AS Britain prepares for the coronation of King Charles III, it's business as usual for many people in Jamaica.

Many Jamaicans, like my 37-year-old hairdresser, are busy trying to make ends meet and are more concerned about the high cost of living, the uncontrollable murder rate and related social problems that they face. When asked, what do you think about the King’s coronation, my hairdresser’s answer was: “What King? What coronation?”

But, there are growing numbers of Jamaicans, like those of us in the Advocates Network, who view things differently. We are keenly aware of the exploitative, inhumane colonial history between the British monarchy and Jamaica, and the institutional legacy that persists. This knowledge informs active involvement in national conversations about moving to a republic.

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We view the removal of King Charles III as head of state as a necessary first step to bring an end to 368 years of British monarchy in Jamaica. However, we are of the view that we must go much further. We must create a republic where the people of Jamaica are sovereign and where the voice of the people can be heard as we deepen our democracy.

As we “move on” to establish a republic, we see public education and consultations as critical, especially for ordinary Jamaicans. So when the Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC) was established on March 22, 2023, it was expected that the public engagement would start immediately. Since then, there has been growing discussion about the involvement of the Jamaican people in reforming our constitution and shaping our republic.

In the absence of meaningful public engagement by the government, the Advocates Network launched a citizen participation campaign on April 1, 2023, entitled “A Fi Wi Republic”. The goal is to encourage Jamaicans at home and abroad to actively engage in discussions about the kind of republic that we want. Also, to think about the importance of citizen participation in creating this republic and the relevance of King Charles III as head of state.

The national discussion has intensified since April 14, 2023, when Constitutional Affairs Minister Marlene Malahoo Forte announced that, after holding five meetings, the CRC arrived at a consensus to recommend the abolition of the constitutional monarchy as the form of government, to be replaced by the Office of President of the Republic of Jamaica. The Minister also announced a consensus in the selection of the president.

The response to the announcement from Jamaicans, at home and abroad, has been intense. The main responses relate to how the voice of the Jamaican people will be heard in reforming our constitution, the need to clarify and make transparent the process (including timelines), and specific changes to the constitution that people want.

The National: Coronation celebrations are to be had across the UK - but is it worth the public funds? (Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

So on May 6, while Britons may be enthralled by the King’s coronation, the Advocates Network and others will be engaged in serious conversations about unravelling the legacies of centuries of colonial rule in Jamaica.

We will also join First Nations, Indigenous peoples, and others from 11 other countries with Charles as head of state in calling on the King to acknowledge the horrific legacy of genocide and colonisation of the indigenous and enslaved peoples. Our shared experience with British colonial exploitation and crimes against inhumanity have brought us together.

Together we will use the occasion to amplify our demand for an apology, reparation, and repatriation of artefacts and remains. We insist that our just demand can no longer be ignored.

We shall never forget our painful past, but we have an opportunity to repair the wrongs of the past and write a new narrative for an inclusive, just, and more humane future.