By Will Grant, BBC News, Kingston, Jamaica
The proclamation that Jamaica has a new monarch resounds in the port of Kingston, once the heart of the British Empire.
For generations, British royalty and British merchants made their fortunes in Jamaica trading sugar, cocoa, indigo and, of course, slaves through the vast natural harbor of Kingston. In the 19th century, Kingston was one of the most important ports in the Western Hemisphere.
But when the cannon blast announcing Charles III’s accession to the throne died away, Jamaica found itself at a crossroads in its relationship with the monarchy.
Jamaica gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1962, but remained a member of the Commonwealth of Nations with the British monarch as head of state.
“We are moving forward,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness said when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Jamaica earlier this year to coincide with the late Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee.
Prince William, now Crown Prince, wears a white military uniform and rides in his grandmother’s Land Rover decades ago, and Kate Middleton holds the hands of black children through a chain fence. , the Prime Minister issued a stern message during a visit that continued with a lackluster show. The Jamaicans warned the heir to the throne that they wanted to break with their colonial past and become a republic after Barbados.
More than 50% of Jamaicans support moving to a republic, according to a recent poll. The death of Elizabeth II may have accelerated this trend.
“The dialogue resumes. The more we talk, the more Jamaicans wake up,” said Professor Rosalia Hamilton, coordinator of The Advocacy Network, which campaigns for constitutional reform.
“I’m learning a hidden story they didn’t teach me in school,” Professor Hamilton continued, overlooking Kingston Harbor from Port Royal.
“The question to the Jamaican people is ‘Have you made a monarch who is not ready to apologize or make amends, a monarch who is not ready to show regret or accountability, a monarch who does not ‘not ready to begin the process of atonement and justice?’ That’s all.” is”
Last year, King Charles acknowledged in Barbados “the gross atrocities of slavery that have forever tainted our history…” but did not formally apologize to Jamaica. Prince William also expressed his “deep sadness” during his visit to Jamaica.
The ties between Jamaica and the British Royal Family are deep and deeply rooted in the country’s politics, history, institutions and constitution. Although attitudes towards loyalty and being considered a “loyal subject” may have changed, Jamaicans have always had an affection for Queen Elizabeth.
During her last visit in 2002, the Queen inspected a low-income Trenchtown development project in the capital, Kingston. Trenchtown is considered the birthplace of reggae and Prince William visited the same location in March.
Here in Trenchtown, Junior Lincoln is president of Boystown, a Methodist institution for at-risk youth. “I was nine when I came here, so I’ve been here 70 years,” Lincoln laughed.
As we sat in the stands, a fiery match of cricket, arguably the most colonial sport, was unfolding between Boystown and another local team, Kensington.
Lincoln, who was one of the first promoters to bring reggae out of Jamaica, believes that Jamaica will continue to be deeply connected to Britain, not only through constitutional ties, but also through cultural and family.
Remembering playing reggae at London’s Royal Albert Hall and meeting royalty, Lincoln clearly sees the generational conflict on the matter.
“What I know about the royal family is that they value tradition,” Lincoln said. “But young Jamaicans now want independence, because as long as[le monarque]remains head of state, he doesn’t feel like he’s really independent.”
Among the players recuperating in the shadow of a scorching inning in a cricket match is 23-year-old Sanjay Brown. Brown says the only thing Jamaicans this age want to hear from King Charles is an apology.
“A lot of people think they should be compensated with reparations. But that should start with a formal apology. We need apologies based on all the historical mistakes that have happened.”
A few blocks from Boystown, hairstylist Sherika Bourne braids customers’ hair in her garden. A goat was looking for trash in the dump across the street.
Bourne has been a vocal critic of Jamaica’s political corruption (known locally as the “poly trick”) and has stated that he believes constitutional change would make little sense for Jamaica.
“I think it was a mistake for Jamaica to leave the queen in the first place. It’s no better than before independence. Independence doesn’t do anything,” Bourne lamented.
Either way, the issue is growing. Those who want change are pushing for a referendum as soon as possible.
Dr Howard Harvey warns that ‘this is an emotional time for those associated with the Queen and caution should be exercised in making decisions in an emotional state.’
Dr. Harvey has a somewhat unusual experience in Jamaica.
Born in Trenchtown, Harvey grew up in a one-bedroom house with eight siblings and spent his childhood cleaning car windshields. However, through non-traditional professional training, he went on to higher education, earned a doctorate, and became one of Jamaica’s leading teachers of education. In a country with very low social mobility, few people have similar opportunities to escape poverty.
“Instead of just reacting to Barbados’ example, we should do our own research and make an informed decision on what to do next,” he added.
Harvey believes that reforming the education system is the first step for Jamaica to truly shake off its colonial heritage. Although successive Jamaican governments have failed to scale up the kind of technical training he has received, he says an education system that emphasizes technical training is in the best interests of Jamaican youth.
“Systematic is perhaps a strong word,” Harvey said of colonial-era attitudes still present in Jamaican public education.
“But when I and others like me called for change, politicians were unwilling to discuss it.”
“It is important for the young people of Jamaica to know that they have been governed under a certain structure for many years, and that the Queen’s death does not mean that she will perish.”
King of Charles One of the new titles is Head of the Commonwealth. Talks about Jamaica’s future will plague the king, especially as they foreshadow similar moves by other member states.
“I wouldn’t say Jamaica was the first (to become a republic) in the Commonwealth of Nations under King Charles, but I wouldn’t say it would be the last either. I hope the process will begin soon,” Hamilton said. said the professor insisted.
“The prime minister said, ‘We’re going to move on.’ We will ask the Prime Minister to keep his word.”