|Commentary: It is time for the restoration of the Garifuna nation|
|Published on August 27, 2012||
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By Wellington C. Ramos
Since the British removed my people from their native island Saint Vincent and left them on a desolate island Baliceaux to perish and die, living in their new countries has been a major challenge for them. Centuries before the Spanish, French and British decided to colonize the Caribbean islands, including our homeland, the Americas and the rest of the world, the Garifuna nation existed and was the only island that was self-sufficient with food for its people and had a strong government and a military to defend itself against European aggression, domination and colonization.
Born in Dangriga Town, the cultural capital of Belize, Wellington Ramos has BAs in Political Science and History from Hunter College, NY, and an MA in Urban Studies from Long Island University. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science and History
First came the Spanish with Christopher Columbus and his Conquistadors, then he was followed by the French with their military and the use of Catholicism to convert them and make them passive to accept them and finally the British on March 11, 1797, with brute force and the intent to eliminate them from this planet earth. All these European countries pride themselves on being Christian nations and democratic, while they labeled our people and most people of non-European descent to be pagans, illiterates and backward people, despite their accomplishments to justify the atrocities they committed against them.
The Garifuna people fought these Europeans to the end but, due to the British superior military equipment, they finally had to surrender. Years after the Europeans colonized most of the other people and countries in the world, they have failed to apologize and give them reparations to compensate them for the damages they endured. Yet, these countries made trillions of dollars and were able to advance industrially and technologically off the backs of these same people they committed the atrocities against and despised.
Today, the Garifuna people are living in the countries of Saint Vincent, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize, the United States of America and other countries where they were dropped off in the Caribbean like cargo. Many of them have lost their culture due to laws passed by the British that prohibited them from practicing their culture.
The removal and dismantling of a people and a nation is now a gross violation of international law and the Garifuna people have the legal right to seek redress on behalf of their people. Failure for our people to seek justice for this gross violation of our fundamental and human rights as human beings could lead to disrespect by our children, grandchildren, future generations to come and all of our ancestors who shed their blood and lost their lives fighting against these merciless European countries to destroy our people and nation.
The more I conduct research to study about the atrocities these European countries committed against my people, the more angry and bitter I have become towards them. If my attitude is to change, then we must start a dialogue with all these European countries, especially Great Britain, to discuss reparation for the damages they did, which is priceless. I do not want to hear about let bygones be bygones for all the suffering my people endured because it will not bring about relief or satisfaction to me.
We as a people deplore all forms of injustices that have been committed against many peoples and nations in the past and present. Currently, this pattern of behaviour is taking place in the world with no end in sight for the future. Our people are in solidarity with all those people and nations who have suffered like us. It is left to everyone of them to seek justice on behalf of their people and we stand in solidarity with them to obtain their relief. There is no statute of limitations on this matter because the harm that was done to us still exists and is everlasting.
I am now calling on all the living Garifuna people in this world, who agree with me, to organize an international organization comprising of all the Garinagu associations that exist to seek redress on behalf of our people now and speak with one voice. Two hundred and fifteen years of complacency by our people is too long to wait. Another year without taking this bold stand will only lead to more loss of culture, dependency, displacement, poverty and a feeling of hopelessness among our people.
Let us show the world that we as men and women are made of mettle that will not just wither away in the dust. This idea to seek legal remedies for our sufferings is not new but I have not heard of any effort in the past to use this collective approach to solve this problem. It should be given a chance because all the others have failed. Let us start our journey as one family to seek this duly deserved justice for our people.
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You are full of humour. DNA testing to see whose bloodline is pure? Is this akin to Hitler's attempt to purify the Aryan race?
I don't know about you Peter, but me tink arle arwee in Vincylan ha betta tings to do wid arwe time an monee. Let's end this nonsensical exercise and move on to discussion of ideas that hold potential for the betterment of our homeland. And instead of trying to discourage the people of Garifuna heritage from coming home (repatriation)to the land of their ancestors, let's lend our combined intellects to the Garifuna efforts so that our people will be united.
