Dear Jamaica England and Scotland

Dear Jamaica, England and Scotland

Jamaica – my first sense of national identity was yours. I lived with you, fell in love with you and felt part of you – your warmth and colour Val W Jamaicawere mine. Though a shy, little white girl, I felt at home in your vibrant, multi-coloured crowds. My heart was full of patriotic joy on the wonderful day of your independence, when I stood proudly by the roadside to greet the cars bringing your old rulers to give you your freedom. I still have the flag I waved for you that day.

It was only later that I realised that you were freed from ‘us’. Back in the chill, grey dreariness of an English autumn, I mourned the loss both of your beauty and of my secure sense that we belonged together – you had many others to love you, but I had only one you to love. I was only adopted and had no real place with you – I had to re-discover my birth-mother but she was not as wonderful as you, to me.

England, I was not proud to be yours – I thought of you as the enslaver and felt guilty about what you had done, bringing me profit from others’ suffering. I was happier with my father’s Scottish roots and, Scotland, I let you off all complicity and kept you proud and pure for many years – united in flag but not in guilt. I then grieved for lost innocence – a confusing and sobering time – before eventually accepting you both.

My confused identity runs deep – I was moved to embarrassed tears by ‘Cool Runnings’ when I had thought I had got over your loss, Jamaica, and now I find myself feeling unexpected anguish at the idea of you, England and Scotland, who made me, divorcing after so many years. It has not always been a happy marriage, I know that, but I never imagined it would come to this.

I hope you’ll stay together and work it out but, whatever happens, I love you both,

Val

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