Wel­come, Mis­ter Harry Wales: The Visit Of The Priv­i­leged

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL - By Dor­brene E. O’marde

We wel­come you Henry Charles Albert David aka Prince Henry of Wales or per­haps more pop­u­larly, Prince Harry. We un­der­stand that you do not have a sur­name, but as a mem­ber of the House of Wind­sor, you oc­ca­sion­ally re­fer to your­self as Harry Wales. We hope you will al­low us to fol­low your dic­tates.

We do not rec­og­nize the ac­ces­sion to spe­cial priv­i­leges of any­one sim­ply on the na­ture of his or her birth. We wel­come you as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the gov­er­nance of the United King­dom, a country with which we have had a four hun­dred year re­la­tion­ships – alas – cat­e­go­rized by the en­slave­ment and colo­nial dom­i­na­tion of our an­ces­tors. We wel­come you to An­tigua and Bar­buda, a country that main­tains cor­dial re­la­tion­ships with the United King­dom, but one that rec­og­nizes fully the crimes against hu­man­ity that your peo­ple have com­mit­ted against us.

We urge you Mr. Wales, that you note the hu­man joy on the faces of the chil­dren. Our econ­omy is based on tourism and I am sure that your itin­er­ary in­cludes travel and vis­its to many of our de­vel­oped sites. We think it is im­por­tant that you note the amaz­ing con­trasts be­tween what ex­ists now and the con­di­tions your peo­ple and country left here less than fifty years ago. We hope also that you will be ex­posed to the chal­lenges we con­tinue to face in the de­liv­ery of health, ed­u­ca­tion and other so­cial ser­vices, the ab­sence of cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions that can lead his­tor­i­cal knowl­edge pro­grammes, the crip­pling na­tional debt in­curred to of­fer our peo­ple a bet­ter life than the one to which your Gov­ern­ment and peo­ple con­demned us. We hope that you take some time to ex­plore with us the lega­cies of slav­ery and colo­nial­ism that con­tinue to thwart ‘our ef­forts at sus­tain­able eco­nomic devel­op­ment and the psy­cho­log­i­cal and cul­tural re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of our peo­ple’.

In Jan­uary of this year, the Prime Min­is­ter of Bar­ba­dos, act­ing in his role as Chair­man of the Caribbean Com­mu­nity (CARI­COM) Prime Min­is­te­rial Sub-Com­mit­tee on Repa­ra­tions, in­vited your for­mer Prime Min­is­ter, David Cameron and his Gov­ern­ment to meet with CARI­COM ‘in or­der to dis­cuss how best we may am­i­ca­bly ex­change views on repa­ra­tions with the frame­work es­tab­lished by the United Na­tions which called on the de­vel­oped world to ‘ac­knowl­edge and pro­foundly re­gret ‘the un­told suf­fer­ing and evils in­flicted on mil­lions of men, women and chil­dren as a re­sult of slav­ery, the slave trade, the transat­lantic slave trade, colo­nial­ism, apartheid, geno­cide and past tragedies’ and fur­ther to ‘find some way to con­trib­ute to the restora­tion of the dig­nity of the victims.’

Four months later in April, for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Cameron re­sponded that ‘this is not the time to make amends for the past…but we need to con­cen­trate on build­ing for the fu­ture and iden­ti­fy­ing ways we can work to­gether to tackle the shared global chal­lenges that face our coun­tries in the 21st cen­tury’.

Mr. Wales…the irony is not lost among us as this is the same Prime Min­is­ter of your country that in 2014 called on the Bri­tish ‘to do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to make sure that the mem­ory of the Nazi holo­caust is pre­served from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion’ while in­creas­ing the UK fund­ing for the holo­caust Ed­u­ca­tion Trust by an ex­tra three hun­dred thou­sand pounds per an­num and an­nounc­ing the ap­point­ment of a new na­tional holo­caust Com­mis­sion which will set up a per­ma­nent holo­caust me­mo­rial in Bri­tain. We sim­ply ask the ques­tion… ’are African peo­ple and their de­scen­dants in the Caribbean not wor­thy of the dig­nity ex­pressed through repa­ra­tions to Is­raelis/Jews, Ja­panese Amer­i­cans, Na­tive Amer­i­can In­di­ans, The Al­lies of World War ll, Pol­ish slave la­bor­ers, The Canadian Eski­mos, the Aus­tralian Abo­rig­ines, the New Zealand Maoris and a host of oth­ers who have been com­pen­sated for crimes com­mit­ted against them?’

The An­tigua and Bar­buda Repa­ra­tions Sup­port Com­mis­sion (ABRSC, which I am Chair­man of, high­lights the fact that the African is the only wronged race that has not re­ceived even an apol­ogy from those who com­mit­ted the most bru­tal crimes against us. We hold that Repa­ra­tion is not only about com­pen­sa­tion for lost labour. The in­jury to Africa and African peo­ples was the com­pre­hen­sive de­struc­tion of hu­man lives, hu­man cul­tures and hu­man pos­si­bil­i­ties. ABRSC sees the Repa­ra­tions Move­ment as ‘a com­pre­hen­sive moral, le­gal and po­lit­i­cal re­sponse to the crimes against hu­man­ity com­mit­ted dur­ing en­slave­ment and colo­nial­ism’. In con­cert with the Caribbean Repa­ra­tions Com­mis­sion, we it­er­ate that Repa­ra­tion is the sin­gu­larly most im­por­tant in­ter­ven­tion to en­able our tack­ling of present global chal­lenges.

In this re­gard, we call on you Sir to be mind­ful of the fact that your country and peo­ple ex­tracted more wealth from our en­slave­ment and col­o­niza­tion than any other. We call on you to com­mu­ni­cate these facts to those in your country al­ready aware of its re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­mote hu­man rights and make amends for crime com­mit­ted against hu­man­ity. We call on you to urge them to rise with us, in the in­ter­ests of hu­man dig­nity and the fu­ture, to a com­mit­ment to repara­tory jus­tice.

Your visit will be his­tor­i­cally deemed a suc­cess if your in­ter­ven­tions en­able the firm place­ment of the is­sue of repa­ra­tions on the agenda of the United King­dom. Oth­er­wise, it will be con­demned as sim­ply an­other paid hol­i­day jaunt of a de­scen­dant of a priv­i­leged Bri­tish class con­tin­u­ing to wal­low in the spoils of the Euro­pean ‘eco­nomic pow­er­house’ cre­ated by the blood and labour of African peo­ples and their de­scen­dants. Ed­i­tor’s note: Prince Harry ar­rived in Saint Lu­cia on Thurs­day and left this morn­ing.

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