Jamaican politicians want Britain to recognize its harsh past

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While paying tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday, Jamaica’s opposition spokesperson on foreign affairs, Lisa Hanna, renewed a call by former colonies for Britain to confront its colonial atrocities and make reparations for slavery and its repercussions.

She was among several politicians who paid tribute in the House of Representatives.

“We would like to see Britain perhaps face up to the legacy of some of its participation in this reality and acknowledge its history and the consequences thereof and begin to take some concrete steps to rectify it. As the world watches keenly, King Charles and the new Prime Minister Truss take the reins of the country. They have a unique opportunity to courageously redefine Britain’s image into action — not with what we call a bag of mouth with outdated platitudes intended to make people momentarily feel nice, but with real action,” Hanna stated.

She asserted that Britain’s authorities must recognize that the country’s approach to its past has been and continues to be misaligned with current expectations of their former colonies.

Lisa Hanna declared that “Time moves faster today, much quicker than it did in 1953 when Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne. It is time to correct their historical wrongs by resetting their political, economic, and social systems for future generations — if not, we in Jamaica will only watch that country walk alone, backward into the future, with its leaders’ eyes closed.

St Catherine Southern Member of Parliament Fitz Jackson, in his contribution to the tributes on Tuesday, said some uncomfortable truths must be acknowledged.

“We don’t like to talk about them, but they are truths nonetheless, and if we close our eyes and ears to them, they don’t go away. Seventy years of the queen’s reign, 60 of those were during our independence, and ten were during our colonial past. What happened during that period by the State presided over by the governments of the time is a fact, not an opinion. We can’t pretend it never happened and sweep it under the carpet because it’s convenient so to do, and it’s not so pleasant,” Jackson said.

The remains of Britain’s past, according to Jackson, cannot be denied.

“The best way to deal with an unfortunate past is to face it, acknowledge it, and at the very least — if you sincerely believe it’s wrong — to make a humble apology for that wrong,” he said.

On the eve of Jamaica’s 57th anniversary of independence celebrations, Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s culture minister, said Britain should apologize for the atrocities of the transatlantic trade in Africans and the resulting socioeconomic problem that continues to afflict the region along with its people.

Minister Grange expressed in a video address made at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between The University of the West Indies and Glasgow University for the establishment of the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research that Britain should apologize to make things right.

“Britain has an obligation to apologize to the Caribbean people. It must restore the harm done to a region whose forefathers were brutalized in the slave trade,” she said.

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