It has been very interesting reading several comments on the small protest that was held on Harry’s visit to the Commonwealth War graves yesterday. I found it both amazing and slightly disturbing that four protesters were able to incite such widespread condemnation from the same people we were trying to stand up for. For those who think that the protest was some “attention grabbing act,” yes, yes it was. We made the unpopular decision to protest against a monarchy that encouraged the marginalisation of our people and we did it where we knew we would get media attention. We did it because people need to be reminded of our history and to be reminded that the effects of colonisation still lingers on. This fierce ethnic divide we have here, yeah, thank the crown Harry represents for that.
There are so many things I want to say about the majority of Guyanese and their colonial mentalities which insist that they must grovel at the feet of Massa’s offspring’s and protect their empire from accountability because we like our histories rewritten and whitewashed-but I won’t.
What I want to do is address this misconception we seem to have that in order to move forward, we must not look back.While I understand that there is the desire to move on from the dehumanization and commoditization committed against us by the British Empire, it is extremely narrow minded to believe that the past does not shape our future and that its effects are not lasting. To quote William Faulkner in Requiem to a nun, “the past is never dead; it is not even past.” Demanding an apology is not holding unto the past, it is asking to be shown a bit of human decency that was not afforded to our foreparents and to let us know that their lives are just not remembered in terms of dollars and cents. I will not even broach the subject of reparations, another post for another time, because there can never be an amount suitable enough to cleanse centuries of suffering.
While I understand that an apology will not automatically (or ever) heal old wounds; it is a steppingstone we can work from to help us get over our histories. One cannot continue hiding under the excuse that slavery was at the time legal and that it was very long ago. Not because something was/is legal means that it should happen and not because something happened long ago means that its horrors should not be addressed and accounted for.
To be clear, this has absolutely nothing to do with Harry nor Elizabeth as individuals, this has to do with an empire which plundered and stunted growth in our countries and islands and are yet to apologize for its role in it. It matters not who was or was not born, you are a representative of a system that stifled us for centuries and your refusal to even address it shows us what we really mean.
I went into the protest fully aware that the chances of actually getting an apology approached the chances of zero, but protesting is not always about getting what you want as that is largely ideological- it is about making statements and letting them know that we may be few, but we are here and we will not be silent. For those of you who considered the protest action and the protesters to be “an embarrassment” to the country, I am perfectly okay with that label. I would rather be a pariah than to sit by idly and wave, smile and fawn over a man whose family’s legacy was strengthened off of the back of my people.
*Nalini Mohabir, Kevin Brice, Jermain Ostiana and Robert Jones, thank you guys for initiating this protest. #notmyprince