Letter: Reparations, a questionable narrative hiding behind economic incompetence

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Dear Sir:

In a recent post, Michael A. Dingwall wrote: “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?” 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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11 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent points though you exaggerate Darwin’s racism (he believed so-called races had a common origin and was always opposed to slavery) and fail to acknowdge that Ralph Gonsalves is the father of the Caribbean slavery reparations movement: he didn’t join the movement, he created the movement.

  2. I was not aware that Ralph Gonsalves was indeed the father of “the Caribbean slavery reparations movement”. However, now that I am informed that it is he who started the movement here, it does not in any way surprise me.

    Was that act of his what one would otherwise call a true ‘Potemkin structure’ – a fake act of illusion intended to deceive? Who therefore was the Caribbean slavery reparations movement” intended victims? No doubt those here who are of little learning.

    I see also that a document written by this said man Ralph Gonsalves, and entirely designed for what one could only assume was for propaganda purpose and bearing the title “180th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY IN THE WEST INDIES: CASE OF SVG” has been published in another place recently.

    Is that published document of his, intended to be a deceptive curate’s egg? Is it entirely a ‘Potemkin structure’ presented especially for the purpose of propaganda at home and abroad too?

    In reading the same, one can hardly see how the British people could now be held responsible for his and his predecessor’s governmental failings, when during the retreat from empire, the British left us here according to his own words, many functioning industries, of which they are now truly sadly decimated.

    One can hardly hold those former Colonial powers responsible for such gross lack of care on our part and the eventual decline in our economic fortunes!

    In that published propaganda document too, Ralph Gonsalves makes no mention of the important fact that the Portuguese as a nation, were one of the biggest and most prolific buyers and transporters of African Slaves across the Atlantic Ocean and elsewhere.

    They were buying, enslaving, Transporting enslaved Africans and Indian peoples from Africa to India. Indians and African as enslaved peoples to all other parts of the globe. To India, to Africa, to Europe, the Americas and to the Caribbean. This sordid fact appears to have eluded our new “Lord and Master” Ralph Gonsalves memory!

    The Potemkin document negates to mention also the continued Grant Aided involvement of the EU as participants and the British government in particular in the likes of these noted acts as below:

    UK government signs contract for youth development programme in the Eastern Caribbean.

    ( https://caribbeannewsnow.com/2018/07/13/uk-government-signs-contract-for-youth-development-programme-in-the-eastern-caribbean/ )

    CDB, UK sign agreement to add £30 million to Caribbean infrastructure fund.

    ( https://caribbeannewsnow.com/2018/08/07/cdb-uk-sign-agreement-to-add-30-million-to-caribbean-infrastructure-fund/ )

    Therefore, how will this propaganda document be received by a populace here in SVG who has sadly turned their own foolish self-hatred into an irrefutable art form, and who have moreover internalised that “a superior race doctrine” of Charles Darwin, (a failed theological scholar) and his generation of evolutionist, to our common hurt.

    According to our known Bible there is but only one race of men, “the human race”, and many nations of men. However, for Charles Darwin and his contemporaries, there were to be found many races of men on God’s earth and those races had “descended,” indeed evolved as it were, from one lower form of animal to a higher! Western Europeans being the highest and superior race of men.

    The question therefore is, have I there exaggerate Darwin’s racism and the profound ramifications of his harmful ideas that have resulted in so much of today’s Caribbean “mental slavery”?

    In Darwin’s lesser known work “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex” Darwin lays out the purpose of his text thus:

    “The sole object of this work is to consider, firstly, whether man, like every other species, is descended from some pre-existing form; secondly, the manner of his development; and thirdly, the value of the differences between the so-called races of man.”

    The conclusion that was then subsequently adapted was, according to the then prevailing ideology, was that those peoples of African descent whom they were now enslaving, had evolved the least of the races of men, African peoples were least developed as human beings. In fact it was questionable as to whether they were “human” at all!

    So was Charles Darwin there by his conclusion guilty of racism? The answer for me is quite unequivocal, yes he was, just like so many who follow him in like thoughts today!

    But on the 180th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY IN THE WEST INDIES, we should take note of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that German Philosopher, (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) when he has this to say, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free”!

    • As you said, Darwin qualified the word “race” with the term “so-called” to emphasize that there was then as there is now only one race of humans based on the acceptance that all humans belong to a singe genus, species, and sub-species called “Homo sapiens sapiens” defined by the fact that all members can easily inter-breed with each other.

