The couple’s visit comes after a Bahamas committee has called on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to acknowledge the British economy was “built on the backs” of past Bahamians and pay reparations.
The Caribbean country’s national reparations committee issued a document ahead of William and Kate’s three-day tour of the country which begins on Thursday.
Speaking to The Independent, the House of Rastafari, an umbrella organisation that represents Rastafarians in The Bahamas, confirmed that it intends to protest and lobby Britain for reparations for the enslavement and trafficking of African people.
“Bahamas is still under colonial rule and the Westminster system but we, as Rastas, don’t serve the system or the Queen. We can never forget slavery or the atrocities done to my people from the royal family,” Priest Marcus, of the House of Rastafari in The Bahamas, told The Independent.
“We’re looking forward to an official apology and reparations – many Bahamians feel the same way. 400 years of slavery can’t be forgotten easily just like that; the damage has to be repaired.”
“We will protest, the priest continued. “ While we know that there’s not much the prince and his wife can do – they can really overstand (Caribbean terminology meaning to comprehensively understand) and see that people aren’t happy.”
“I want the royal couple to report back to the Queen, the reigning monarch, our sentiments on this issue.”
Priest Marcus explained that his organisation are lobbying the Bahamian Government to, along with Britain, facilitate the repatriation of Rastafarians back to Africa – and Ethiopia in particular – as well as compensation for slavery.
The head of the Ethiopia Africa Black International Congress Bahamas branch has penned a letter to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ahead of their visit.
The Most Right Honourable High Priest Rithmond McKinney told the couple the Rastafari community in The Bahamas is asking “to be returned home to our own vine and fig tree, Ethiopia/Africa, with compensation”.
“We don’t just want an apology from the British monarchy; we want action behind it. We want restorative justice,” the Most Honourable High Priest said.
“The former Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, said that we should – as Black people – ‘move on’ from slavery. However, we’re waiting for our true justice and redemption; international repatriation and compensation.”
After Barbados’ transition to republic status and now Jamaica’s intention to remove the Queen as Head of State, the leader says The Bahamas should follow suit. Perhaps this may even embolden ministers to demand reparations from the British state, he added.
“Our system is based upon Westminster’s style of government; it seems this country is not serious about our liberation – we say we’re an independent nation but swearing allegiance to the monarchy. It’s a lie!”
The ultimate aim, the Most Honourable High Priest continued, is for the the Rastafarian community across diasporas to present the case to the International Court of Justice. However this could cost millions of pounds in litigation fees, he added.
Many Bahamians are alarmed to know that its Government is paying for the royal visit. “How can we have so much oppression going on, a lot of poverty and unemployment – yet our government’s footing the bill?,” the priest asked.
“These people aren’t supposed to be special in our lives. We’re supposed to get from under their regime as much as we can – not promote them. And when they come amongst us, they should do so in the most humble way, apologisng and seeing how they can fulfil justice for us all.”
Similar sentiments were expressed in a letter published by the Bahamas committee for reparations.