In the presence of the British heir to the throne, Prince Charles, Judge Sandra Mason was sworn in as Barbados’ first female president and new head of state on Tuesday night. Shortly after midnight (local time), Mason had a gun salute and a parade of civil servants in National Heroes Square in the capital, Bridgetown.
For 200 years – until a year ago – there was no statue of British Admiral Horacio Nelson. Amid protests against racism and colonialism around the world, the government removed the statue from Central Square, which pays homage to the country’s heroes. “When we do not know who we are; if we do not know what to fight for, we will be exploited and colonized again,” said Prime Minister Mia Motley.
Newly created office
The break with the crown was announced two months ago. “It is time to leave our colonial past completely behind us,” Motley said in his annual address, known as the Throne Speech. Mason read the address from his previous position as Governor-General of the Island State – that is, as the Queen’s representative. In October, the Barbados parliament elected a 72-year-old man to the newly elected presidency. Modley is the head of government.
Buckingham Palace’s reaction was alarming: “This is a matter for the government and people of the Commonwealth,” it said in September 2020. Prince Charles, who represented his 95-year-old mother in Barbados, stressed there: even if some things change, some things will remain the same – such as “close and trusting partnerships” and shared values. In a message from the Queen on Tuesday night, it was said that the Queen would send greetings to the barbarians.
Rihanna became the national heroine
Pop star Rihanna attended the ceremony. Modley announced that the Barbadian singer, who will be his country’s special envoy, will be accepted in the line of national heroes.
The Commonwealth of Independent States is a loose association of states formed from Britain’s former colonies. Stands at the top of the system Queen Elizabeth II Barbados gained independence from Great Britain on November 30, 1966, but the Queen remains President. Most recently in 1992, Mauritius, a member of the Commonwealth, seceded from the monarchy.
“New Suit’s most inhumane community”
The first Englishmen came to Barbados 394 years ago. Soon they enriched themselves by growing sugar through African slaves. In her book “The First Society of Black Slaves” from 2016, Barbadian historian Hillary Beckles described the island between 1636 and 1876 as “the most systematically violent, brutal and inhumane society of modern times”. In his speech, Prince Charles spoke of “the horrible cruelty of slavery that will forever ruin our history.”
Because of this history, there are demands for compensation and votes against the visit of Prince Charles to Barbados, activist Suleiman Bulbulia wrote in the British newspaper “The Guardian” on Monday. At the same time, the country with a population of nearly 300,000 is also known as “Little England” due to the strong influence of British culture. “Of course Barbados will maintain a close relationship with the United Kingdom,” Bulbulia said. But this is a new era. “This time the new nickname will be ‘Little England’ (SDA).
“Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Zombie advocate. Entrepreneur. Internet evangelist. Alcohol fanatic. Typical travel buff.”