The conversation on Jamaica removing itself from the supposed shackles and chains of British “rule” and converting to the role of a republic are again front and centre. Personally, I’ve shared my views on the importance of this move and do not hold it as a priority for our ability to move forward as a nation. In my mind, the collective commitment we made at the moment of independence has failed to truly materialise…that of charting our own way forward as a people for generations to come.
I see no reason to blame the British for our failings over the past sixty years, the same way I could not credit them for our great accomplishments. It is always convenient to pass the blame back to them when we are caught in despair, but not a soul shouts their praises for our wins. Why? Because it is obvious we have the ability to ascend the stairs of greatness without needing to bow and salute any foreign group, body, government, institution or monarchy.
Yes, we can argue over whether we can become a republic, but what does it mean today or tomorrow? What great and unforeseen element of magic is supposed to settle and simmer in the psyche of the Jamaican citizen? In fact, what are the positive results expected to be that we have failed to actualise for sixty years?
The main holder of space who is the reminding representation of the British is the Governor General. The idea is to remove him and replace the office with that of a President. I am not sure who this person could possibly be, but is likely to require both the government and opposition to agree on this nonpartisan individual.
That exercise should be a most interesting one, because sadly, our political culture has made us able to assign political colours and leanings to every possible individual ever selected for public life. That is not even what I wonder about with the mere name change.
If the Governor General is now a representative of the King, who will the President report to? Will he or she be in any greater a position of power? Does it mean the President will oversee the Prime Minister and be the man or woman in charge? Will it be yet another episode of what we have come to call mere “figurehead” positions? Will we be moving from having a Governor General to having a President who is a general governor of Jamaica?
Jamaica needs to achieve a lot of things before deciding that republic status should be number one on the agenda. If we fail to understand this, we will simply be a nation that has made changes to the vase, while using the same flowers and water as before. Come to think of it, that is what we have done many times and the result is the same today as before. I guess “feel good” is always more attractive than “do right” when we generally govern.