Daily Archives: November 11, 2013

Former colonial officer William Bell’s obituary offers some clues on the demise of the West Indies Federation

William-Lewis-Bell Barbados

Initially the appointment of Bell, a former colonial administrator in Uganda, was greeted with suspicion. The press in Barbados heralded his appointment with the headline “Britain sends us another colonial cast-off”.

“The appointment of Bell was greeted with suspicion.”

And well it should have been. After three hundred years of sucking everything it could from its ‘colonies’ in the Caribbean and around the world – with strategies including the use of slavery, genocide and enforced drug addiction – in the late 1940s post-war Britain looked at the balance sheet and discovered that many of her former assets had become economic and political liabilities.

So Great Britain finally decided to heed the calls for independence – not out of any sense of duty or doing the right thing – but like a business that casts aside a long-term employee who was injured on the job, Britain started dumping the old colonies that were no longer strategically or financially useful. That included Barbados and a host of other Caribbean islands.

And what of all that revenue from sugar’s heyday? What about the benefits to The Empire when Bridgetown was a strategic military base and supply centre? What about the revenues from the slave trade?

Doan talk about that boy.

William Bell: Oppressor? Neutral functionary? Midwife of Bajan independence?

You decide.


Filed under Barbados, History