I am appalled by the level of discourse in this country. If we are serious about lifting our country, we have to be honest to ourselves and be prepared to speak truth to power. We can no longer push things under the carpet. Moving forward demands a careful and honest assessment of the problems and challenges we face. Only then can we think of finding solutions. As a people we have to talk to each other as fellow citizens and to discuss issues. This conversation is necessary for the solutions depend on us, not on any fairy godfather.
The nonsense I heard as we commemorated the anniversary of Emancipation prompted this article. Some persons had rightly been critical of the decision to have the inauguration of our first female Governor General on that day. It has nothing to do with the person selected, but has arisen from a principled position. How can we as we celebrate the 181st year of emancipation and in a year when we are going to be commemorating the 40th anniversary of the recovery of our independence be sending such mixed signals! The anniversary of emancipation is an important event in the history of our country and a landmark on our journey to satisfy the hopes and expectations that were generated from a people removed from the shackles of slavery. I believe it was an error and many others felt so. What is wrong with voicing an opinion on this?
The standard response we get to such matters is the ridiculous comment that we had an opportunity to vote for a new constitution and refused to do so, so we must accept anything we get. And this is continually being spouted! We were asked to vote Yes or No to a series of constitutional changes. Some persons would have agreed with some and disagreed with others. Is the suggestion here that once you voted No you were against all the proposals? What if there were specific things that you could not agree to? The issue of the CCJ and the Queen as Head of State gets squeezed into this. I had many conversations with the late Professor Simeon McIntosh of Grenada who was then Head of the Faculty of Law at Cave Hill. He was of the view that SVG erred in not allowing the citizens to vote for individual clauses. He was at that point preparing for a Referendum in Grenada and decided that he was going to propose that they vote for individual clauses and not be put in a situation that meant all or nothing. Unfortunately, he died before the Referendum was held.
From what I can remember there was broad agreement on having a President as Head of State but disagreement on the manner in which that person was to be elected or selected. To make the alarming statement that Rickey Singh made that SVG had voted to retain the Queen as Head of State is absurd to say the least.
I am told that the conversation that prompted this article descended into absolute foolishness about a Queen of SVG and one in England. I did not hear the conversation and wasn’t sure what that meant. The last time I knew it, SVG was no longer a colony of England. It is an independent country. The Commonwealth, made up of former colonies of Britain, came into being in 1949 when a decision was made to maintain ties of friendship and cooperation and to acknowledge the British Monarch as Head of State, Not as Queen of State! So, what is this nonsense about a Queen of SVG? There are so many important issues critical to our development that demand our attention. Instead we spend time on sheer foolishness, defending the indefensible!
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian