the Caribbean pull out all the stops to maintain a system of useless votes, dubious debates, bogus budget statements, apathetic amendments to law, and the facade of national unity. We did that ourselves because we have had too few leaders willing to think outside of the box. You guessed it if you are beginning to think that we have been robbed of outbox action. The people who were silent over the centuries and in the more recent decades when governments were imitating the United States and Great Britain with the oppression of poor people, the suppression of the legitimate Rastafarian religion, the idolization of law, and the frittering away of homeborn culture. Who should be embarrassed is quite clear.
Since the ballot box serves to establish the public sentiment it is an abject shame that the result of a plebiscite can be a tool in the construction of a national suicide. We should not allow our votes to be used to facilitate opposition and division. We know what happens to divided domains. Making our votes count is not rocket science but it takes a vision and courage.
Parliaments that thrive on facts and reason are rare. All that matters is mathematics: how many votes in the house can be mustered in defence of the leading party’s initiatives. Speakers have a hard enough time keeping simple speaking order – speak then listen – so it is a Herculean task to hold members of parliament to logic and common sense. Let us not be deceived by what we hear on the hustings. People running for political office are unwilling champions of truth and civic society. What we hear at political rallies and in the pre-election advertisements is a mix of pollyanna rhetoric and juvenile wishes. Real debates are hard to find.
Bogus budget statements
In my experience a family goes shopping with cash or credit and both can run out when the spending is completely transparent. The millions and billions mentioned budgets statements need to be seen in their relevance to improving the lives of ordinary citizens. When the average citizen cannot see how the numbers add up in a Finance Minister’s statement to the nation, greed, discrimination and corruption are in the works.
Apathetic amendments to law
Following what is assumed to be a Biblical basis for legislation most nations in the Caribbean have allowed punishment and the violation of human rights to appear as the solution to the problems of civic society. When laws, amendments or originals, do not pass the smell test – justice, mercy and reliability – those innovations should be abandoned. We all know people who are so loyal to law that they no longer recognize human need. Remember the “too holy to help” kinds of people, like the people in the Good Samaritan story.
The facade of national unity
It must be obvious by why we have examined thus far that the substantive notions of independence and good government have been left on the dusty shelves of our high school textbooks, treated as utopian fantasy, in full defiance of the combined weight of our sacred books, so no-one is raising his or her right hand as experienced offspring and root of what is precious and invaluable. Maybe it is best we say nothing about national unity, even when we have incontrovertible rocks to stand on, such as the men and women who took the first steps in shepherding our people, through the early years of our emancipation. Let it suffice to say that we can always trash our national heroes for moral failings, political missteps, and even for losing their way entirely, but we have no rationale for denying that figures of national importance are immovable rocks. How we build on what they have started will be the measure of our strength as a people and nation. The people of Australia, Belize, Barbados and Jamaica are being duped again by people who choose to forget our recent history and are willing to deny that our choice to imitate the oppressor and not the liberator is suicidal. There are no great dead peoples.