Once upon a time, Scotland was an independent country. Through the Act of Union In 1707, Scotland and England joined together into a single, united kingdom called “Great Britain”. The union was built on blood, where the land owners and nobility of the time turned on their own people to turf them off their land so that it could be used for greater wealth generation through subsistence farming. This commercial union was to become the pre-cursor of the British Empire.
Just over 300 years later, it was riveting to see the passion in the quest for Scotland to become independent again. To have the means of self-determination and not to feel put upon by the vagaries of the Westminster village. But this quest was different from colonialism as I understood it in Africa. There was no colony or colonised here. Not the way that Africa or India would recognise it.
There was no real separation between the people into inferior and superior. There was no domination or systematic exploitation. But for 45% of the population there was still a feeling that Scotland got a raw deal from the rest of the union and that it could make a better job of things if it went alone.
However, the real learning from this event was that despite the assertive, sometimes aggressive language and posture. Despite the stories of intimidation and bullying. Despite the rumbustious debate, the referendum came and went, with a decision that pleased 55% and dismayed those who wanted independence for another generation before they would ever get the chance to vote again, if ever. Despite all the finger pointing, laughing at the misfortune of the losers, not a single drop of blood was spilt.
That is what makes this country different. That is what makes the UK of today great. That is why so many children of the diaspora are here. Rule of law. Fairness. Justice. An ability to accept decisions. Freedom under the law. It is far from perfect, but show me a place that is. The run up to this referendum was just as tribal as anything I have ever seen across the shores of Africa….but here, there was not one single drop of blood shed. Not one single drop. There must be learning in that.