Every so often we are reminded of how much we still remain a victim of revisionist history. That history has landed us in a contradiction of sorts. Only by our own efforts, and becoming the masters of our destiny can we liberate ourselves from the obscurities of the past. However, this can only be done, not through higher education, but through the raising of our consciousness to the point where we realise that we must become the instruments of our own liberation.
As a country and a people we are simply not there yet, and neither do we seem conscious enough to realise that. Our present generation of leaders, unlike their predecessors, are seemingly oblivious of their mission to take and maintain, in their own hands, the true meaning of independence. The spirit which once defined our consciousness in the anti-colonial struggles leading up to Independence, and in the first two decades thereafter, has all but disappeared. We no longer proclaim as axiomatic the notion of equality and self-reliance as touchstones to national development.
The American historian and professor of Pan-African and Africana Studies, John Henrik Clarke, asserted that “to control a people you must first control what they think about themselves and how they regard their history and culture.” That quote is quite relatable to Garvey’s teaching that “a people without knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.”
Jamaica, as a post-colonial society, after 60 years of Independence, would not be demonstrating the true meaning of that Independence if we continue to tie our history, culture, and origins to the advent of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and all the symbols and observances associated with that sordid past. For the benefit of the colonisers that’s where the education, symbols, and cultural sensibilities which shaped the way we think, act and believe originated. Our social consciousness over several generations, and through physical, emotional and psychological abuse would have been conditioned in the crucible of a dehumanising and traumatic experience; and along with it a period of historical provenance, which made African civilization seen as inferior.
The Sierre Leonian social scientist and professor emeritus at Ohio State University, Magbaily Fyle, noted that this resulted in the “denial of Africans’ contribution to history and human progress…”
This appears to be the only logical explanation for venerating the very symbols and observances which have been imposed upon us by British colonialism, not to advance our material conditions, not to help us on the road to development, nor achieve the goals of prosperity, but to keep us in mental bondage and subjugation. This is why we extirpate Africa’s contribution to human civilisation, and see no value or meaning to the earlier post-colonial nationalisation struggle for our emancipation from mental slavery.
It explains the belief why Republican status could be viewed as ‘empty symbolism’, and why the debate about removing a meaningless, historically oppressive symbol, represented by the Monarchy, has fallen off the order paper in Her Majesty’s House of Representatives.
If it is even because the legacy of the British monarchy stinks with the “Black Holocaust”, and remains a blot on the conscience of mankind, it should be removed. For every day that it remains, it should be a reminder of the powerful effect of colonial tutelage in constructing a narrative that has trapped contemporary leaders into a delusionment of Independence and paradoxically what it takes to free us from the mental bondage we know not of.