Author: Jeevan A. Robinson - MNI Media | Date: 18 March 2018
In 1995 a very popular and industrious Indian city that was previously called Bombay was renamed to Mumbai by the Indian government that gained majority rule in that Indian State's Assembly. They wanted the name changed to reflect something more akin to Indian culture and heritage, as they saw the name Bombay as a British colonial identifier, and thus wished for Indian identity to rule the roost in that State, as they looked to develop and empower their people.
All over the world developing nations are seeking to empower their people and their communities; this they are doing by not seeking to deny their colonial past - but as I often state, they recognise it, but are not entrenched in celebrating it.
Now, I have just read through a series of exchanges on Mike Jarvis' wall, where even former Leaders are pushing back against an idea floated to rename this "St Patrick's" celebration to something more Afro-Caribbean focused culturally, and uniquely Montserratian.
I find it somewhat "amazing" (that is the warmest word I can find at this juncture) that it would even be considered a heavy lift to convince developing peoples of African descent and Black identity, to put in place symbols and cultural commemorations that do not uphold a Euro-centric definition of themselves, but rather one that celebrates the Black culture and its forms as equal to and marketable as like the European adaptations we now proliferate.
Do we think India , by their example as expressed earlier, cares about what the past colonials of England think now that they have dropped the name Bombay to Mumbai? Do we think that other ethnicities struggling for identity and development would have such a heavy lift to adopt identifiers that put their people first?
It does not matter that Irish and British helped to end Slavery. Hooray! And yet hoo ha equally! They did yes, and by God they should have much sooner too. But look! Black men and women fought in the many wars the USA embarked upon abroad, yet many of them are treated as unworthy when they return to America. So smoke that analogy in your considerations when thinking that identifying with a Euro-centric past is the modern day glory for the land.
Economic enterprise for the island can, and will thrive even more so than it is doing presently, I do strongly feel, with a reach out to our American Brothers and Sisters to come to Montserrat for a unique Liberation & Emancipation Festival being hosted by that island. Marketing! Planning! Structure! Marketing! Marketing is key! Folks there is a missing link in the American narrative when discussing their deep and painful slave past, and that missing link is the Caribbean connection to the American Black experience. Montserrat has a unique opportunity to capitalise on this. (I will expound more upon this over the coming months with pieces in that vein)
So, to say it is time to consider moving away from the Shamrock; Erin and her Harp; and such things, and thus to see the strong desire by some in positions of influence and authority to hold on to these Euro-centric colonial identifiers is very telling as to the mindset that binds the land, and the generational heavy lift that will be required to truly see a once colonised people break free.
I often wonder if it is truly a waste of time.....
Note: Jeevan A. Robinson is Editor-in-Chief and Head of Business Development at Marketing, News & Information Media - MNI Media. he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org