      There were indeed different races — or sub-species — of Homo sapiens such as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis who also interbred, probably with some genetic difficulty, with fully modern human being before they died or were killed out.

      The scientific concept of race, as applied to humans, even at the time of Darwin, was considered to be a social construct not a scientific one to describe different varieties of the same species or sub-species, the reason he used the term “so-called” which then as now meant a false usage of a word.

  3. James H, you are white, a Dufus… and diametrically opposed to black people’s progress. That is a fact… don’t doubt it! It is all there in your writings.
    We already know too, that you are even a bigger idiot than Michael Dingwall and ben-David, unable to resist this foolish racist urge to indulge yourself in writing stupidness like your heading and all that follows, against the case for reparations.

    James H, if that’s your name… or maybe I’ll just call you Ben. What in heaven’s name brought you here, and why do you choose to identify with “us” as in your use of the word “our” this, or our that… etc you are not one of us!

    And, furthermore, who gave you the impression that, “Most young people, (Caribbean nationals—-Vincentians) only has one main thing on their minds –“…how to migrate to North America and Europe,” which is indeed very, very true…” Are you out of your cotton picking mind!!??

    James H, all of us are just hoping to ‘… get by’ somehow. And most of us are still struggling while we go about finding and seeking the ways and the means to “get by.” How about you? I bet you have no problem “getting by.

    I bet you must be some white boy, sorry man, whose parents probably ended up with a lot of the slave’s money, and you get to spend some of it while vacationing and traveling through the Caribbean on the family Yacht. Maybe you might even be into journalism, and write a lot of foolishness for some Caribbean magazine… probably sits on the editorial board too.

    Too much idle time on your hands Ben, I mean James. You just couldn’t resist the racist urge to jump on this reparations issue eh? To come here with your diss-jointed BS of an article, to remind us that…”black folks are lesser than whites, especially American whites, the world’s richest, who can do as they please, under the “The Power of Money… ” banner? Hogwash!

    Concerning the reparations money matter, I see that you’re worried about losing all those proposed trillions owed to “us”, as the figures continue to roll in. Well indeed, you ought to be worried, for if you were in the right, you wouldn’t have to worry, but since you’re in the wrong, you need to worry.

    There is no getting away from you and yours paying up when the figure comes in James. Rant as much as you want but you ‘gonna pay, yes you gonna pay’…cause you should have known better… that what you did then and continue to do was/is wrong in the eyes of the living God. God do not like ugly, and the Atlantic slave trade was UGLY!

    Those who are in the right don’t have to worry, we know our cause is “the right cause, a just cause, and we will be victorious in the end, in time.”

    Time is on our side…yes it is! Time is on our side… yes it is!

  4. Is this the best that you can do in defence of your master’s calculating and manipulatively recent ‘Potemkin structured’ post on past slavery Vinciman?

    For sure, it is well known that the Ralph Gonsalves family and their ULP party is not at all any good for job creation here in SVG, quite apart from the other sad disadvantages they bring to this nation of ours that includes unparalleled murders, gross street muggings, rampant burglaries, high taxation and a live environment more fitting for stray dogs and rats.

    Here, for your information you halfwit, is what we read today in another place. “Migration of nurses and midwives in CARICOM, a cause for concern.”

  5. James H or better yet Ben, you wrote, among other things “is this the best that you [I] can do…”

    On the contrary I think I’m doing better than most when it comes to detecting fraudsters and mercenary writers, who use multiple names lime Peter Binose, Michael Dingwall, Jolly Green, and James H, plus all those other pseudonym’s in the comment section, posting all that drivel, to spread fake news and downright lies, about my country our PM and government… all the while on the editorial board of a popular caribbean news site, pretending to be a Vincentian… downright despicable behavior!

    You have been unmasked fool…so on that note, who’s the halfwit now.

  6. Why Vinciman can you not deal with refuting the subject matter that was there put forward before you, namely that your master was seeking to give us a possible curate’s egg by virtue of the fact that he happens to be Prime Minister. A sly, calculating and cunning fellow if there ever was!

    The published document of his marking the 180th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY IN THE WEST INDIES lacks credibility. Any thinking person can readily see that your master’s presented a document, is seemingly intended for the purpose of propaganda. Propaganda to deceive us here at home and no doubt others abroad.