As far as I am concerned, it doesn't matter whether a person is 1% or 100% Garifuna; whether the person of Garifuna heritage was born in Central America, Greggs, Sandy Bay,Lowmans, Stubbs or Bequia. What matters is that all of us come together to work for the future development of our homeland. Although I cannot stomach the manner in which the nation of Israel treats the Palestinians, I do admire the open door policy that Israel extends to Jews in the diaspora. As Vincentians we need to welcome our Garifuna brothers back to their ancient homeland.
Peter, have a great time in London. One of my best friends is up there in London for ah few weeks too. If you run into him, don't inquire about the purity of his bloodline. He is just ah Vincy fro up inthe hills of Wd. Lowmans.
Joseph Chatoyer (died March 14, 1795) was a so called Black Carib chief who signed a surrender agreement with the British and then led a revolt against the British colonial government of Saint Vincent in 1795. He is now, perhaps wrongly, considered a national hero of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
“It is time for the restoration of the Garifuna nation“. Forget it, we do not want Garifuna back in Saint Vincent. Our school children are already being fed lies and rewritten history, which is part of some GONSALVES MARXIST scheme.
The man that is regarded by some as a national hero was far from being a hero. If you guys want to worship him as a hero, do so, but do it in your own country not ours, your not welcome.
The so called Garifuna were a mongrel race of people who's bloodline changed with the arrival of every run away slave and French settler. A mixture of Carib, white man, and African runaway slaves. Perhaps your bloodline has improved with some interbreeding and mixing with Spanish and Indian blood.
Gonsalves has invented your revival here to try and milk you of some investment for the airport, no more or no less than that.
Chatoyer was a scoundrel who sold out SVG to the French. The French were settlers in St. Vincent, during his time he helped and assisted them and led them to believe that they were the new owners of the island. He and his brother Duvalle both kept African slaves to work their plantations. They both traded runaway slaves to the French for use in St.Vincent and elsewhere. Chatoyer spoke French fluently, was often dressed in fancy French suits, clothes and shoes. His children were educated in Martinique, had French manners and spoke French fluently. Chatoyer held French citizenship and was an appointed General in the French army.
Chatoyer signed an agreement with the British, instead of fighting them, he signed and agreement that gave the British what they thought were legal rights. Later Chatoyer reneged on that agreement, that was the beginning of the end for the Garifuna. What followed and your being shipped to an island off Belize can be directly attributed to Chatoyer signing that contract with the British, a surrender which he later with the assistance of the French tried to reverse.
Chatoyer was not a hero, he was a double dealer who like modern day GONSALVES was more interested in himself than his people.
Most of what I have written here can be found in French and British public records. The other version is history rewritten.
There are people today in SVG who call themselves Garafuna, they are not.
Dear Mr. Ramos:
I am a Vincentian whose roots are grounded in Africa, St. Vincent (Caribs or Garifuna) and Scotland (European great-great grandmother). Both of my maternal grandmothers were Garifunas who considered themselves mixtures of free Africans and "Carives" who inhabited the areas encompassing Lowmans, Greggs and Chapmans. In fact, one of my great-aunts used to be mocked for speaking a language that we later found out to be the "Garifuna Language". Consequently, I do indentify with the thesis of your essay, support your call for solidarity, reparations and justice for our people.
As to the response from "Peter", isn't it amazing how ignorant and bigoted a person professing to speak for Vincentians can be? Peter's attempt at obfuscation of the real issues, and blatant disrespect for our people based on the lies of the exploiters, which they call history, cannot stem the tide of our quest to right the wrongs of the colonial exploiters.
In solidarity and goodwill!
David K. Evans:
The rambling comments by Mr. Ramos seem to be more about himself, and his various "inner" feelings than about real history.I am puzzled as to why Roatan Island, of the Bay Islands of Honduras, seems to be omitted in all discussions of the Garifuna?
