Moving towards true independence
THE EDITOR, Sir: THE MEMBERS of the Rotary Club of St Andrew voted unanimously on October 23, 2016 to remove the Toast to the Queen from its formal meeting proceedings. This is a significant change for a club that celebrated its 50th anniversary on September 8, 2016. The Toast to the Queen and the singing of the Jamaica National Anthem were entrenched in the club’s constitution.
The decision of the club to remove the Toast to the Queen may have been brought on by the failure of the club to secure audience with the governor general after two unsuccessful attempts. “How can we toast the Queen when her representative is not willing to meet with us?” asked one member.
This development now highlights an age-old debate: whether we should remove the governor general as the head of state in Jamaica. Jamaica received its independence from Britain 54 years ago, and it is very ironic that the governor general is still our head of state. It is also very important to note that our final judicial court is still in the hands of our colonial master, and we all need a visa to have our cases heard.
Not long ago, we had the annual celebrations of Independence Day and National Heroes Day; it is now full time that the Jamaican people ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk’ of a truly independent nation and continue the work and the fight of our heroes. While Jamaica’s independence is relatively young compared to, say, the USA, enough time has certainly elapsed for us to effect further incremental changes. Trinidad and Tobago was able the sever ties with the Queen 14 years after receiving its independence in 1962.
It is interesting to note that only a few months ago Britain voted to leave the European Union; a decision that shocked the world. It is time for us to remove the shackles of our colonial past and move towards a truly independent nation. The Queen as head of state and the Privy Council as our final judicial court are not merely symbolic institutions, “for as a man thinketh so is he”. How do we truly view our independence? KEMMEHI LOZER Vice-President Rotary Club of St Andrew firstname.lastname@example.org