A birthday wish that we could be masters of our own domain
I will be 70 years of age on my next birthday and I would like to think that I have lived long enough to acquire enough knowledge and understanding of the facts and the realities of the life into which I was born.
My grandmother had always told me from a very young age that if I did not get into university, then create one of my own. She said that all the knowledge of life is found blossoming out in the field of humanity and by the natural laws that govern all nature on Earth and throughout the entire universe.
After all, that is where the professors of the universities had to go first to harvest it, then to repackage it and sell it back to you.
As I have said to you once before, I never got to go to high school, and had to drop out of elementary to go and find work if I did not want to starve to death. Nonetheless, I have never stopped trying to learn from any of the events that were taking place all around me during my lifetime, which forced me to open my eyes ever so wide so that my mind could analyse the vast amounts of information I now have stored deep within the crevices of my mind.
It was through the wisdom of my grandmother that I first received my understanding of what politics in Bermuda was all about, and just where and how black people fit into the thick of things. In those days, Bermuda was a segregated society and there was no such a thing as universal adult suffrage.
It was at the very tender age of 4 that I had first encountered the force of the raw racist segregation that was practised throughout Bermuda, and especially in the City of Hamilton. Even though today Bermuda has gone through a lot of changes since those days, and some of us like to think that we have come a long way, I still don’t believe that we have reached that point in our history where we need to be rejoicing as yet. That reality may await us somewhere over the next two horizons. They say that if you say a thing long enough, people will believe it.
Well, Mr Editor, I don’t believe and have not been convinced enough to believe that Bermuda is a true democracy any more than there is a man living on the moon. One of the main reasons why I believe that Bermuda is not a true democracy is because we are still a colony, a subservient state that is subjected to a colonial master that has the ability to null and void our Constitution and shut down our House of Assembly against our will if they felt it necessary to do so.
The weakness in our so-called democratic system showed up even more so when the Governor over a period of several weeks refused to sign into law the Domestic Partnership Bill, which was followed by the threats that came out of the British Parliament to force same-sex marriage down our throats. It showed that whatever it is we call democracy, in fact is really something else. But to think that a parliament, in which we here in Bermuda do not have an elected member sitting, pushing its will on us can be seen only as nothing more than blatant, up-in-your-face hypocrisy.
The next thing I have always wondered was how real was my citizenship to Bermuda and did I have a case to lay claim to my birthright to Bermuda?
I was amazed to see a foreign-born woman by the name of Georgia Marshall standing down on the Senate grounds and having the nerve to make an erroneous statement that Bermudians were born in Bermuda by accident of birth.
Even though her statement had upset me, I, like many Bermudians, are in denial about our true national state of affairs, for that same question had been bouncing around in my head for quite some time and it has left me thinking: do lizards and frogs have more right to lay claim to citizenship and birthrights to Bermuda than I do?
It is at this point where I believe that the whole question of citizenship and sovereignty needs to be discussed, and what it means to acquire our legitimate right to citizenship and our true heritage and birthrights to Bermuda.
We should no longer need to be subjected to the whims of the Georgia Marshalls of the world; nor should we be subjected to a parliament that is 3,000 miles away, where we do not have one member sitting. Nor should we remain subjects to a colonial master who has segregated us from them as a distinct and separate nationality through the issue and use of a separate passport. Yet they hold sway and dominant control over us.
Mr Editor, I would have to admit that I did go to the polls to cast my vote in the last election and, of course like most, it was based on the hope that the new government would implement the necessary changes Bermuda truly needs. Nonetheless, the idea that has been burning the core of my brain for decades leaves me with the notion that the democratic process that we follow here in Bermuda is nothing more than an empty shadow of what we would like to believe is real.
Thus, whenever election time rolls around, it seems we just go through the motions, playing the same old game over and over, just by stuffing a piece of paper in a little black box. At times I get the feeling that what we are really doing is just rearranging the same chairs on the deck of the Titanic, just to satisfy the status quo.
Like I said at the beginning of this letter, Mr Editor, on my next birthday in November I would be 70 years of age. The question I now ask is this: will I still be here when the real changes begin to take place?
E. McNEIL STOVELL
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