The Commonwealth, with all pomp and ceremony, has lived its day. And about time | Kenneth Muhammad | Pro IQRA News

The Commonwealth, with all pomp and ceremony, has lived its day.  And about time |  Kenneth Muhammad

 | Pro IQRA News

Pro IQRA News Updates.

sNo doubt Ishi Sunak’s shocking dismissive words last week will come back to haunt him, as they did those of former prime ministers and royals. And he gave a resounding “no” to a request from MP Bill Ribeiro-Addy to apologize and commit to reparative justice for the UK’s barbaric role in slavery.

Any human being who has taken the time to learn and understand the impact of slavery, labor and colonialism would never turn down this invitation.

“Trying to untangle our history is not the way forward,” Sunak told Parliament when the business minister, Olukimi Olufonto “Kemi” Badnoush, nodded forcefully in agreement at his side. Sunak then proceeded to do what most politicians do: contradict themselves or try to “sneaker polish”.

He said the focus should be “understanding our history and all its parts, not running away from it” while doing the opposite: running away from the issue, clinging to its misunderstandings and all its parts. Foolish men who ignore history are always doomed to repeat it.

As we approach King Charles’ coronation, there will undoubtedly be more pressure on Commonwealth membership due to Sunak’s ill-advised remarks, perhaps among the most brutally honest from a British leader. In other words, the UK will not hold reparations talks and never apologize. May the Caribbean Prime Minister’s Subcommittee on Compensation and the Caribbean Compensation Commission (CRC) stop wasting time.

There is no doubt that Caribbean and African leaders will sit erect in their comfort zones as the members of this 56-country burlesque institution continue to lend support to countries decimated by centuries of slavery, labor, and colonialism. By “setback,” I refer to the generational wealth ladder of these displaced people that has been broken forever. Inherited wealth is important. The footprints of slavery, and the dividends it left for generations in the West, still shape our present world.

Recently, Barbados confirmed its decision to remove the Queen from her position as Head of State with Jamaica also indicating its intention to “move forward”. The transition to the Republic finally captured these West Indies.

Faced with all the unresolved issues of Britain’s colonial past – not only in the Caribbean but in former African and Asian colonies as well – what is the Commonwealth’s goal really if it does not deal with the past?

Its original purpose was to achieve economic benefit for members as well as having a collective voice, shared values ​​and principles, and cultural and educational exchange. Some might also argue that it has been a platform for soft power, a bridge between the world’s north and south, a tool for development, and even a symbol of independence.

However, critics have countered that its legacy of colonialism and now neo-colonialism has undermined its legitimacy and relevance, and that it is dominated by a few powerful members, such as the United Kingdom, India and Canada, creating unequal and limited power dynamics. Representation and influence of younger or less influential members

More importantly, the ability of the Commonwealth to tackle critical issues, such as poverty, inequality, corruption and the climate crisis, has been called into question, as it has failed to take concrete action or deliver tangible results.

Membership in the Commonwealth can be costly for some countries, particularly the poorer ones, and the organization’s bureaucracy and administrative processes are slow and inefficient. It is simply a ship of the former colonies, with the former imperial master still at the helm.

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Slavery, missionary, and colonialism were all about corruption, greed, and power. Currently, companies listed on the London Stock Exchange control more than $1 trillion of Africa’s main resources: cobalt, gold, platinum, diamonds, oil and gas, as well as an area of ​​land four times the size of the United Kingdom.

For Britain, the Commonwealth has served very well in defending its preferences: liberal and friendly regimes for natural resource extraction, low corporate tax rates, and an innovative system of tax havens found mostly in other Commonwealth countries. As a result, Africa loses £30 billion more each year than it receives in aid, loans and remittances, while London as the money laundering capital of Europe facilitates global corruption.

In 2014, several Caribbean countries attempted to sue the British government for damages for four centuries of slavery, and Britain used jurisdiction issues arising from the Commonwealth to block the claim.

Those who insist that slavery left no trace of intergenerational injustice, and that this is all ancient history, will serve well to remember the Windrush Scandal. Eventually the UK government, under duress and much anger, met with Caribbean leaders over the wrongful and cruel treatment of the citizens of Windrush and was forced to take a U-turn.

IThe existence of the Commonwealth in 2023 is hard to defend, especially on post-Brexit economic grounds. Philip Murphy, former director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London, called it “an irrelevant institution that descends into imperial amnesia”. Advocates say members can always vote with their feet. that the Commonwealth is ultimately a voluntary organization—unlike, obviously, the Empire—and therefore its members choose to remain. Was it a meaningful choice?

For the majority of members, especially the 32 countries with a population of less than 1.5 million, this is questionable. Having been brought into the globalized economy by empire under conditions only favorable to Britain, and now struggling with rising sea levels, drug trafficking, high crime rates, corruption and the brain drain that characterizes so many small nations, can they really do it on their own now? ? Would a better alternative be the Caribbean joining Africa and Asia in an economic union, or – arguably – the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)?

Only by understanding these truths which are rarely said, can we understand their inappropriateness. The Commonwealth, with all pomp and ceremony, has lived its day. Rishi Sunak, black and brown nodding at the time of his disapproving words, needs to understand what happened to their ancestors under slavery and forced labor on those Caribbean plantations.

Perhaps Oxford University could offer some history lessons to its political graduates. I look forward to seeing many of the leaders of the Commonwealth attend the coronation paying homage to the unapologetic descendant of their former colonizer and imperial overlord.

Kenneth Mohamed is a freelance writer, Caribbean analyst and senior advisor