Sat | Dec 10, 2016

May God not save the Queen

Published:Tuesday | March 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Bert Samuels

The Reverend Devon Dick's call for the renaming of King's House to Bogle House as an appropriate historical gesture would be "largely significant and appropriate that the similar house to which Bogle was denied access be named in his honour".

No one should be surprised that the Baptist minister is ahead of us on the significance of asserting this tribute to us as African Jamaicans. The year 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the Morant Bay massacre and hence is a serious and significant remembrance issue for the pulpit of the Baptists, as it should be for us all.

As an attorney, I have appeared in the Morant Bay courthouse. This supposed house of fair play was the stage on which Bogle protested injustice on behalf of our foreparents in the court system. At this crime scene, in that very courthouse, educated judges, lawyers and police officers opened the court with "God save the queen", the very queen who appointed the governor who presided over the hanging of hundreds of our foreparents 150 years ago!

We make mockery of the massacre of our people when we commence the day's work in our courts asking God to save the descendant of the very queen who presided over the massacre. Can we imagine, following on the uprising in St Thomas, the kind of trial for murder our great-great-grandparents were subjected (sic) to? Justice was suspended before they were roped on the gallows followed by the weeping and wailing.

The English monarchy has a history here that is rooted in exploitation and racial apartheid. Paradoxically, we have, notwithstanding this sad history, placed the very same monarchy on a pedestal.

The Queen of England is the head of our Parliament. "There shall be a Parliament of Jamaica which shall consist of Her Majesty, a Senate and a House of Representatives," says Section 34 of our Constitution and we have at Section 68 shamefully maintained that "executive authority of Jamaica is vested in Her Majesty", the Queen of England.

We have found time for all else but setting our history right and prohibiting the opening of our courts to dispense justice with "God save the Queen", whose representative hanged Bogle when all he did was to rebel against injustice

The Apostle Paul, whose teachings Deacon Paul Bogle studied, would revolt should he be compelled to pay homage to a foreign queen. St Paul asserted his national pride as a Roman when an unjust court ordered him to be flogged to compel him to confess. Like our Deacon Paul, he would have none of this injustice meted out to him. He questioned the legitimacy of the court's ruling when, in the Book of Acts 22:24 (NIV), he said, "Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn't even been found guilty?"

It cannot be right to compel African Jamaicans to leave themselves out of the picture entirely and daily commence their court proceedings with "God save the Queen".

 

righting the wrongs of the past

 

We should heed Rev Dick's call to right the wrongs of the past in a real way. King's House? Whose King? Not ours or Bogle's, who, in search of peaceful resolution of his people's suffering, walked 41 miles to meet upon a closed King's House door. The Constitution of Jamaica is laced with this foreign sovereign's footprint, whose misplaced status haunts the bones of those who suffered death 150 years ago!

The year 2015 is too long a time after the uncorrected atrocities have been heaped on our people for us not to do the right thing and purge from our present the horrible sins of the past. Like the supporters of Bogle said when they took to action, we must not be timid to, with pride, "cleave to the black"!

Long live the heroic struggles of the victims of the Morant Bay massacre. May we cease paying tributes to their slaughterers and commence building befitting monuments and tributes to their lasting memory.

- Bert Samuels is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and bert.samuels@gmail.com.