NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas National Reparations Committee released a statement yesterday taking issue with the government’s sponsorship of the royal visit, and reaffirming calls for a full and formal apology from the British Royal Family as the first step in a pathway to reparations for crimes of genocide of indigenous peoples and slavery.
The official royal visit, slated for March 24-26, will see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge represent Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, as part of celebrations to mark her Platinum Jubilee.
The government will share the cost of the upcoming royal visit with the Sovereign Grant and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
The government will foot the bill for accommodation, and third-party costs for cultural events it wishes to showcase.
Here is the full statement:
To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign on the throne of England, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit the Bahamas from March 24 – March 26, 2022. During the course of their trip they will experience a grand cultural showcase in New Providence, witness the devastation of Hurricane Dorian firsthand in Abaco, and visit award-winning coral farms in
There is no doubt that the Organizing Committee have done a stellar job in accommodating the British Royal Family, and by many standards this trip to accommodate the Royal family will be seen as a resounding success. However, once William and Kate have passed over the newly paved roads, driven by the freshly painted walls, and waved to the schoolchildren who have been pulled out of their classes to stand and watch them go by, what will the Bahamian people be left with?
We, the members of the Bahamas National Reparations Committee (BNRC), recognize that the people of The Bahamas have been left holding the bag for much of the cost of this extravagant trip. Why are we footing the bill for the benefit of a regime whose rise to “greatness” was fueled by the extinction, enslavement, colonization, and degradation of the people of this land? Why are we being made to pay again?
This visit commemorates 70 years since Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne of imperialism – more years than The Bahamas has been a sovereign nation. The BNRC asserts that we as Bahamians must have a clear understanding of what this trip truly means. We are not beholden to the British monarchy in any way and we do not owe them a debt of gratitude for anything – not for our culture, religion, or system of governance. Instead, the monarchy has looted and pillaged our land and our people for centuries, leaving us struggling with under-development, left to pick up the pieces.
In the words of Sir Hilary Beckles, Chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, colonialism was devastating, and we are tired of footing the bill. We are tired of paying literally with our lives for the maintenance of a paradigm in which we were exploited so others could be exalted. It is time now for reparatory justice. The time is now for reparations.
The CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) is a regional body created to establish the moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of Reparations by the Governments of all the former colonial powers and the relevant institutions of those countries, to the nations and people of the Caribbean Community for the Crimes against Humanity of Native Genocide, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and a racialized system of chattel slavery.
In 2013 The Bahamas became a Member-State of the Commission and established the BNRC, which affirms the Commission’s 10-Point Reparations Plan. The first point of this Plan is for governments of Europe to offer a FULL AND FORMAL APOLOGY for their crimes against humanity.
The Duke and Duchess may not be compelled to make such a declaration during their visit to our shores. They may not be able at this time to speak on behalf of the Queen and their Government at this time. However, they can no longer ignore the devastation of their heritage.
They and their family of Royals and their Government must acknowledge that their diverse economy was built on the backs of our ancestors. And then, they must pay. As God and the Ancestors would have it, this royal visit to The Bahamas falls squarely on the 15th anniversary of the United Nations’ International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, March 25.
We, the children of those victims, owe it to our ancestors to remember. We owe it to our ancestors to demand a reckoning and to demand accountability, healing, and justice. In the words of our great Tony McKay, also known as Exuma the Obeah Man, they must:
Pay me for my blood in the water
Pay me for my son and my daughter
Pay me for my brothers and sisters
Pay me for all of my dead
Pay me for the blood that you shed
Pay me what you owe me
I come to collect everything that you owe me.