The following commentary is written by Dr. Charles H. Wheatley

Eighty years ago in 1942, C. L. Bacon wrote the following poem about the governance of the British Virgin Islands. Today it is not unfair to say that B. V. Islanders have taken their homeland governance back in the past.


In these British Virgin Islands,

The far-spread Empire’s dignity

Is vested more or less in one.

High favoured man of dignity

From influential Councilman

To lowliest petitioner

All bow in deference to him,

His Honour, the Commissioner.


All of creation that he sees

Both living and inanimate

The rocks, the trees, the cows the fish.

The crawling, dumb invertebrate,

And higher forms of life, such as

The preacher and parishioner,

All are beneath the sway of him,

His Honour, the Commissioner.


His rule, beneficient and just,

Extends for fifty miles or more

From Jost Van Dyke’s sharp western end,

To Anegada’s eastern shore

In that domain his word is law,

His Honour, the Commissioner.


Should Gabriel’s great trumpet sound

Over these isles its notes of dread,

As told in ancient prophecy,

Calling the living and the dead,

The dead might rise, but first they’d say, “Only with your permission, Sir”

Awaiting final word from him,

His Honour, the Commissioner.

(First published in “Virgin Islands Official Bulletin, September 1942) The genesis of the conditions referred to in this poem was rooted in the colonial rule when the British Virgin Islands did not have elected representatives and a Legislative Council. The power to legislate for the B.V.I. was vested in the Governor of the Leeward Islands Federation and his deputy the Commissioner was authorised to initiate policy. The ineffective Executive Council rarely met except for ceremonial purposes but even if it had power to initiate policy the Commissioner was the Chairman and could summon and dismiss the Council at his will.

Today the genesis of the present governance situation is rooted in thd performance of elected representatives supported by part of the electorate. As a people we need to do some serious political and governance introspection. We have thown aside the values that have guided our forebears. The values of love, selflessness, equality, justice, transparency, accountability, humility and the list goes on. We simply need to acknowledge where we have fallen short and seek the giidance of Almighty God to guide us in making the best decisions for all the people not the selected few.  God has a purpose for everyone and it is the responsibility of governance to facilitate each person in achieving that purpose. It is time to rise from “the crab in the barrel mentality” my brothers and sisters. Let move forward with new courage and hope.