I indicated earlier that the provisions of the 1948 Nationality Act did not favour ancestral Virgin Islanders and that fact was not generally known here. It may be that the local legislators themselves were not fully aware of the long-term disadvantage to social stability which might accrue. However, they seem to have been quite aware of the political ramifications at the local level. As a result, they made representations to the British government (with or without the full knowledge of the general population) and the result was Part I Section 2:2 of the 1976 Constitution Order, which determines who is deemed to belong to the Virgin Islands. This provision may have been well intentioned, but in the long term it turned out to be a disaster in several ways because in effect it took away from the ancestral Virgin Islander more than the 1948 Nationality Act had done.

Firstly, the provision in question specified eight different ways in which a person might be eligible for belonger’s status (section 2:2 (a) to (h)). Only in two ways were ancestral Virgin Islanders favoured, and that in a limited way (section 2:2 (b) and (g)). According to 2:2 (b) “A person is deemed to belong to the Virgin Islands if that person (a) is a British subject and was born outside the Virgin Islands of a father or mother who was born within the Virgin Islands and 2:2 (g) is the child of any person to whom any of the foregoing paragraphs of this subsection apply … /”

On the other hand, an immigrant was favoured in seven different ways (2:2 (a) and (c)-(h)). The provision in the 1976 Constitution Order was buttressed by the British Nationality and Statute of Aliens Act, 1914 or the British Nationality Act, 1948 administered by the governor on behalf of the secretary of state, and by section 15 of the Immigration and Passport Ordinance, 1969 administered by the local government.



Clearly, a certain amount of immigration is healthy, and in the early years we were one big happy family. But I once heard a wise woman say, “Enough is as good as a feast.”

The VI is a small territory with limited land space, limited resources and limited opportunities. It is difficult to understand what would motivate succeeding governments to disregard the interest of the ancestral Virgin Islander to the extent that they are now outnumbered. What kind of expediency would allow a responsible government to sow such seeds of discontent?

There is no excuse for what irresponsible government has allowed to happen here. Discontent shouldn’t come as a surprise to any rational person who understands what happened in the VI. Only in Heaven, where we would have lost our sinful nature, would the situation not have led to confusion. Any reasonable person would understand the sense of betrayal which an ancestral Virgin Islander would feel.



For my part, I have been immersed in Caribbeanism at the level of higher school in Antigua and at the level of university at Cave Hill, Barbados, in the days before every island wanted its own college. I have studied and worked in the United States of America: in St. Thomas and on the mainland. So I bring to the situation a mental, emotional and spiritual network of connections which cushions the sense of betrayal. That does not mean that I am immune. Nor does it mean that I am insensitive to what other ancestral Virgin Islanders may be feeling.

In fact, if I were so inclined or if I didn’t have anything else to engage me, I could walk around with a sense of betrayal on my shoulder and it would be understandable. I have a great granddaughter who was born in the US of a mother who was registered as a citizen, having been born in St. Thomas of a mother who is a citizen by descent, having been born in Puerto Rico. All three are ancestral Virgin Islanders and their birth outside of the this territory was a matter of convenience, but according to the 1976 Constitution Order, if my great granddaughter wanted to live here I would have to stand in the Immigration line for renewals, the same as everyone else. Shouldn’t that be enough to make me “snivel” as it was so dramatically and eloquently expressed by an immigrant who exulted that Virgin Islanders should stop snivelling and get on with the programme?