Submitted by Ras Jahaziel
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At this epoch of Mankind’s evolution, where democracy and respect for human rights are being immortalized as indispensible virtues which every society must possess and are universal yardsticks by which the actions of governments are measured, it is almost inconceivable that there are still those who continue to reject the idea of reparations for descendants of African slaves. Recently, a book on the subject by Professor Sir Hilary McD. Beckles, pro-vice chancellor at the UWI Cave Hill campus a leading activist and economic historian was published. Entitled Britain Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide, it sets out a compelling case for Reparations from Britain which cannot be counteracted by any of the sophisms and specious reasons posited by cynical detractors.
Reports circulating in the international media indicate 12 Caricom countries along with Haiti and Suriname have initiated proceedings to sue three former colonisers, Britain, France and the Netherlands. This is good news for many Blacks in the Caribbean who believe (and justly so) that the heinous practice of slavery must be addressed in a material way. Why should it be addressed? The societies of the mentioned colonisers have benefited from untold wealth which has been acquired as a result of sweat,blood and tears shed our ancestors. It does not matter if slavery was an accepted practice of those times. What matters is that it was a heinous act which has stained history’s page and said page should now reflect those who benefitted most address it!
The region recently appointed Sir Hilary Beckles to head Caricom’s reparations committee. He has not wasted any time lighting a fire under the issue. The committee has secured the services of British law firm Leigh Day whose reputation was enhanced recently when the it won compensation for hundreds of Kenyans arising from the Mau Mau rebellion.
Although there is no official figure given of the repatriations claim a few regional newspapers have suggested £200 billion, the equivalent to the £20 million paid to slave owners in 1834 when slavery was abolished. Prime Minister Ralph Gonzales, the most vocal of regional leaders, stated in a speech to the UN recently that “The awful legacy of these crimes against humanity ought to be repaired for the developmental benefit of our Caribbean societies and all our peoples.”
GRANTS AND AID ARE THE NEW BRIBES ON THE BLOCK. Their purpose is condition amelioration and not African liberation. They are used to secure the allegiance of allies, and thereby perpetuate the status quo of enslavement without reparations.
GRANTS AND AID AND HISTORY (excerpts from the book “Britain’s Black Debt”)
The Mahogany Coconut Group stands firmly in support of historian Trevor Marshall’s views on the role of white Barbadians in the politics of their country. We also publicly declare that Marshall has never promoted racism but has spent almost four decades in highlighting social and economic issues that affect the entire country.
It was Marshall who first critically examined the role played by Sir. Grantley Adams in Barbados’ political development, to the best of our knowledge, Sir Grantley was black; it was Marshall who questioned the granting of National Hero status to many of Barbados’ National Heroes, most of whom are black. Therefore it is difficult to understand why he is only deemed a racist when he critically analyses the role of Barbadian whites in the country’s development.
We are amazed that some Blacks, who rushed to defend Mr.Ralph Johnson’s description of Barbadian workers as “lazy” and inefficient, would want to give Johnson credit, for essentially painting an entire work force with one brush but would want to crucify Marshall, for asking why Indo Barbadians and other minorities, are not placed in the Senate with the same regularity as whites. It was fair to ask why white Barbadians do not enter elective politics but use their corporate weight to influence public policy.
The Caribbean is a region with many countries many of whom had no relationship with England and or slavery. To write about Caribbean slavery without being specific as to the islands involved is to put it mildly is misleading.
In the case of Barbados the absence of history heightens our inability to think with clarity. The British discovered Barbados I believe in 1640. Indians were the only residents there. Some eventually migrated to British Guyana. The first English settlers the vast majority of whom were Jews wanted to grow coffee but England needed sugar. To this end they sent in some INDENTURES/white slaves, arranged for Blacks to be sent from Nigeria and paid them to work on the land. Unlike the USA they did not buy the African blacks.
By the time you have read this I would have carried out a promise to address the Caribbean elders of the Pepperpot club in what we used to call Ladbroke Grove in West London, which pompous estate agents have now renamed Notting Hill.These people are warriors, pioneers, unrecognised in their countries of birth and treated with disdain in their adopted home, Britain.
These are people who came to Britain in the early post-war years to labour in Lyons tea shops, the national health service, the army, and most of all on London Transport, because they wanted a better life.They are almost all now in their late 70s and 80s, ill-treated by the local Kensington and Chelsea local authority, the wealthiest in Britain, who want to deprive them of even the opportunity to meet in their lunch club to swap anecdotes and a few laughs until the good Lord calls them home.
