Reparations, a questionable narrative hiding behind economic incompetence

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In a recent meaningful post elsewhere on the subject of reparations, Michael A. Dingwall wrote: Time to bury to reparations Corpse (https://wp.caribbeannewsnow.com/2018/07/29/letter-time-to-bury-the-reparations-corpse/) Michael added, “Most young people, only have one main thing on their minds – just getting by or how to migrate to North America and Europe,” which is indeed very, very true but why is this the case?

The answer surely is that there is such little prospect of obtaining a good livelihood for any young family here, especially one who is unconnected to the nepotistic regimes that often wield power in these parts one term after the other. Therefore, one’s only reasonable hope for an economic livelihood is to escape by migrating to Europe or the Americas.

Michael also reminds us that “The system of slavery was acceptable during its time – both legally and morally, and by both whites and blacks.” Indeed some blacks even went as far as owning slaves themselves. And Michael further reminds us that, yes, another truth, “the glaring historical fact that Africans sold out their own into slavery.” And very often might one add for just a bag of salt in order to humiliate the enslaved.

By this undeniable unhappy news and the logic of the reparation lobby, herein lies a case indeed for financial damages against the buyers and sellers of African slaves.

Reparation damages in the form of money from both the buyers and the sellers we are told is needed. A case for financial damages against all Europe, India, Pakistan, the Americans, the Arabs and indeed the Africans should be made, all of whom traded and kept African slaves. However the claim in this instance is limited to both Europe and the Americas, after all, their pernicious ideology that followed African slavery has served to further enslave our minds. Is it not so?

On August 1, 1834, Emancipation Day in the Caribbean was truly a historic day indeed, because it brought a formal end to our enforced formal ancestral sufferings. Enforced slavery for sure has given rise to our existing plight indeed and is not to be played down in any way. Yet we are being given a false narrative by Ralph Gonsalves and his counterparts for political expediency.

According to their false narrative, we cannot help ourselves one bit because past slavery has made us one-legged to coin a phrase. We are now walking with a limp, drooping and sagging under the baggage of slavery, to which the European nations in particular must now pay the Caribbean governments, or us the people as descendants directly, a sum of money in order to greatly help us to walk upright once again.

For me, their narrative is entirely a false one. Yet none can deny past and now our present sufferings here. We truly suffer as a result of gross poverty, poor education and equally poor governments, too boot, governments who exploit the former two issues, while espousing a pseudo Karl Marxist doctrine that appeals to poor dispossessed peoples.

Just look at our murder rate here! Burglary, muggings and other crimes are indeed very alarming as indeed is the strife in all of our communities and these need explaining outside of government failings. Government ineptitude, economic incompetence and self-indulgences cannot be admitted to. The people’s own lethargic indolence and sloth cannot be pointed out when vote-banks are being nurtured. Ignorance and lethargy must be mollycoddled and pampered to ensure political victories.

Indeed, none can deny that that period of black African slavery that had taken African peoples to the Caribbean, Europe, India, Arabia and the Americas was indeed unique in the history of the world, not only in its scale but in human sufferings and its exploitation of peoples.

Nevertheless times have changed and we too needs get a grip of ourselves and get to work for the benefit of our own wellbeing and stop looking outside of ourselves for solutions.

November 24, 1859, saw the publication of a work by Charles Darwin entitled “On the Origin of Species” considered a work of scientific literature and was/is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Moreover, this work was indeed to have most profound consequences upon us.

For sure this work more than any other, together with a scramble for control of Africa and the non-European nations by the European powers, have profoundly shaped the mindset of some people in its proposed and suggested bio-grading of human intelligence through national characteristics. Its consequence has been most far reaching to date.

As a result of it, although on August 1, 1834, we had a formal Emancipation Day, when the iron chains were being cut off from the feet of individuals, nevertheless by November 24, 1859, a new form of slavery was on the horizon. The period for mental slavery of Caribbean peoples of African origin was being ushered in, being forged through a false pernicious ideology. An ideology that goes by the name of racial superiority.

Charles Darwin and others had legitimised the old form of slavery by their assumptions and saw it as a God given right in the process of the Europeans dominating and civilising the rest of the world but worse was to come for humans of African origin, they were now to lose even their very humanity. Disdain, contempt, scorn, manipulation, exploitation and abuse of peoples of African origin were now very much in good form.

Slavery we know appears to be as old as time itself. The Romans sure made good use of it. They exported so many slaves from Sardinia that the then price of slaves plummeted. Slaves from all parts of their empire were forever being dragged back to Rome.

However what was very different with the recent European enslavement of African people was the racism that followed. The dehumanisation of peoples of African descent that still persists. A dehumanisation that is now seriously internalised by even the descendants of the slaves themselves and exploited by our political leaders. The mantra we perceive and hear is this, that we are now so damaged we cannot help ourselves.

We need the former masters once again! We sure need their money in compensation for their wrongs to our ancestors and we dearly need their knowhow. We just cannot go it alone now. We are too badly damaged. Leadership and reparations for us poor unfortunate souls is a must. But what twaddle such false narrative touts and seriously pushes forward.

In Ireland we do not hear the Irish asking for reparations for their loss and hurt. The Great Potato Famine in Ireland was a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration of its peoples that took place in 1845 and 1852. It is also generally known, outside Ireland, as “the Irish Potato Famine”. In the Irish language it is called an Gorta Mór, generally taken as meaning “the Great Hunger” or an Drochshaol, meaning “the bad times”.

Neither do we hear cries from the Indians/Pakistanis demanding reparations for their long years of social and economic exploitations under the British Raj. Their tremendous loss in the Great Famine that began in 1876. The Great Famine 1876–78 (also the Southern India famine of 1876–78 or the Madras famine of 1877) famines in India that took place under the colonial British Raj.

Truly the false narrative of the reparations lobby ignores the large sums of money that the EU, including Britain have distributed throughout the Caribbean. Money distributed since Caribbean independence that began during the second part of the last century.

The false narrative for reparations ignores the ineptitude on the part of Caribbean governments in showing any possible result whatsoever when it comes to economic benefits to native Caribbeans and job creation for our workforce.

Ralph Gonsalves in particular masks his own futility in government and his nefarious dictatorial behaviour by joining the reparations lobby. He speaks of people’s freedom yet denies passing into our law a Freedom of information Bill that was so eagerly promised by his party while he was in opposition. The same now sits perhaps on a grubby shelf gathering dust in the Parliament building while he and his regime seek to muzzle people’s free speech in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

He and his party champion “this reparations lobby” while he himself and his extended family run the country as feudal landlords, with the descendants of the very slaves enduring much neighbourhood stress, a rampant murder rate, fear of personal violence and theft while wallowing in apparent serfdom.

Matthew Thomas in his recent post asked In Whose interest do demagogues Work (https://news784.com/opinion/in-whose-interest-do-demagogues-work/) while listing some questionable acts on the part of our supposedly most benevolent and benign governmental rulers.

As the lyrics in one of Bob Marley’s songs, Redemption Song, puts it: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.” Need one point these truisms out again, these are facts that had been well recognised by Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon and the “Negritude Movement”!

Why indeed may one ask should we have a narrative set by individuals with questionable motives? In this great struggle for equality and quality of life, none but ourselves can free our minds and thereby free ourselves.

It is time we get up and work and work hard, very hard, and stop playing the victims. Therefore as Huey P. Newton / Bobby Seale once wrote “Seize the Time”: The Story of The Black Panther Party! Freedom, remember, only comes at a very high price and only he/she who is determined to be free will be able to pay for it!

James. H

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