December 2, 2021 - 5:47 am

Barbados Becomes A Republic

On Tuesday, at the stroke of the midnight hour, the republic of Barbados was born. The Caribbean Island nation, 55 years after its independence get rid of remnants of colonial rule by separating from Britain - Queen Elizabeth II is no longer the head of the state who is still the queen of 15 other regions including the UK, Australia, Canada and Jamaica, was merely a symbolic  vestige of colonialism. Dame Sandra Mason was elected its first ever president. Barbadian singer Rihanna was declared a national hero.

                            The birth of the republic, 55 years to the day since Barbados declared independence, unclasps almost all the colonial bonds that have kept the tiny Island tied to England since on English ship claimed it for King James I in 1625. With a population of about 285,000, Barbadose is one of the more populous and prosperous Caribbean Islands. Once havily dependent on sugar exports, its economy has diversified into tourism and finance. Today, the new republic faces an economic crisis because of supply lines being disrupted thanks to the pandemic.

                             The declaration of a republic is more than repudiation. The fact that Charles Windsor next in line for the British throne, attended and supported the celebration in Barbados is a sign, hopefully, that the old hurts may be a thing of the past. Barbados will not be the first former colony in the Caribbean to become a republic. Guyana took that step in 1970, less than four years after gaining independence from Britain. Trinidad and Tobago followed suit in 1976 and Dominica in 1978.

                              However, for many in the Caribbean - including in Barbados - and beyond, the inequalities of the colonial past continue to determine their present. The British Royal family, for example made a substantial amount of money from the slave trade. The demand for reparation is based on that reality. The shift may spur discussion of similar proposals in other former British colonies that have Queen Elizabeth as their sovereign, which include Jamaica, Australia, Canada.