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VI should not aspire to be a colony– Sowande Uhuru

- commentator says none of VI’s economic prosperity directly tied to UK’s actions
Talk show host and commentator, Natalio Wheatley aka Sowande Uhuru has argued that what the Virgin Islands (VI) currently has as a Territory does not represent full democracy and felt that none of the VI’s economic prosperity is directly tied to the UK. He also said VIslanders should not aspire for colonialism. Photo: File
According to Wheatley, 'If the Governor wanted to, under directions from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, [the United Kingdom] could dissolve our House of Assembly, they could suspend our constitution and they can have direct rule from the United Kingdom.” Photo: VINO
According to Wheatley, 'If the Governor wanted to, under directions from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, [the United Kingdom] could dissolve our House of Assembly, they could suspend our constitution and they can have direct rule from the United Kingdom.” Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – Talk show host and commentator, Natalio Wheatley aka Sowande Uhuru has argued that what the Virgin Islands (VI) currently has as a Territory does not represent full democracy and felt that none of the VI’s economic prosperity is directly tied to the UK. He also said VIslanders should not aspire for colonialism.

“If the Governor wanted to, under directions from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, [the United Kingdom] could dissolve our House of Assembly, they could suspend our constitution and they can have direct rule from the United Kingdom,” Wheatley said in a recent interview with this news site.

He showed that the idea was not far-fetched in any way as it happened only recently with the Turks and Caicos Islands. He said persons may argue that this action was justifiable, while others may yet state that similar action should be taken with the Virgin Islands, especially given some of the “immature political practices” that are allegedly happening in the Territory.

According to Wheatley, the Territory would be better served in developing institutions that would help it to develop into a mature democracy. He highlighted the media, an empowered civil society, and bodies such as the Human Rights Commission as integral to facilitating this mature democracy.

He reasoned though, that these may be persons who have no knowledge of what colonialism is, “to be ruled by another country is nothing pretty,” Wheatley stated, “it’s not something that we should aspire to.”

Wheatley argued that any discussion of independence for the Territory must be placed in the correct context, and that is of history, the world economy and the plight of people in independent countries.

He also said that he believed persons might be justified in being reserved towards discussing the issue as they might reason that Caribbean or Third World independence on the whole has not brought about the type of progress that many would have hoped for.

“What people fail to realise, I believe, is that when people are discussing independence and not just discussing what we’ve seen for basically a country just going off on their own,” he said, “they tend to brave the world economy without any partnerships.”

He indicated that the focus of any such discussion should be whether the Virgin Islands (VI) is pleased with the relationship it has with the United Kingdom (UK) and whether it wants this relationship to remain the same.

According to Wheatley, the United Nations has said the relationship is not indefinite. “In fact,” he added, “we have signed declarations with the United Nations Committee of 24 which has mandated that colonialism should be a thing of the past and is not acceptable in today’s world.”

He pointed out that there are several countries today which are not yet free of colonialism, with the Virgin Islands being one of those countries. He added that many of these very countries have signed declarations every year that show that they are working towards de-colonisation.

Most recently, he stated, legislator and Fifth District Representative Hon. Delores Christopher had signed one of these declarations with the UN Committee.

Hon. Christopher had concluded at the time that the position of the Virgin Islands was to maintain its current relationship with the United Kingdom, built on mutual respect and a mature partnership. She said that was “but an interim position as the Territory continues to grow and generations of Virgin Islanders attain higher levels of education.”

Wheatley felt though, that the Territory has not made much progress in recent memory regarding the evolution of its status from being a full colony to having some semi-autonomy.

“I think a lot of people are understandably concerned about what the full independence would mean considering some of the criticisms they have of how [elected representatives] have governed the Territory,” he said.

Wheatley pointed out that the current General Orders that stand in the Territory are a “barrier to democracy” as it stifled people’s opinions and concerns since so much of the VI workforce was employed by the government. “The General Orders are very restrictive and does not allow [Virgin Islanders] full participation in the development of democracy,” he said.

The formation of independent, non-partisan institutions was another issue that needed to be explored, Wheatley said, since partisan politics lead to things such as victimisation of the people.

He examined the economic aspect of the argument in favour of keeping the VI as a Territory and stated that many people might see the UK as some sort of economic security but felt this may be as a result of many people being unfamiliar with history.

“We’ve been a Territory of the United Kingdom for quite some time now… and that did not help us much from an economic standpoint.” He challenged persons to examine the period between 1930-1950 and determine how much economic prosperity the VI had as a result of its relationship with the UK. “We suffered from a great neglect from the United Kingdom and none of our economic prosperity is directly tied to actions they took.” 

11 Responses to “VI should not aspire to be a colony– Sowande Uhuru”

  • we the people (24/06/2013, 14:15) Like (12) Dislike (1) Reply
    Once we get rid of the ndp then we could talk independece
    • Uptown (24/06/2013, 15:12) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
      Yes, Mr. Wheatley. It is time we start the discussion. What do we have except a link to UK? What does it give us to run our country? They don't care if our children have schools or not, the conditions of our hospital, etc. The Virgin Islands must fish for itself. There is nothing to fear, my people, except fear itself. People of the Virgin Islands, do not close your mind to this subject.
      To we the people, we do not want a discussion of the subject matter with VIP for sure.
  • Listen (24/06/2013, 15:06) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Yeah? All the OT's including HK etc have two things in common. First, they have successful financial services. Second, they are offshore; under the patronage, control and protection of a G8 country which guarantees stability. Take away the second and these OT's will struggle. Reality.
  • nonsense (24/06/2013, 15:22) Like (9) Dislike (14) Reply
    Ask Sowande to name one small Territory such as ours, whether in the Caribbean or elsewhere, that are doing better than BVI in any manner because of Independence. Just ask him to name one.
  • POPE (24/06/2013, 15:32) Like (11) Dislike (1) Reply
    mehson ayo go sit down under this government when you fall out with someone in a law firm you go try block dem work permit...image we independent under them kind of people...strupppps
  • notes (24/06/2013, 16:35) Like (4) Dislike (4) Reply
    ordinarily I am for anything that distances us from evil empire that is Britain but to leave our lot to these local crooks...
  • mother hen (24/06/2013, 19:35) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The NDP government must get more sophisticated and start addressing the real issues instead of these trivial issues before we can take them up on independence!!!!
  • west (24/06/2013, 21:57) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    He and Cromwell always chatting this froth. Independence? really? You guys have to be joking!
  • Hmm (25/06/2013, 20:45) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Sowande Uhuru???
    Why do these commentators make up names for themselves. They seem to be embarrassed by their nationality! Are the names supposed to suggest that they come from Africa? If so, where in Africa. It is so sad that they cannot accept who they really are!
  • Ugly Truth (27/06/2013, 20:09) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Love Sowande and love his stance on issues most times but I honestly feel that if we go in that direction we will end up eating each other alive in this little territory of ours. Every other island that has gone down that road is proof of this. To think that we would some how escape that same fate is wishful thinking.


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