I will be sending a new schedule for Wheatakes next week.
Some of the content in this episode was mentioned in earlier episodes but in response to some requests I decided to write this Wheatake for clarity.
This year, 2022, is the 150th year since the BVI attained membership in the Colony of The Federation of the Leeward Islands in 1872. That Federation was made up of four political units called presidencies.
The BVI was the fourth presidency, the other three being:
1 Antigua and Barbuda,
2. St Kitts , Nevis, and Anguilla
This new political status remained unchanged until 1956, which was the beginning of a new status which developed into the Ministerial government in 1967 which has continued until today.
During its status as a presidency the BVI was the most neglected one in the Federation. For example, the present education system has its roots in the activities of the Anglican and Methodist chuches to educate the freed slaves. Their efforts dominated education until the Education Act 1955 gave the government authority to assume some of the responsibility for the education of British Virgin Islanders. During the first thirty years of the Federation -1872-1902- there was a legislative council but its performance was so poor that the Federal Government abolished it in 1902 and vested the policy making authority for the presidency in the Governor of the Leeward Islands and that continued until the 1950's.
In 1950 the Legislative Council was restored but its powers in policy-making was advisory. In 1956 when the presidency became a colony, after the Federation was dissolved, the powers of the elected representatives changed very little, if any, for the policy-making powers were transferred to the Administrstor of the Colony who was also the chairman of the Legislative and Executive Councils. In 1960 the devolution of of authority from the Governor of the Leeward Islands was completed with the abolution of that post. BVI political journey from 1960 to 1967 when Ministerial government began was turbulent because the legislators had to fight fiercely to gain their correct place in the governance of the Colony. From 1967 to the present there have been a number of changes giving incremental authority to the to the elected representatives.
The challenges we are facing today can be contributed to negligence of the danger signs on the journey towards greater self- determination. These dangers are akin to the dangers articulated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1925 and I recorded in Wheatake 47.
The way forward has to be rooted in the quality of knowledge which those who govern possess, the means of achieving that knowledge by those who are governed and the intended uses of the knowledge by those who govern and the governed. Always remember that the roots determine the fruits.
- Dr. Charles H. Wheatley