The segment, which aired on March 27, has not yet been posted to YouTube. However, it was on Twitter, and a full transcript is available at Scraps From The Loft.
The moments royal tours are made of. The duke and duchess of Cambridge dancing with locals in Belize, a visit officially to mark the queen’s 70 years on the throne, also being dubbed a “charm offensive”, an attempt to persuade Caribbean nations to hang onto the monarchy.
John: “Charm offensive”? Well, it’s certainly one of those things. That looks less like a royal visit and more like “beach barbecue night at sandals Belize” but it’s true that this tour was for two key reasons. First, to celebrate the queen’s 70 years in power, a milestone she’s definitely hit, because she’s absolutely not dead right now. Nope. Don’t do the dates. Don’t do the dates yet. Why would you do that when she’s so obviously fine? But second, this was a clear attempt to try and keep the Commonwealth together, especially as just four months ago, Barbados formally removed the queen as their head of state and, during the same ceremony, recognized Rihanna as a national hero, proving Barbados is currently making all the right decisions. But instead of the fawning coverage the royals no doubt hoped for, this tour has been a disaster.
Not quite the welcome they were hoping for. At one of the first places William and Kate were supposed to visit, protests forced the couple to cancel.
John: Yeah, that was the first stop of day one. Not a great signal for the rest of your trip. It’s like getting to Disney World and immediately being told, “sorry, theme park’s closed to you because your family committed genocide.” That’s going to set a tone for the rest of your time in Orlando. And things didn’t get much better from there. Before they even landed in the Bahamas, the national reparations committee there released a statement, saying, “the time is now for reparations,” ending the letter quoting Bahamian artist Tony Mckay, saying, “I come to collect everything that you owe me.” Which is a devastating way to end a letter. The only thing that could have made it any more devastating is simply adding the word “bitch.” I mean, the “bitch” is implied there. Don’t get me wrong. But it’d be lovely to see it written down. And then there was Jamaica, where things continued going badly. Protestors demanded an apology for the royal family’s role in the slave trade and made some pretty pointed criticisms.
Here’s the segment posted in three parts:
Here's the reparations statement from the Bahamas that Oliver mentioned.
It closed with the words of Bahamian musician, artist, playwright, and author Tony McKay (also known as Exuma):
The Duke and Duchess may not be compelled to make such a declaration during their visit to our shores. They may not be able at this time to speak on behalf of the Queen and their Government at this time. However, they can no longer ignore the devastation of their heritage.
They and their family of Royals and their Government must acknowledge that their diverse economy was built on the backs of our ancestors. And then, they must pay. As God and the Ancestors would have it, this royal visit to The Bahamas falls squarely on the 15th anniversary of the United Nations’ International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, March 25.
We, the children of those victims, owe it to our ancestors to remember. We owe it to our ancestors to demand a reckoning and to demand accountability, healing, and justice. In the words of our great Tony McKay, also known as Exuma the Obeah Man, they must:
Pay me for my blood in the water
Pay me for my son and my daughter
Pay me for my brothers and sisters
Pay me for all of my dead
Pay me for the blood that you shed
Pay me what you owe me
I come to collect everything that you owe me.
Tony McKay’s song:
Democracy Now! also took the time to cover the royal visit, and spoke with Jamaican member of Parliament Lisa Hanna:
There is full transcript of that interview here. Hanna had been accused of “snubbing the duchess” in the British press, which she set straight in an op-ed for The Guardian:
Much fuss has been made of my supposed snub of the Duchess of Cambridge because of a two-second manipulated clip taken out of context. I have nothing but respect for Catherine as a person, and I treated her with that respect and cordiality, as evidenced by many other photos and videos of our interaction. I do not have any quarrel with the duchess herself, the people of the United Kingdom or the government.
The more significant issue at play is the current global reality that our institutions have created over centuries. We all know the history of wars of conquest, slavery, subjugation and colonisation. We all know about the extraction of resources and the exploitation of lands and labour. Sadly, too many of us do not know that it was the slavemasters – not the slaves or their descendants – who received reparations after slavery ended and the plantations collapsed. We know many of these things; and we all know deep in our hearts that these things were, are and always will be wrong.
We in the Caribbean Community (Caricom) are united across our myriad national, political, ethnic and regional differences in the belief that the issue of reparations must be taken seriously. We have studied the topic extensively, held conferences, and written white papers on the need for reparations and how to practically implement such a policy in the 21st-century.
She references the CARICOM 10-Point Plan for Reparations—which you can read here. The plan calls for:
- a full formal apology, as opposed to the mere “statements of regret” that some nations have issued,
- repatriation, insisting that the descendants of more than 10 million Africans, who were abducted from their homes and forcefully transported to the Caribbean as slaves, have a right to return to their ancestors’ homeland,
- an indigenous peoples development programme to rehabilitate survivors of genocide,
- cultural institutions to ensure adequate remembrance of the victims’ suffering,
- support for alleviating the “public health crisis” in the Caribbean, claiming that this world region has the “highest incidence of chronic diseases” as a long-term consequence of “the nutritional experience, emotional brutality and overall stress profiles associated with slavery, genocide and apartheid”,
- support for eradicating illiteracy, as the black and indigenous communities were often denied education,
- an African knowledge programme to teach people of African descent about their roots;
- measures to promote psychological rehabilitation,
- technology transfer for greater access to the world’s science and technology culture and
- debt cancellation to address the “fiscal entrapment” Caribbean governments are struggling with.
This recent news out of Belize from Nadine White, The Independent’s race correspondent, was yet another nail in the colonial coffin:
Since the visit to Belize, the country’s government, led by prime minister, Johnny Briceno, has confirmed that the People’s Constitutional Commission, a new body, will be consulting across the country on the issue of continuing the “decolonisation process”.
Henry Charles Usher, minister for constitutional and political reform, reportedly told Belize’s parliament on Thursday: “Madame Speaker, the decolonisation process is enveloping the Caribbean region.
Statecraft sums up where things stand at present:
Since November, when Barbados attained freedom from the Crown and replaced the Queen with its first President, Sandra Mason, as the head of state, countries across the Caribbean have seen a growing discussion about independence from the Crown.
Before Barbados, Mauritius was the last country to remove the Queen as its head of state, doing so in 1992. In the Caribbean, Guyana did so in 1970, Trinidad and Tobago in 1976, and Dominica in 1978. She remains the head of state in the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Commonwealth comprises of 54 countries. To date, a total of 15 countries continue to be a part of the Commonwealth realm, and officially recognise the Queen as the sovereign. While these countries, including Canada and Australia, are governed by elected representatives, the Crown remains the symbolic head and exercises constitutional duties, such as approving new laws and governments. Meanwhile, out of the remaining Commonwealth countries, five have monarchs, while the rest are republics.
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