By Alred Frett, Contributor
Only the lazy and misinformed celebrate before the mission is accomplished.
Time is running out. We are still in the midst of recovery efforts and this is hardly the time to indulge in national holidays, which we cannot afford and only serve to push us backwards rather than forward.
Just a week ago, we did HLS holiday and we are now called on to celebrate Commonwealth Day. While persons appear quick to welcome these non-productive events, few know their basic origin or meaning.
Such lack of knowledge is inexcusable at a time when information can be acquired from internet sites like Wikipedia, British Empire, and Historiography of the British Empire, etcetera. Furthermore, there are BVIslanders designated as ‘Orders’ and ‘Members’ of this British Empire, so they should at least be able to give an accounting of facts surrounding Commonwealth before having our toddlers involved.
Our education system should also participate in making this information a priority. But this appears not to be forthcoming and infants are already being marshalled to perform in ignorance. That makes it of national interest where each of us should use every opportunity to enlighten these children before it’s too late. Furthermore, if enlightening Children also enlightens Adults that makes it doubly beneficial.
The Commonwealth in a nutshell
The Commonwealth or Commonwealth of Nations is an intergovernmental body comprised of some 53 member states most being former territories of the British Empire. The organisation dates back to the decolonization of the British Empire through increased self-governance of its territories and was formalized by the London Declaration in 1949. This established member states as “free and equal”.
While language, history, free speech, human rights, as well as rule of law, culture, and, their shared values of democracy unite members; they have no legal obligation to one another. Their symbol of free association is Queen Elizabeth ll who is regarded as the Head of the Commonwealth – a ceremonial role that brings her no additional ability to affect the authority of any member state.
It should be noted that initially it was required that members of the Commonwealth recognize this Queen as their Monarch but that has changed and when the monarch dies, the successor to the crown does not automatically become head of the Commonwealth. In 1961 it was decided that respect for racial equality would be a requirement for membership – this led to the withdrawal of South Africa.
Supporting ambitions that can greatly improve the world
In 1971, Singapore Declaration of the Commonwealth’s objectives included a commitment to world peace, representative democracy, individual liberty, equality, opposition to racism, free trade and the fight against poverty, ignorance, and disease.
However, between then and now, it has been necessary for these objectives to be repeated and expanded as noncompliance became evident.
Case in point, up until the 1991 Harare Declaration, Singapore Declaration’s objectives such as the completion of decolonization, ending the Cold War and ending Apartheid in South Africa had remained undone.
Between 1991 and 2003 their list of priorities included promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, gender equality, economics, education, law, sustainability, and youth.
Bearing in mind that the Commonwealth followed slavery and World War ll, it became a universal hope for liberty, freedom and progress in countries that had been domineered under UK’s rule of white’s might is always right.
As a lobbyist or pressure group, these Commonwealth objectives are laudable and should be the lifelong ambition of all citizens and a daily goal of all good governments.
If they lose face then we lose grace
Unfortunately, dreams fade and promise pales when time after time we see ordinary citizens denied meaningful results. Member states and the organization become accused of not standing up for its core values and allegations have surfaced where leaders and secretary generals of Commonwealth are accused of dereliction of duties and instructing staff to stay silent on human rights abuses.
This worsens when a former British Foreign Secretary feels it necessary to remind member states that the Commonwealth is not a private club for government leaders or secretariats but an organisation created to serve the people.
He further accused them of having their usefulness and relevance eroded by a lack of commitment to enforcing the objectives and values for which they claim to stand.
Delivering our children from evil
I too strongly support the Commonwealth’s objectives but cannot support having our little children march in ignorance when their parents appear oblivious to the fact that we still face the same old problems that they are likely to inherit.
Even today we see too many leaders within and without the group quick to punish us for standing up for truth and speaking out against the wrongs they know.
Our territory may be small but we are a special people with BVI and UK citizenships which makes us double Commonwealth citizens with a double obligation to stand up and speak out until wrongs have been righted. And, there should be no doubt that doing nothing solves nothing and the gold in our silence is only for the wicked who will see this as their tacit consent and excuse to use and abuse us.
I strongly believe that the Commonwealth can be a catalyst and deliverer but we must demand fulfilment from our leaders and if our children are called on to march then let them know the facts and objectives for which they march or the blind can lead the blind and the only question is ‘where?’.
Good things are worth fighting for and few things happen overnight.
Not all laws are good. Slavery was a law but even when we were out of slavery we were still enslaved and it took over 30 years for the Commonwealth to overcome South Africa’s racist government. They thought it was over but today, world leaders still openly practice racism and oppression and suppression continues – so must our struggles continue for now. It is not the time to rest.
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