All the best, D.K. Evans
There is a book written from French and English public records. So it is not the history written by only one side.
Unfortunately there is nothing anciently written by the Caribs, or the so called Garifuna.
What I wrote about Chatoyer is fact, not fiction.
I recently had the opportunity to revue the unpublished manuscript.
Later this year I am told it will be published.
I am annoyed that public records are ignored and what people wrote over the years, which is akin to material for a novel, is accepted as fact and fed to our children by dishonest historians. Dr Cox's book says that Duvalle kept slaves, he told me he was convinced by a leading ULP to leave out the facts about the keeping of slaves by Chatoyer, he deeply regretted his action in doing so.
The other thing you should all know, most of SVG's blacks are in some way related to the KRU tribe, 2000 of them came here in the 1800's after slavery. They were free men, from west Africa, they came as indentured labor. They impregnated most of the black women who had been abandoned in the villages when their men left for Trinidad for well paid work, never to return. Proud, strong, tall men a tribe which was never enslaved, they were known to commit suicide when captured, therefore rejected by the white traders. Apparently that book is going to be published early next year.
Mr Samuel, I doubt any of us in Saint Vincent really know our true blood line, many have adopted the belief that they are Garifuna, many actually believe that. There is a lot of Scots blood mixed in with the blacks, that produced a different clear skinned looking native. What is needed in SVG is a DNA program to establish who is who, or do we.
I doubt that anyone can claim as factual being of Garifuna extraction. What is possible that after slavery ended some of the black people co-mingled with the Caribs, producing a mixed race, but that doesn't make them Garifuna.
It supposed to be published this year. What I wrote is the way it is. Sorry about that, so don't shoot the messenger.
But we all suspected that previously.
PETER seems to have no last name.
PETER charges ME with having other names, but I am just waiting for that debate, since Allan Palmer knows exactly who I am.
Allan Palmer knows me!!!!
I AM THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE IN BERMUDA!
Just ask Allan Palmer.
Palmer and I had several conversations when he worked under my command as his Commissioner.
That is what he said in his article on this forum on June 3, 2011, entitled "Who is Simon Anderson?"
So PETER AND MARKIE SPRING, when you are ready to doubt my identity, just be prepared to ALSO CALL PALMER A DAMNED LIAR!
ANYWAY, BACK TO ....PETER!!!
PETER, my neighbours told me that they know exactly who you are, but they are not giving me all of the info...yet!
They have decided to let me guess.
....And they promised to give me some clues as well, from time to time.
Well you know, Peter, I have to share this info with the readers!
First of all, Peter, are you from the STUBBS area?
Secondly, Peter, do you have a brother named FREDDY who went to Grammar school?
I DON'T KNOW, PETER, SO YOU COULD ADMIT IT NOW, OR I WILL CONTINUE TO PRINT THE CLUES UNTIL YOU ARE DIS-MASKED.
Talk to you tomorrow, Peter...ah mean, PUMPKIN EATER.
VIN SAMUEL, reading your post again, I see that you say your Great Grandmother was a Scot. How then could your Grandmother be a Garifuna?
You further say both of your maternal grandmothers were mixtures of free Africans and "Carives" Is it possible that those African free men were KRU or the offspring of KRU and Vincentian women.
How do you not know that the language you describe was not African as spoken by the KRU?
Who do you pay reparations to?
Who deserve reparations?
Let GONSALVES pay some of his fortune into a reparation fund, because the Atlantic slave trade was started by a family member Captain Antonio Gonsalves of Madeira and Portugal..
Don't show your bigoted mind by talking about colonial exploiters. You sound like that fat nasty MARXIST, GONSALVES.
So PETER, are you from the STUBBS area?
Is Freddy who went to Grammar School your brother?
PETER, I AM ON MY WAY TO UNMASK YOU.
