The Queen is dead, time to cut ties
Queen Elizabeth II (PHOTO: ANDY BUCHANAN)

As I scavenged the Internet trying to find evidence in support of Queen Elizabeth II's contribution to Jamaica during her 70-year reign I came up empty-handed, finding only a mere skeletal statement from the royal family's website revealing that The Queen's role in Jamaica was only ceremonial, and is represented by a governor general appointed by the prime minister.

SYMBOLISM

To a plethora of Jamaicans The Queen symbolised the horrific role the British monarchy played in institutionalising slavery in Jamaica. The transatlantic slave trade dates back to the 16th century, which allowed the British to perpetrate egregious sufferation on black people to the enjoyment and wealth of white people. In return, Jamaica might as well be regarded as an impoverished nation holding on to the proverbial riches of reparation.

The Advocates Network, a Jamaican human rights coalition, drafted an open letter, signed by more than 100 Jamaicans, addressed to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and his wife Kate, on their visit to Jamaica in March of this year. In part, the letter reads, "During her 70 years on the throne your grandmother has done nothing to redress and atone for the suffering of our ancestors that took place during her reign and/or during the entire period of British trafficking of Africans, enslavement, indentureship, and colonisation."

The Independent, a British newspaper, in its recent publication cited Jah Mickey Bowe, vice-chair of the House of Rastafari in The Bahamas as saying, "Within The Bahamas, those leading the charge to openly mourn The Queen are migrants from Britain, politicians, and older citizens raised under British rule, with the younger generations being largely indifferent."

The article also stated that in Kenya, and even within parts of the UK, people have retained anger at British colonial crimes for which there has been no apology, compensation, or atonement. He recalled periods of brutal rape, murder, theft, and destruction wreaked upon the country and wider continent through hostilities such as the Mau Mau Rebellion.

THE SUPERIORITY OF IT ALL

Pall-bearers carry the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II.ap

On special occasions — invented only for subjugation — The Queen and the members of the royal family would stand in performance looking down from their high tower and wave at their "subjects'' who deferentially line both sides of the street for as far the eyes can see. At times, while on their walk-abouts, the royals would merely shake hands while repeating superfluous incantations with those from behind the "bars". Even though the British monarchy is considered to be stoic and old-fashioned, there's an intrinsic demand to uphold the extravagance and entitlement through taxpayer funds. Non-royalists would liken this to exploitation.

MOURNING THE QUEEN

In this video grab Opposition spokeswoman on foreign affairs Lisa Hanna pays tribute to Britain's late Queen Elizabeth II.

In paying tribute in the House of Representatives, Opposition spokesperson on foreign affairs and foreign trade Lisa Hanna noted that The Queen personified strength, grace, and determination. Lisa Hanna declared, "We would like to see Britain perhaps face up to the legacy of some of its participation in this reality and to acknowledge its history and the consequences thereof and begin to take some concrete steps to rectify it." Hanna chided, "It is time to correct their historical wrongs by resetting its political, economic, and social systems for future generations. If not, we, in Jamaica, will only watch that country walk alone backwards into the future with its leaders' eyes closed."

Historical brutality happened on Queen Elizabeth's watch, yet she simultaneously managed to enchant her subjects with the veneer of pageantry, grandeur, privilege, entitlement, and contrived presentations of warmth and generosity during her reign. The monarchy, over the decades, has been mired by scandal and discord, and even in her death The Queen is revered by countless people across the globe.

Despite Prime Minister Andrew Holness's declaration that his office has already begun the process of removing The Queen as head of State, he also declared that Jamaica is to officially mourn The Queen for 12 days. There are arguments that this approach is nonsensical and brings about a certain absurdity.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and his wife Kate (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

There are Jamaicans who have positively contributed to the existence of others, for instance teachers shaping lives and imparting critical knowledge and skills to the young generation; scientists and engineers who help to garner general productivity; entrepreneurs who contribute to the employment of other Jamaicans for their own economic stability; and human rights and environmental advocates, yet they are hardly ever acknowledged in life, much less to be publicly mourned in death by a prime minister.

Moving forward, should there be a national mourning for those people who have actually positively transformed lives and helped to liberate citizens in some form or another? Sure, this might be construed as mere rhetoric, however, it can also bring attention to the need for prioritising initiatives that should be in alignment with the governance of Jamaica. After all, the island is currently contending with the prolonged social and economic distress of political corruption; crime and violence, especially against women and girls; poverty; insufficient health care; unemployment; homelessness; legal injustices; inadequate education; social insecurity; agriculture; and food safety.

The Queen's death is a watershed moment that presents the perfect opportunity to hasten a referendum on an archaic monarchical realm and a chance to bring about a truly independent Jamaica.

klandine79@hotmail.com

BY KLANDINE THOMAS

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