Reprinted from a previous issue I love St. Kitts. It is where I have lived for all of my life. When I was eighteen, my mother offered to mortgage her house to raise the passage to Britain. I was surprised at her obvious relief at my steadfast refusal, but she explained that she made the offer because she thought I might have felt badly to see my schoolmates trekking off by droves and would have wanted to join them in this strange cold country. My mother explained that she had the same dillema when she was young and I was an infant. She had offers to join her friends in Bermuda, New York and the Netherland Antilles. She was tempted but refused because she did not want to leave her child with anyone. She wanted to raise me herself and so she opted to stay here. When she made me that gallant offer, I did not have any children yet but in a curious sort of way, the children which I did not yet have were a part of the reason why I did not wish to live in Britain. I was scared of getting children in Britain. I could not perceive what my children would be like or how they would cope if I had prescribed for them the fate of Black Britons. When I was 18 I developed some very strange notions about being Black. I was a pupil teacher then at the St. Peters” Government school, and having developed an interest in reading, I drifted into the bookshop of Mr. Charles Halbert. Mr. Halbert was the kind of bookseller who would not let you enter his bookstore, buy a book and leave, especially if you were a black young man and looked a little intelligent. His discovery that I was a young teacher was the launching pad into a one-sided conversation about Africa about Julius Nyere and Kwame Nkrumah. He fretted about Black Africa and I listened. Before I left he gave me a little book on George W. Carver, which started my romance with the African continent, the Black American community and the Black Caribbean. The first time I got close to Robert Bradshaw was one Wednesday morning at the Public Market, the year when King George the Sixth died. We were standing side by side offering to buy mutton from Mr. Adams, the butcher. When Mr. Adams lifted his head and saw Bradshaw he began to lament what he thought was the poor response to the death announcement of the British monarch. I was struck by Mr. Bradshaw’s somewhat indifferent response to Mr. Adams as Mr. Adams kept on with his criticism of the outpouring of public grief which compared very unfavorably with 1935 when King George the Fifth had died. Mr. Bradshaw’s off-handed respouse was simply: “Well, it’s their king, you know”. I was sure that Mr. Adams was surprised by Mr. Bradshaw’s heavy emphasis on their king, which gave me the impression that he did not care much about royalty. In those days the only national anthem we knew was: God save our gracious King, Long live our noble King, God gave the King! Send him victorious, Happy and glorious, Long to reign over us, God save the King! “”””” The songs we sang in school were about various parts of Britain ” the rivers, the hills, the palaces. The poems we learnt were similar. It was amazing how British Kittitians were when the young Queen Elizabeth the Second became the Monarch of the British Empire, which was gradually evolving into the British Commwealth. Mr. Bradshaw’s attitude was a reflection of the developing mind of Caribbean Black people of the 1940s. The development began years before he became a leader, and was rooted in the principles of Marcus Garvey, that great Black visionary whose teaching raised the self-esteem of black people in the United States and the Caribbean. Garveyism inspired the masses of the thirties led by Matthew Sebastian and Joseph Nathan. It inspired F.W. Christopher, war veteran, head teacher and then Inspector of Schools. It also inspired Samuel Benjamin Jones, Black scientist and medical doctor, a great man who was dedicated to the poor people of St. Kitts. Both Inspector Christopher and Dr. Jones took the message of Marcus Garvey to schools around St. Kitts, sensitizing young teachers as well as their pupils to the notion of Blackness and Caribbean-ness. Thanks to these wise and brave Black leaders St. Kitts had developed a mentality which was predominantly Caribbean. My question therefore is: Why do we have a queen? A queen who is white; a queen who lives in far away Britain. Why do Kittitians think it necessary to pay homage to a White British queen? Why do the politicians whom we elect and pay to administer our country have to swear allegiance to the White British queen before they attend to the task of running our country of black people? Where is the logic? For an entire century ” 1834-1934 ” the Black people of St. Kitts, like those of the rest of the British West Indies, were oppressed by British rule and neglected by the British puppets who were appointed to administer these islands. All through these years the British response to any Black awakening was either to jail the Black leaders or send the Royal Navy to shoot them. We should be glad to put the British experience behind as and aggressively develop our own institutions and cultures. We have developed our own Caribbean style. We eat Caribbean food and to a large extent we have discarded the outlandish dressing in favour of our own sunshine-friendly attire. We have our own Caribbean education system, which caters to the spectrum from day care centres to the highest university qualifications. There is so much Caribbeanness in our people that it is hard to understand why a leader whom we elect to serve us must first swear allegiance to Elizabeth before he could begin to do his duties. It is also difficult to understand why we still want our top official “” our Black Governor General ” to represent the White British queen. It is even more difficult to understand why after designing our own national flag and composing our own national anthem we still feel naked without the shadow of Elizabeth hovering around. There is no logic; it makes no sense.” It is time to be done with Elizabeth. Down with the Queen.
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