I do claim 4 great grandmothers, 8 great-great grandmothers, etc. My paternal grandfather's mother was a caucasian from Scotland who came to St. Vincent with her brother who was a road-building engineer in the colonial civil service. At the expense of giving you too much of my family information, I can agree with you that some of my family members are quite light-skinned and tall. On the other hand, we have members who are not so light-skinned and barely 5-ft tall. The light skin is not totally a result of the Caucasian mixture. It is a combination of what you might call the "yellow Carib' and Caucasian encounter. All of my mixed race ancestors had tall as well as short members.
Now, my paternal grand-mother of whose sister I referenced with knowledge of the Garifuna language, originated from a line of Caribs inter-married with black men. There might have also been some French origins in that family possibly because some of the last names are French. While my paternal grandmother was dark-skinned, more than 50% of her many siblings were light-skinned. They were authentic Garifunas.
How did I know that my great-autie Bea was speaking Garifuna and not African? Well we did not know until the 1980s when a group of Garifuna people came to St. Vincent. Some of those people were hosted by my relatives in Greggs. Those relatives had opportunity to hear (first-hand) the linguistic exchanges between the visitors. At that time, it dawned on my cousin that the language they spoke sounded just like the so-called "Gibberish" that we used to attest to Auntie Bea. Lo and behold the visitors authenticated that Bea was actually speaking Garifuna!
Remember I had 2 grand-mothers. My maternal grandmother, whom I loved dearly had no hesitation in stating who she was and who she wasn't. She was "Black Carive" and you can take that to the bank! I suspected that she pronounced the word "Carib" Carive because in some Romance languages such as Portuguese and Spanish the "b" in Carib is pronounced "b" or "bey". In your studies of Vincentian History have you ever encountered the word "Etiquago!"? It was a very strategic word used by the Garifuna warriors in the hills of Greggs and Lowmans. Unfortunately, in my English-dominant youth I lost most of the Garifuna words that my "mama' used to try to teach me.
My great-great maternal grandmother and her siblings were pure Caribs. However, my maternal grand-mother was mixed Carib and Black as her father was of African descent, not directly from Africa, having been born in St. Vincent. Those African-descended men were free, either because they were children of escaped slaves who took refuge in the mountains (places like Maroon Hill, Colonarie Mountain, etc)or descendants of free Africans. In fact, while studying in West Africa, I was nicknamed "Adakwe of Kumasi" as my physical structure fits well with the features of the Ghananian people of the Kumasi region.
Now Peter, I am old enough and relatively educated enough by most standards (having been academically prepared in Caribbean, American, European and African institutions; and most important of all having been taught my family history from a young age by both my father and my maternal grand-mother (a very proud and independent minded "black Carive" or Garifuna).
So while it might pain you to see that enlightened Vincentians would publicly proclaim and acknowledge their Garifuna heritage, you need to live with it and stop being an apologist for the colonizers who wrote their history to justify their pillaging of our Caribbean societies and destruction of our ancient cultures. Yes we do and did have a "Caribbean Civilization".
As to you Peter, I do suspect that you are also of mixed-race (if you are Vincentian). Also, I can see from your writings that you have a vendetta against Ralph Gonsalves. You seem to think that Ralph is God Almighty in some instances, while at other times you portray him as the Devil incarnate. When Paul wrote: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me", he didn't mean than "Only Ralph Gonsalves can do all things."
Get this, you might well be one of my relatives! I do have relatives on both sides of the political aisle in SVG. However, I tend to be a "middle-of-the-Road Vincy" not allowing myself to be prostituted to the political system and politicians. Regardless of who you are, I have no malice against you. However, allow me to suggest that you "liberate yourself from the mental Slavery" of feeling out-classed and out-manouvered by The Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. Understand this, even though some of Ralph's followers might feel that he is the Great I Am, responsible for all that is good in SVG and possessing the utmost intelectual and political instincts to lead SVG to the "Promised Land", the respected PM is only a Man. So instead of the constant beration and allusion to the "Red Herring of Marxism", put your skills and energies to the development of entrepreneurial projects that can better our nation. St. Vincent and the Grenadines need private businesses in order to advance socially and economically.