    In presenting his questionable rambling case there was an attempt by him to make the British peoples and undisclosed others responsible for his government economic and social failings, when the facts are that during the retreat from empire, the British left us here in SVG, according to Ralph’s himself own words, many functioning industries, of which they are now truly sadly none, all well ruined.

    Indeed one can hardly hold the British responsible for such gross lack of care on his part and the eventual decline in our country’s economic fortunes. The weakening of the very fabric of our social structures. A dilapidated country, a state of almost uncontrollable lawlessness, gross muggings, an unprecedented murder rate, burglaries of all sorts, increasingly higher and higher taxation and a feeling of hopelessness throughout the population, particularly among the jobless that happens to be almost half our population.

    In that deceitful propaganda document of his, Ralph there makes no mention of the very, very important fact that the Portuguese as a nation, were one of the biggest and the most prolific buyers/sellers and transporters of African Slaves across the Atlantic Ocean and elsewhere. Facts that he being of Portuguese descent cannot easily dismiss nor keep hidden!

    The Portuguese as a nation were indeed very, very busy buying/selling, enslaving, transporting the enslaved Africans and Indian peoples whom they took from Africa to India and to Europe and the Americas.

    They took enslaved Indians to African, and they took enslaved Africans to India, as they also took all those enslaved peoples from one place to another. They bought, sold and transported slaves to all parts of the globe. The Portuguese part as slavers and transporters of slaves, is indeed well documented, as are the documented misery that followed in their wake.

    Indeed misery and death went from India and Africa to Europe, the Americas and to the Caribbean and such cannot be placed at the feet of the British alone. The Portuguese as cruel slavers must take full responsibility too for their sordid trade of enslavement and brutality likewise, but this terrible fact, appears to have eluded our new “Lord and Master” Ralph Gonsalves memory! Why do you think that was the case Vinciman?

    In this now 180th years on from THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY in the Caribbean it brings to mind Bob Marley’s lyrics in the song “Concrete Jungle” in which he sings, “No chains around my feet but I’m not free, I know I am bound here in captivity”! We have indeed forged for ourselves through our own stupidity new masters and a new Papa!

    Bob Marley knew of this salient truism and expressed it as such. However Malcolm X (1925 –1965, that courageous advocate for the rights of black people) for his part once added “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it!”

    It is however very hard to see, how those here in SVG, and who are profoundly trapped in “mental slavery” in addition, hard to see how they will ever find the ability or the way with it all to free themselves, when the prevailing narrative being voiced is one of us as helpless victim in need of reparations.

  7. You Ben- James out of some false pride and the seemingly unscrupulous “I don’t care” attitude that you project, even after being “fingered” for the theft of other peoples writings (plagiarizing) and your leanings towards and love for this and other corrupt practices( it’s in your genes), you will never admit to being the fraud and mercenary propagandist that you are.

    Moreover, as we see, you will continue to dodge the truth and the fact that I have dealt with the “subject matter”… the “subject” (you) and the “matter” (your dishonesty) for the most part, and I’m quite sure we’ve been down this road before, sometime in the past.

    I also gather from your tail wagging response Ben, and your silence on me naming and calling you out, that you’ve conceded, and so you realize that Vinciman is not about to let go of this laughable “thematic unveiling” of this doo-fuss (Dufus) who sat by the door; “Honesty doesn’t always pay, but dishonesty has its cost”.

    However, now that I can put a face to your “so many names”, I feel much more at ease responding to your “nonsense”. I never took you and your crap seriously before, and as for now, I’ll be more lenient towards you, having realize that you’re simply a nuisance a waste of time, and treat you accordingly.

    Nevertheless, I will continue to point my middle finger in your face and dare you to knock it away, you running dog and apologist for the criminally insane neo-colonialist vis a vis capitalist English mercenary racist clan; Don’t doubt it! It’s all in your writings, especially under the pseudonym Michael Dingwall.

    Have a good day, until “reparations” catch up with you, Dufus!

  8. Dear Observer please do tell us this, is there something in the water here that have the effects of producing numbskulls and idiotic dunces like you in SVG, or is your inability to communicate entirely due to the fact that you had spent all of your school moneys on docla and sugar cakes?

    George Gordon Byron, (Lord Byron 22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824) British nobleman, poet, peer of the realm, and a former politician, was so correct when expressing the following sentiment “Nothing can confound a wise man more than laughter from a dunce”.

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