Trinidad and Tobago News
Caribbean Links

Ras Tyehimba  
Susan Edwards  
Dr. K Nantambu  
Winford James  
Dr. S Cudjoe  
Raffique Shah  
Terry Joseph  
Bukka Rennie  
Denis Solomon  
Stephen Kangal  
Corey Gilkes  
A.S. Leslie  
Shelagh Simmons  
Guest Writers  

Trinbago Pan  
Nubian School  
Africa Speaks  
Rasta Times  
US Crusade  

Holding on to UK coat tails
Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2005

By George Alleyne,

The determination by many in the Caribbean to fight against full Independence and hold on to Britain's coat tails is an absurdity which is becoming increasingly difficult either to stomach or to explain. Last Saturday, what should have been the penultimate stage on the road to unquestioned Independence for many Caricom States, the inauguration of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the English speaking Caribbean's final Court of Appeal, was little more than a symbolic exercise. That a people, whose long and bitter struggle for freedom began not with Dickinson Bay, but in the slave and indentured labourer revolts of the 19th century, and continued with the social revolutions of the early 20th century, into the 1930s and beyond, should still insist on looking to the Privy Council as the final arbiter on issues Caribbean, pains even as it confuses.

What is ironical is that the only two countries of the English speaking Caribbean whose people have been united on dusting away the shadows of lingering colonialism and have come out unreservedly in favour of the Caribbean Court of Justice have been Guyana and Barbados. Ironic, because Guyana, in 1953, was the last of Britain's Caribbean colonial possessions to seriously challenge the British raj, and Barbados, whose long accepted Britishness and its label of "Little England," had appeared to make it the least of the candidates to break away from the Privy Council, have either done this or will in a matter of weeks.

The hold of Booker Brothers on Guyana's sugar industry and, ipso facto, on Guyana itself had made the South American country appear, along with Barbados and its World War I tag, "Go ahead England, Barbados is behind you" as the most British compliant of the Caribbean lands. But Guyana's famous revolt in 1953 against naked exploitation would lead not long after Independence to that country declaring itself a Republic and instituting its own final Court of Appeal. Barbados, easily the most ordered and disciplined member of the Caribbean Community of Nations, shortly will follow Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana in declaring itself a Republic, finally ridding itself of the absurdity of owing allegiance to the Queen of England. Next month, Barbados will introduce legislation to replace the Privy Council with the CCJ as its final Court of Appeal, and in the process be one giant step ahead of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

While it should have been inconceivable in the 21st century that any Caribbean States would have been looking to the United Kingdom for final guidance on legal matters, or that any should have the English Queen as its Head of State, nonetheless this is the uncomfortable reality. It is a shameful demonstration that many of us perhaps not only refuse to accept that we have reached the age of maturity, but worse acknowledge that we are prepared to proclaim to the world that what is English is superior. It would have been unthinkable for Britain, when finally it broke free of the Roman Empire to have insisted on retaining Rome's legal institution as its final Court of Appeal. Or Spain, having shrugged off Moorish rule to have still looked to the Moors for legal guidance.

Or the Koreas and China to have prostrated themselves before Japanese institutions. Or France, Belgium, Holland and the whole lot of European countries after World War II prostrating themselves before Germany and declaring themselves not fit to adjudicate on judicial matters concerning their citizens. Yet there are many in the English speaking Caribbean who in effect say that they are not ready to have their own sit in judgment of them. Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago secured political Independence in 1962, and together with Barbados which gained Independence in 1966 should be pointing the way to the others with respect to the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Instead, for whatever the reason, many within our island homes tarry. We forget, or affect to forget, the spirit of Bandung, which captivated the Third World in 1955 and beyond, not simply for its philosophy of non-alignment, but its message that Third World nations were capable of being in control of their destiny. And in the sad and shameful process we send signals to our children and our children's children and unto the third and fourth generation that British institutions are far more worthy of salute than the sunlight on the mountaintops of Caribbean freedom.

Email page Send page by E-Mail