These are people who left the sun-drench Caribbean to get out of their beds in a snow-covered city to look after the thankless patients, sweep tube platforms while remaining invisible to passengers, make breakfast in working men’s canteens for a pittance, all the while sending money back home to their loved ones to feed and clothe them and to repay the cost of their travel to Europe. These are the pioneers that two of our prime ministers – one BLP and one DLP – are on record as saying did not make any contribution to the nation.Now, with great reluctance, it is recognised that their remittances were the backbone of the foreign reserves in the 1960s that we now talk so much about. It will be a pleasure to talk to them, to share memories of being a young man in West London, birth place of the world-famous Notting Hill Carnival, that demonstration of street theatre that the British, especially the media and police, still find so hard to accept.The invitation to talk to them from the club’s chairman, Barbados-born Rudi Brathwaite (Kizerman), one of our brilliant authors, was so much appreciated that unusual for me, it has occupied my thoughts ever since then.
Not so long ago, the veteran Grenada-born UK broadcaster Alex Pascall invited me to give a short address to a group of Caribbean elders reflecting on the last 60 years of our presence in the UK. This was followed shortly after by a St Vincent-born retired teacher, who was asked by the senior Methodist minister at her church whey there was a noticeable absence of African Caribbean intellectuals in British life, unlike the 1960s and 70s. It was something that concerned me privately for sometime. Although in a superficial way this has no direct connection with Barbados, in a real way it does, since the lack of dynamism in the African Caribbean community in Britain has similar echoes in the Caribbean.
British Publish Space:
The observation that the Caribbean dimension to British public discussions is missing is very astute and the minister should be complimented for his profound perception. This absence, or more properly marginalisation, is particularly observant in the press, in local and national policymaking, in the work place, and most disappointing of all, in the universities and think-tanks. Even on matters of direct interest to the Caribbean community, the debate is usually between opposing white views and, on very rare occasions with a black input by default – a David Lammy or Trevor Phillips.
The other default position is using an Asian voice to speak on behalf of black people – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown of the Independent, for example. This is also seen in book reviews, profiles of black entertainers, sportspersons, etc; black people may be the performers, but they are never invited to articulate their art or skills, on the presumption that they are not intelligent enough to theorise their performances or skills.
The sudden, but not unexpected, death of Baroness Thatcher, one of the most dynamic if divisive of Britain’s post-war political leaders, and her grand ceremonial funeral have marked a staging point in the continuing story of Britain. Those who remember her elevation in to the Edward Heath cabinet as education secretary, when she gained notoriety as ‘Thatcher, Thatcher, the milk snatcher’ and then made the sudden jump to takeover of the Tory party then led it to government in May 1979, might have missed out some of the most important signals of her political drift to the right.
For me, 1979 was a time to remember: it was when Ken Livingstone carried out a post Greater London Council election coup to take control of the Labour-led authority; the exciting launch of Root magazine at Regine’s, later the Roof Garden. It was an exciting time. For Britain’s embattled black community, it was also a threatening time. Thatcher’s ideological guru, Sir Keith Joseph, then social security secretary, had developed a Social Darwinian view of single parents, the poor and those who some now call the underclass. It did not take very much imagination to figure out that the black community, no matter what, were part of this problem section of society; and, like now, the key debate was about immigration. In fact, Thatcher had given a television interview in February 1978 in which she talked about being ‘swamped’ with immigrants. Although Enoch Powell had made his well-publicised speech ten years earlier in April 1968, the debate about race and immigration had not moved from the public agenda and, to a large extent, Thatcher’s television interview set the tone for the next decade.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday April 12, 2013 – In 1838, British slave owners in the English-Speaking Caribbean received £11.6 (US$17.8) billion in today’s value as compensation for the emancipation of their “property” – 655,780 human beings of African descent that they had enslaved, brutalised and exploited. The freed slaves, by comparison, received nothing in recompense for their dehumanisation, their cruel treatment, the abuse of their labour and the plain injustice of their enslavement.
The monies paid to slaves owners have been studied and assembled by a team of Academics from University College London, including Dr Nick Draper, who spent three years pulling together 46,000 records which they have now launched as an internet database. The website is: ucl.ac.uk/lbs.
THE NEW COMMANDMENT OF WHORISM: All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Therefore:
“BEWARE LEST THOU VIOLATE THE SANCTITY OF THE CAUCASIAN, for his person is holy, and he has been put by God over us to be our great benefactor. If you have to rob and kill somebody, rob and kill your mother your father or you brother, but not the white man. If we should fall out of favour and lose his patronage we will all starve and suffer.”
If the word “Satan” is rightly defined to represent the evil actions of humans, the word would most appropriately identify:
He who displays a propensity for robbing, he who displays a habit of bombing and invading, he who builds his wealth on enslaving, he who takes delight in torturing and lynching, he who is most cunning and deceiving, and he who robs a people and then penalizes them for not adjusting to economic handcuffs and legal straitjackets.