Bermuda gets its first Black and female Governor in its 400-year history

Francis Akhalbey Jun 16, 2020 at 04:00pm

June 16, 2020 at 04:00 pm | News, Women

Francis Akhalbey

Francis Akhalbey | Staff Writer

June 16, 2020 at 04:00 pm | News, Women

Rena Lalgie is Bermuda's first Black and female Governor -- Photo: Government of Bermuda

The current Director of Office of Financial Sanction Implementation in Her Majesty’s Treasury, Rena Lalgie, has been appointed as Bermuda’s next Governor. Her appointment makes her the first Black, as well as, female Governor of the island nation.

The mother of two, who is set to succeed John Rankin, will take up the role in December 2020, according to a statement from the Government of Bermuda. Ms. Lalgie said she is “immensely proud” to be appointed as the island’s first female Governor.

“The island rightly has a reputation as a beautiful place to live and a great environment in which business can flourish.  It is a first-class legal jurisdiction with some of the highest international standards in combatting financial crime,” she said.

The Governor of Bermuda is appointed by the British monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Governor’s responsibilities include “external affairs, defence, internal security, and the police” as well as any other duties assigned by the British monarch or his/her ministers, the Bermuda government explains. The Governor also serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Bermuda Regiment.

“I am conscious that this announcement is being made in challenging times; as Bermuda looks to the future, I will work in earnest with the elected Government, through the exercise of my duties, to support and promote the island’s strengths and resilience.  My family and I are looking forward to contributing fully to life in Bermuda as we get to know the people and culture,” Ms. Lalgie added.

A renowned public servant, Ms. Lalgie’s career spans over two decades, taking up several roles with the most recent being the Director of Operations, Trade Group at UK Trade and Investment and Deputy Director, Industrial Strategy at Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

“I am delighted at Ms Lalgie’s appointment as my successor as governor. I know that she is looking forward to the job and I wish her every success in it,” Rankin told The Royal Gazette.

Located in the North Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda is the oldest self-governing British Overseas Territory and has the third-oldest continuous parliament in the world, holding its first session in 1620. Their current Premier (Head of Government), Hon. E. David Burt, is the island’s youngest Premier.

News of Lalgie’s appointment rekindled talks on the push for more reforms to propel the island nation towards self-determination, The Royal Gazette reports.

A former MP and veteran politician, Maxwell Burgess, said as a country with a predominantly black population, it was “not unreasonable to ask that we have a black governor, and the British ought to use their best endeavours to do so.”

“It is something I have called for since way back when [sic]. I am excited to have finally lived long enough to see the day,” he said, adding that “we ought to push now for at least a local deputy governor to support the new governor.”

“If we finish with a black governor and a Bermudian deputy, that is just short of what I dream of for us.”

A pro-independence advocate, Burgess, however admitted he does not foresee the island attaining that any time soon.

“But nonetheless you press on,” he said.

Former Premier and another pro-independence advocate, Alex Scott, also said: “It’s quite progressive for Great Britain. Now it is time for us to become progressive. This is the British reflecting an awareness of the changing times.

“For Bermuda, and I mean no disrespect, we have just received another personality — another governor that happens to be female and happens to be black. Both of these represent an extraordinary appointment by the British.”

The 89-year-old, however, stressed that what Bermudians really “crave and require is sovereignty.”

“I am probably one of the oldest soldiers in politics. I regard this as progressive by the British. But it does not mean Bermuda is progressive and it does not change our status as a colonial entity,” he told The Royal Gazzette.

“Black lives matter and are significant and relevant. Hopefully, the former colonies that are now independent are also putting diversity in place.”

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