Having said all of the above, it is my unequivocal belief that The past colonizers of our homeland should pay to re-establish the Garifuna nation in SVG. Rambling or not, Mr. Ramos has the right to make that clarion call.
Best regards and no personal axe to grind,
Regarding Peter's comments. What you offer as fact Peter may be fact only in that it was written by French and British historians. History whether you choose to accept it or not is often the opinions of the conqueror over the conquored. It seems you would love to think your bloodline is that of KRU and white mixture resulting in desireable light skinned blacks of superior blood line. I hope I am not the only person that sees this man as insane. I am Garifuna. As children we are told by our grandparents that Yurumei known at this time as St. Vincent, is our home. It is where we come from. We are living in exile. Exiled as you acknowledge by the British. If we of scoundrel blood as you put it are exiled from our home land whey should we not return to our homeland? In fact lets go one step further. Lets chang eht name back to its original name. Yurumei! Why should we continue to call our home the name it is called by those who have persecuted us? Have you been thoroughly brainwashed to believe only what the British and the French have written to the point that you accept it as gospel fact? There ought to be a zoo where people who are as bigoted as yourself are displayed like the last of some breed. Because that is what you are, the last of the bigoted breed. This display should remind us all that this species should never see the light of freedom again. Let it die the death by being ridiculed and laughed at! Let our children our beautiful full blooded and mixed blood Garifuna children laugh when they see species of your kind. As for Gonsalves, thank you for welcoming a dialogue and making us feel welcome. I urge you sir to go one step further. Please reach out to Garifuna in exile to come home and to avail us who wish to come home to land to build homes. Lets let the land of Yurumei proudly rid itself of the remnants of its former enslavers.
PUMPKIN EATER, YOU ARE SUCH LYING TRASH THAT you felt compelled to delete a Facebook post because it was a lie.
The person whom you lied on almost shot you in your face.
PUMPKIN EATER, do you understand that I really do know exactly who you are?
If not, we could speak about your sisters who went to GHS.
Now, Pumpkin Eater, we won't go there, would we?
Hi VIN SAMUEL, the truth can only be determined by DNA testing.
Am I correct in saying that you believe that new Garifuna have been created since the depature of the original Garifuna by black men producing issue with Yellow Caribs. Because if that is what your telling me, that cannot be.
Hi JOSEPH, you wrote "What you offer as fact Peter may be fact only in that it was written by French and British historians".
Joseph, what is written also includes direct recorded observation by people who were there, not by historians hundreds of years later. Written by two apposing sides, French [of whom Chatoyer was a citizen and appointed General of the French Army] and British.
Perhaps we should all wait for the book to be published, I have already read the manuscript, but will certainly buy the book.
Joseph what you and others offer are folk tales, fairy tails, and much guess work and fantasy by modern day historians.
COOeeeeeeeeee! SIMON ANDERSON, you are starting to get an obsession about me. Your ranting’s are becoming more and more stupid. I am losing track of what you are writing to me about.
Cool it man, take a day off with VINCYPOWA, go chase your Chuwahwah’s in the park, combine it with your usual cottaging, with a little snurging on the way.
PUMPKIN EATER, I TAKE ORDERS FROM NO ONE -- ESPECIALLY, NOT FROM YOU!!!
I take a day off when I chose to, not at your suggestion or recommendation.
What happen Pumpkin Eater, is the heat too much for you that you want me to "cool it?"
Yes, I will "cool it" when I chose to, and when you shut your stinking trap.
Until then, I will continue asking you, "WHAT HAPPEN TO THE OTTLEY HALL MONEY?"
Peter, My culture has nothing to do with french culture. If Chatoyer was a citizen of france or a citizen of Mars, has no impact on who we are as a culture nor does it negate that Yurumei is our land and our country. Our culture is distinct and I guess all the research performed by UNESCO before it declared our language , music, oral traditions a masterpiece of the intangible heritage of humanity, is invalidated by your findings that we are of scourndrel blood and that Chatoyer was french and what else? Maybe we made up everything after we were exiled from St. Vincent. Waradib(you bloody crazy in Garifuna)!
