There is an issue which for sometime has been a rather vexing one for me and that is the issue of the face of the Queen of England still being affixed to our Eastern Caribbean Dollar. For many centuries, a life of subjugation and oppression under the rule of Britain was commonplace in this part of the world, until our forefathers fought valiantly and vehemently to remove the yoke of colonialism from the necks of our ancestors. However, while it is patently clear that the physical aspect of colonialism has long since been eradicated, I am still somewhat apprehensive when it comes to the mentality and collective consciousness of our people. Now I have nothing personal against the Queen and I”m sure that she’s a nice old lady. However, I do believe that the Queen has served her time, in so far as it relates to our social and political life. I am yet to comprehend how she has contributed to improving the lives of our citizens and I am still pondering as to how she has meaningfully contributed to the development of our country and the region. Yet, her face continues to adorn the EC Dollar. Regrettably also, she still remains the official Head of State of our country. Consequently, we are supposed to be outraged when a foreign ambassador places a hand on the “royal hip”Ã¡ la Michelle Obama and we are expected to know our place and stand in awe and admiration of our “Mother the Queen”. The culture of deference centred on the monarchy is a relic of the past that distorts the present. We must develop for our people a future where self-confidence trumps self-contempt and self-doubt. We must continue to augment our independence and sovereignty. What better way than to have the faces of the leaders who impacted so richly on the tapestry of the OECS islands placed on our EC Dollar – a symbol of the economic and social development of our countries? Leaders like Robert Bradshaw, Vere Bird, John Compton, Eugenia Charles and Maurice Bishop come to mind. These are the towering figures in the region’s economic and social development. They have been pillars of the regional integration movement and it is their commitment that gave birth to and shaped the current form of the OECS. I can only imagine the sense of pride and joy that my friends in Barbados feel when they take out a BDS $100 or $50 and see the faces of the Right Excellent Grantley Adams and the Right Excellent Errol Barrow. I can only begin to fathom the sense of ecstasy and elation that my comrades in Jamaica exude when they go to the bank to withdraw money and see the face of their national heroes such as Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley. It is in this vein that I ask myself, why hasn’t such a move been forthcoming in the OECS? Are we at a lost for heroes and men of similar significance? Certainly, this can’t be the case. It burns my eyes and pierces my heart whenever I take out a twenty dollar bill only to see the Queen of England staring back at me. The issue is really one about identity and dignity because while it will not feed or clothe us nor bring us to better economic straits, it will do the same thing as renaming a landmark feature in our country after one of our heroes. It’s why we treasure our flag or our national anthem. It helps to define us as a people and as a country! Many of us often wonder why America is such a proud nation, arguably the proudest in the world. It’s because they have a total authentic identity that is based on a fierce nationalism and independence. Once they attained self-rule they ensured that all the symbols and institutions that their people were required to conform to were truly their own. Why not St. Kitts and Nevis? Why not the rest of the OECS? There seems to be a prevailing school of thought that maintaining the Queen in our social and political life is necessary for the preservation of ties with the Commonwealth. However, I am firmly of the belief that such an argument is neither cogent nor compelling! Both Trinidad & Tobago and Dominica went as far as to break away completely from the monarchy over 30 years ago and I can’t pinpoint any way how they have suffered as a result of that decision. Moreover, I can’t identify any benefits that have been accrued by the other OECS member states that maintain this infatuation with the Queen. Many people may not see this as important but if we are to inspire our people, particularly our youth, and help them to understand the struggle of those who came before them, then we must constantly seek new and innovative ways of honouring our own. We must continue to stamp out all remnants of our colonial past and as the late great Bob Marley so aptly said, “Emancipate ourselves from mental slavery!”While others might free the body, none but ourselves can free our mind. It is imperative therefore, that our symbols and institutions do not remain riveted in the times of yore but instead, reflect the aspirations and achievements of our people! It is against this backdrop that I beckon the Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis and his colleague Heads of Government in the OECS to act hastily on the issue of having the face of the stalwarts of the integration movement in the region grace our currency. Let us end this seemingly infatuation with the Queen so that we can advance the process of national identification and regional integration!!! HONOUR OUR OWN!!!!
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