I am pleased that the Caribbean nation of Barbados succeeded in peacefully breaking away from the Commonwealth of Nations on 30 November. As a newly proclaimed parliamentary republic, Barbados is embarking on a political and social upheaval. The pictures that reach us speak of an upheaval in friendship. I particularly welcome the fact that Sandra Mason is the first female president of a Caribbean state. Prime Minister Mia Mottley of the Barbados Labor Party will continue to hold the reins of government. With Barbados' secession from the Commonwealth, one of her party's major electoral promises has been fulfilled. Motley said after the festivities, "If we don't know who we are; if we are not clear about what we want to fight for, then we are doomed to be exploited and colonised again."
Ultimately, decolonisation processes are about achieving autonomy, about searching for and finding one's own identity. For if there is one thing that has lingered for centuries from the times of colonialism, it is the suppression of one's own, the subordination of one's own identity to the demands of a self-appointed authority. When we use such terms, i.e. when we speak of detachment, autonomy and identity, we involuntarily touch upon thoughts of parent-child relationships. It must make one think when former colonies are linguistically as well as factually evaluated as the children of a former colonial power, even if this happens subliminally and in subtext. Relationship structures, even at the level of nation states, in which one relationship partner sees in the other a malleable entity to be educated, do not do any good. Not to the self-image of a population that lives in the misalignment of such relationship structures, and not to a world community that wants to get along in peace.
Some Caribbean states such as Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis and Tuvalu still recognise the sovereignty of the British monarch. But Barbados has taken an important step and other states are expected to follow suit.