I grew up vaguely aware of The Commonwealth, probably because Uncle Harry had emigrated to Australia, and as a kid, I received books from them as Christmas presents.
Books about a strange place with odd marsupials.
Later, I learned it was a hangover from the days when the sun never set.
And later still, I questioned what imperialists did in the name of Queen and country.
These days The Commonwealth is, well, I don’t know, some feel-good organisation of 52 countries. Looking at the list, it doesn’t include British Overseas Territories (BOTs). Hmmm. Need to change that on your website. Especially as it’s a bank hol in Gib. The combined population of The Commonwealth is 2.4 billion people.
Compare this with the 28 countries of the EU and a population of 508 million.
And, here’s a link to the work of The Commonwealth.
Amazingly Rwanda and Mozambique, who have no historic ties with the old British Empire, have also joined The Commonwealth. It seems it is not an exclusive club.
The Gambia also wants to return after pulling out a few years ago (2013).
Interestingly, The Commonwealth has an egalitarian set-up, with all member states, regardless of size, population, money, having an equal say. So for a small country like The Gambia, it is A Good Thing.
This years theme is peace-building. For March, domestic violence will be the focus, ‘peace in the home’. Not sure what happens for the other eleven months of the year.
“While women are disproportionately affected as victims of domestic abuse, this stubborn stain on our communities is no respecter of gender, location or social or economic status. When we understand that 38 per cent of women murdered globally were killed by an intimate partner, this should shock us all into action. This is why I will remain steadfast in my commitment to address this issue,” said Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland.
The current secretary general is the first woman: the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC. She is the sixth Commonwealth Secretary-General. Born in Dominica, she is the second one from the Caribbean and has a pretty impressive CV.
It seems The Commonwealth is living in a parallel world to the rest of us. Peace-building? If 52 countries can agree on that, why can’t more of us? NB Britain. We are part of The Commonwealth. Can we possibly set an example and not go bombing the shit out of everywhere this year?
All photos taken from the Commonwealth website which permits reproduction for non-commercial use. Further details on their image library.