COOeeeeeeeeeeee! SIMON ANDERSON, its no good you whining.
I must say that I find your use of language "you shut your stinking trap" unkind, unnecessary and uncalled for. I have always treated you with the minimum of contempt regardless of what you do privately. I am sure you will now be happy to apologize to me as your superior, after all its you who told us about chasing your gay mans Chihuahua dog. And I haven’t even mentioned the cottaging and snurging, just to save you further embarrassment.
Now stop being a naughty boy and go sweep masters yard. When you have done that these items are still outstanding.
We are still waiting, after you told the World that you know who stole or embezzled $184 million from the Ottley Hall project, you were supposed to give your evidence to the police. We are still waiting.
We are also still waiting for the police to arrest Sir James Mitchell on your evidence of wrong doing. We are still waiting.
We are still waiting.
We are still waiting for your boss GONSLAVES to shut down NICE RADIO, tell him to get his arse into gear, he is embarrassing CUBA, VENEZUELA and ALBA, and failing to continue the work of MAURICE BISHOP.
PUMPKIN EATER, they say that you just got out of jail.
Is that true?
Why were you detained by the Police for the last week, PUMPKIN EATER?
What happened to the Ottley Hall money, PUMPKIN EATER?
Is there a link between both events, EATER?
JOSEPH, if you seek credibility get a DNA program going. Everything else is guess work. I know everyone needs to believe, wants to know their ancestry.
THERE ARE NO PEOPLE IN SVG WITH WHAT MAY BE THE GARIFUNA BLOOD LINE PRE SHIPPING OUT TIME. EVEN THE ORIGINAL GARIFUNA WERE A CONTINUALLY CHANGING BLOOD LINE, NOT PURE, MULTI MIXED WITH SEVERAL RACES. SINCE SETTLING IN SOUTH AMERICA I AM SURE THE LINE IS NOW MIXED WITH OTHER NATIVES, INDIANS, SPANISH etc.
GET A DNA PROGRAM ESTABLISHED NOW.
DAY 4 ...3 DAYS LEFT
PETER, I asked you a few questions which you have not yet answered.
You do not have to answer them either.
My gloves come off in 3 days, so you better answer BEFORE I supply them.
1)Who is Brian Alexander?
2) Does the name Brian Alexander ring a bell?
3) Do you know a Brian Alexander?
4) Are you and Brian Alexander very good friends?
Peter, just remember that I am the Commissioner of Police in Bermuda.
JUST ASK ALLAN PALMER! .....He knows me very well, and has worked under my Command.
THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE.
SIMON ANDERSON, because of the stupidity contained in your post, it has not been selected for reply.
Try being Nelson or George Washington.
PETER, AH MEAN BRIAN, what happen to the Ottley Hall money?
Brian Alexander, ah hear Police pick you up at work. Is that true?
I hear they throw you in the back of the Squad Truck and carried you to the Main Station? Is that true, Peter, ah mean, Brian?
Why did they pick you up, Brian?
Did it have anything to do with the missing money from PH Veira?
Teofilo Colon Jr:
There is a new book that discusses the history of the Garifuna (then known as "Black Caribs") of St. Vincent pre-1797. It is called, "The Black Carib Wars: Freedom, Survival and The Making of The Garifuna" and it is by Guardian (U.K.) Journalist Christopher Taylor.
Culled from English and French Public Sources, the book details information about a rarely discussed period in Caribbean History, some of what is discussed is mentioned in some of the comments on this post.
It's closest book equivalent is the 1972 book, "The Rise and Fall of The Black Charaibs" by I. A Earle Kirby and C. I. Martin, who I believe are both from St. Vincent.
Teofilo Colon Jr.
Founder, Chief Writer and Editor of The Being Garifuna Website, Blog and Facebook Page. Beinggarifuna.com