Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
By Lenrod Nzulu Baraka
When I heard that Jamaica had declared 12 days of mourning after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, I went online to double check and make sure I had heard correctly. Much to my dismay the report was not some disinformation campaign started by forces trying to make Jamaica sound like some little backward colony of Great Britain. My dismay was doubly confounded when I discovered that Great Britain was only mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II for 10 days.
My dismay and confusion stemmed from the recent position taken by Prime Minister of Jamaica on the subject of Jamaica ditching the monarchy of Great Britain as the head of state of Jamaica. Prime Minister Andrew Holness basically told the representative of the monarchy, “Pack your stuff. We have got this.” After serving William, Kate, and the rest of the royal family their eviction notice, it seemed as though Jamaica was finally and fully on board the Republican train.
The significance of Jamaica declaring 12 days of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II rests in the fact that Jamaica is the natural leader of the pact in the Caribbean. Jamaica has rightly been called the Nigeria of the English-speaking Caribbean. Jamaica is the land of Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey, Rastafari, revolutionary reggae, Usain Bolt, Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson. When the world thinks about the Caribbean the world first thinks about Jamaica.
The stance taken by Jamaica on issues of importance to the Caribbean is therefore of paramount importance. For example, in 1961 after a referendum was taken in Jamaica to determine whether Jamaica should remain in the Caribbean Federation, Jamaica gave the thumbs down to the Federation and unceremoniously withdrew. The departure of Jamaica, followed by the departure of Trinidad, led to the collapse of the Caribbean Federation.
Jamaica’s size and international standing makes this Caribbean nation the natural country to lead the charge on issues like reparatory justice, climate change mitigation and adaptation, debt restructuring for small developing states, banking de-risking in the Caribbean, more equitable racial representation on the UN Security Council, Pan-African development and a slew of other pressing issues impacting the Caribbean community.
Ironically, it is the tiny Caribbean island of Barbados that is currently leading the charge in many of these areas. Little Barbados, a ‘smallie’ in the patois of Jamaicans, led by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, is throwing down the gauntlet at Climate Conferences, the UN General Assembly, and before special committees of the US Senate. Barbados sneeringly referred to by many as Little England by day and Little Sodom by night, is taking the fight to the developed world to achieve greater economic and social justice for the global Black collective.
The Mia Motley administration in Barbados must also be congratulated for having the testicular fortitude to remove the offensive statue of Admiral Lord Nelson from its lofty perch in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. PM Mia Motley also gave the English monarchy a royal send off while simultaneously installing a Barbadian as the head of the new Republic of Barbados.
Now that her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been laid to rest with her ancestors, the Caribbean community can only hope that the PM Holness’ administration will continue packing the royal stuff in boxes to be shipped back to England in anticipation of Jamaica joining the list of Republics in the Caribbean. The land of Marley, Garvey, and Rastafari should not be playing second fiddle to any Caribbean nations on issues dear to the hearts of people of African ancestry. What was the thinking behind the 12 days of national mourning for the Queen in Jamaica? I really would love to hear PM Holness explain this ambivalent decision.
Lenrod Nzulu Baraka is the founder of Afro-Caribbean Spiritual Teaching Center.