THE VOICE FOR AN INDEPENDENT MONTSERRAT
Published by Chedmond Browne, P.O. Box 197, Plymouth, Montserrat
MONTSERRAT-: SLAVERY, COLONIALISM, CONSTITUTION
This is an attempt to put into perspective an understanding, of the connection between Ethnic Slavery, Colonialism, the Constitution, and the ongoing process between the Administering Power, the Colony of Montserrat and the United Nations. One reason for doing this, is so that the People of Montserrat can have another approach to viewing what has happened to US from Slavery to the present and to determine whether what is happening to US presently varies very much, from what happened to US then. In order to do this, a specific starting point is necessary. The historical starting point is Slavery. Even though the history of our people go much further back than 1500, for the purpose of this exercise, 1500 will be the starting point.
Around the year 1500 Europeans began a peculiar type of enslavement, classified as ethnic slavery. The classification, came about because from the years 1500 to 1834 the europeans put in place a system called slavery, that targeted one specific ethnic group from the continent of Africa. Acquiring them by any means, they transported them across the Atlantic ocean, and sold them. The buyers purchased them as objects and used them to serve as a free labor force for their plantation and estate industries. It was this system of ethnic slavery that allowed Europeans to establish the empires and industries that make them the force that they are today.
For some 334 years, with the assurance that assimilation was impossible, this system of slavery was enforced through brutality and fear. After some 300 years, due to a convergence of contradictions in the military, social, political, and economic dynamics of the society the system of ethnic slavery collapsed. History states that we were emancipated in the year 1834. In other words in 1834 the Africans in the English speaking Caribbean were set free from physical slavery. This emancipation should have translated into free democratic self-governed states. For the next 31 years, however, between 1834 to 1865 there were many riots, revolts and disturbances throughout the newly emancipated regions, due to the fact that the former slaves were landless and penny less.
In 1865, the People of Jamaica were in open revolt. They were the majority. However they had no say so in the political systems Legislative Assembly. They demanded land and the right to rule themselves.
The following year 1866, the british government came up with a response to the peoples request.
Throughout the region, Legislative Assemblys were dissolved, and Nominated Assemblys replaced them.
Under this system the crown assumed absolute rule over the colonies, and could delegate its authority to whomever it desired. This was called "absolute rule" of the crown.
Colonialism, implemented through absolute rule of the crown, was designed to insure that the majority of the people who now occupied the free territories would be controlled and administrated by their former slave master's through the authority of the crown. It still exists today. In those areas where ethnic slavery existed, colonialism became the replacement.
Coming , as a response to a genuine request from recently freed slaves to take charge of their own destiny, Colonialism, is Slaverys Daughter.
So, Africans, recently freed from physical bondage, in 1834, began a new cycle in 1866 where the administrative authority of the crown, replaced slave master brutality and the exploitation of labour and resources continued.
The newly freed territories became crown colonies and all of the recently freed people became subjects of the crown. Administrative authority would be exercised by whom ever the crown choose.
In Montserrat, the same held true. The census of 1871 shows some 240 europeans to eight thousand Africans on the island. Still, like all of the other recently freed british territories, Montserat too, became a crown colony in 1866.
In 1936, 1956, 1958 and 1960 some minor changes were made to the colonial system, to accommodate attempts at central administration.
In 1989 for the first time in 123 years of colonial rule a written constitution, The 1989 Constitution Order came into force.
With very little consultation, at the same time that the populace was attempting to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Hugo, the british government enforced a constitution on the colony.
Collecting all the letters of patent and the other administrative controls that it used from 1866 up till then, they compiled them placed them all in one document and enforced it upon Montserrat.
There was very little in it, that deviated from the original form of colonial administration established in 1866.
As in 1866 when the crown decided to assume and implement its authority, so in 1989, the crown through HMG assumed and implemented its authority over its colony. Montserrat.