24 May, 2007

Colonialism 4

Mutual Contempt. One of the results of Anguilla’s long history of internal self-government has been the complete absence from the Anguillian consciousness of any conception that the British are in any way superior to Anguillians. Unlike in more settled colonies of the past, there is no element in the society that instinctively believes in the superiority of the European over the Creole. It is exactly the opposite. We are so sure of our innate superiority in managing our own affairs that we consider that the FCO appointees should recognise what a privilege it is for them to be given an opportunity to live among us. We always express astonishment when, at the end of their contracts, they show a preference for going back to the UK rather than settling down for their retirement in the vastly superior atmosphere that Anguilla provides.

That is not to say that all is rosy in the relationship. There is a healthy sense of mutual distrust that guides the colonial discourse in Anguilla. The more junior FCO officials have a universal disregard for the unique and peculiar constructs of Anguillian society. Governor Robert Harris was the exemplar of this species just a few years ago. We all remember him, and how Hubert Hughes wore him down and brought him to his knees, eventually. The FCO for its part generally harbours no trust in Anguilla’s elected ministers or senior civil servants. There is a suggestion of an increasing willingness to interfere in local governance. There are the threats and pressures on our financial industry. There are restraints on our government's ability to borrow money. These all serve to highlight the disparity in the relationship between Anguilla and the FCO. Only a healthy mutual contempt keeps the balance even.

We do not know the names of or the agenda that the FCO visitors, who arrive in Anguilla in barely two months time to begin the discussion on constitutional reform, will bring with them. We do not know their emotional and cultural baggage. We can expect that it will not be in our favour. We do not know if they will be high-level officials, who are more likely to come with respect for our wishes and a genuine willingness to be our partners. Or, will they be arrogant low-level clerks, out to do a reconnaissance before the big boys get involved? If the first, we will get on quite well in an atmosphere closer to mutual respect. If the latter, the talks will inevitably be more difficult. Whichever it is to be, all of us in Anguilla must wish our negotiating team well in their preparations to argue for increased democracy and good governance in Anguilla by way of a more advanced Constitution to govern us in the years to come.


  1. Civil Society World Assembly - Glasgow - May 23-27
    CIVICUS, the Johannesburg-based international organisation and host of the GCAP secretariat (Global Call to Action Against Poverty), is holding its 7th World Assembly this week, drawing hundreds of civil society groups from around the world.
    Read about it in the IPS conference newspaper TerraViva: http://www.ipsterraviva.net/tv/civicus2007/


    Chant for Accountability
    Brendan O’Brien and Zarina Geloo
    Civil society has to be more accountable. This is the key message of the 2007 CIVICUS World Assembly to the more than 1,000 delegates from about 140 countries who have arrived at Glasgow's Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.

    "Dangerous questions" on NGO Accountability
    Moyiga Nduru
    A few years ago, this IPS correspondent posed a question at a workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, about whether non-governmental organisations should be held more accountable for their actions. Afterwards, the key speaker at the event pulled me aside, and issued a polite rebuke for my "dangerous question".

    THAILAND: Community Radios Refuse to Go Silent
    Marwaan Macan-Markar
    They may still be on the margins of the country's media landscape with their limited reach on the airwaves and small audiences, but Thailand's community radio stations are refusing to go silent.

    PAKISTAN: Cleric Turns Heat on NGOs
    Zofeen Ebrahim
    "These foreign agents are against our religion. How can we allow them to work here when we know they come with an American agenda and support Israel?" asked Maulana Fazalullah, the pro-Taliban cleric, referring to NGOs.

    LATIN AMERICA: Measuring Civil Society By Its Own Yardstick
    Marcela Valente
    Legal reforms, manuals of good practice, codes of ethics and schools for activists are some of the tools that organised civil society in Latin America wants in order to improve its transparency and legitimacy.

    Accountability - Long Word, Long Way to Go
    Sanjay Suri
    Long word, "accountability". Been around a long time as well. Why then, Civicus secretary-general Kumi Naidoo asked at the opening plenary of the Civicus World Assembly in Glasgow, is it only now becoming current?

    For Big Business, Accountability Still a Foreign Word
    Julio Godoy
    On Mar. 15, 2006, Noel Forgeard, at the time chief executive officer of the European aerospace corporation EADS, sold, apparently without any reason, some 170,000 shares he owned of the company, making an instantaneous profit of almost five million U.S. dollars.

    IPS-TerraViva has selected a team of journalists from Brazil, Chile, England, Hungary, India, Scotland, South Africa, Turkey and Zambia to cover the event, in an effort carried out in partnership with Civicus and SCVO, the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations. A printed daily TerraViva newspaper will be distributed amongst participants in Glasgow and it will also be available online at www.ipsterraviva.net.
    In-depth stories on the ongoing debates will also be carried by IPS News at www.ipsnews.net

  2. I do not understand the relevance of these civil society events to Anguilla. We have our own civil society problems. The Anguilla National Council of Women was represented in this week's meeting of the UN Special Subcommittee on Decolonization in Grenada by Lana Hoyoung. She testified that there are 9000 Philippino and Indian foreign workers on our island!

    Do people believe that being in Grenada is like being on another planet, they can tell any kind of self-serving lie they want and we here at home are too stupid or slavish to object? I am tired of people like Lena, Vernal Bryan, Yanchie `and Yinka claiming they speak for Anguilla. I support their right to speak out, but they do not speak for me.

  3. This evening, Vernal Bryan plagiarised selected portions of the above message on his own anguillatalk website, omitting Lena's name and of course his own.

    Someone asked for the source of the information. A third person stated that the source was Don Mitchell's blog, and posted the entire two paragraphs, including Bryan's name.

    Within minutes, the entire thread disappeared. He's stated his intention of coming back and running for office. His selective manipulation of facts certainly qualifies him as the kind of leader he claims to despise.

    "Rude and abusive people have always been with us but now they have internet access."


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