Spreading Planter Propaganda

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
May 21, 2017

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeI am sorry I am only now getting back to Kamal Persad’s response to my article, “Getting It Right” (March 26). I noted: “While Indians were treated in a horrible, inhumane manner…, there is no doubt the Indians were brought to Trinidad to undercut the progress that Africans were making at the economic front.”

I argued further that the sole rationale for sending Indians to the Caribbean and Mauritius in 1836 was, as John Gladstone, stated: “It is of great importance to us to endeavor to provide a portion of other laborers, whom we might use as a set-off, and, when the time for it [emancipation] comes, make us, as far as possible, independent of our negro population” (John Scoble, Hill Coolies, 1840).

Persad claims “I got it wrong” (Express, March 27).

This is the essence of his refutation to my position: “Emancipation in Trinidad had a devastating economic impact on ‘low density’ colonies when the free blacks withdrew their labor from the sugar plantations or were unreliable. Plantations were abandoned or were overgrown with bush or were in an unkempt state. Donald Woods…recorded ‘Lord Harris reported that the whole colony was in a miserable state. May 1848 was the blackest month. By then the colony coffers were empty” (Express, March 27).

Persad does not challenge my major contention. Instead, he quotes a secondary source (Donald Woods), who quotes Lord Harris who arrived in the island in 1846, and whose quoted views reflected the economy of 1848. Almost invariably, serious scholars consult primary sources.

First: the productivity of black labor at the end of emancipation. The Trinidad Standard reported that the sugar crop of 1839 was larger than the crop of 1838, the year apprenticeship ended. It noted that the 1839 crop will be “clear surplus revenues as compared with the preceding year” (Anti-Slavery Reporter, February 12, 1840).

Sir Lionel Smith, governor of Jamaica (1836-39) made another observation. He said: “What was wanting was not more labour, but better treatment of the laborers. People who offer fair wages and punctually pay them, who rent cottages at a just price and for a secure tenancy, can get as many laborers as they want. And if there are persons who cannot, it is because their dreadful habits of oppression disqualify them to secure the confidence and industry of free laborers” (Anti-Slavery Reporter, February 12, 1840).

Second: with regard to the withdrawal of black labor from the plantations and their purported “unreliability.” On July 29, 1840, Mr. Prescod, a colored gentleman, wrote “The Alleged Deficiency of Labor” published in the Anti-Slavery Reporter:

“I admit at once that since Emancipation, some of the Negroes formally engaged in field labor have withdrawn themselves to other occupations. But I deny that, in any one of the colonies, this has been in the proportion, or anything like it, which the planter advocates have people believe.

“Mr. Burnley of Trinidad [the biggest resident slave owner in the Caribbean], in his letter to Lord John Russell [Secretary of State] which was copied into the Reporter on 22nd April [1840], writes eloquently about a middle class of shopkeepers and traders which has sprung up from the wreck of slavery to supply the wants of the emancipated slaves, no longer dependent on the supplies of their masters; and he infers from this, as a thing of course, that a diminution of labor equivalent to the number of persons composing the middle class, has taken place.

“In theory perhaps, this may all be fine; but did the experienced Mr. Burnley not happen to know, that the former free people, possessing to some extent that capital which the emancipated generally wanted, were the more likely persons to step in and compose this middle class, and that, in the very fact, they do compose it.”

Prescod continues: “Some of the emancipated Negroes have become shopkeepers and traders; the plantation tradesmen, who were also occasionally employed in agriculture, have almost to a man taken entire to their trades; some have purchased or leased small allotments of land; and settled down independently: several mothers of families (principally in Jamaica) have retired from the fields to the duties of home and the young children instead of picking grass or tending cattle, all now in great numbers at school.”

Neither Woods nor William Green who Persad quotes can help us on these matters. One has to go to original sources—which I have done—to understand the lies the planters were spreading about black people and which Persad, without the necessary information, continues to disseminate.

I end with Prescod’s words to give Persad a sense of the tenacity of human beings who set out to build a new life after slavery: “First, sir, is it not reasonable to suppose—does it not accord with all we know of human nature and the laws that govern it, that the free man, working for a fair hire, will work more cheerfully and efficiently—will do more work, than the hated slave, who is driven to work for nothing?”

Wasn’t this the point Adam Smith and Eric Williams made in their path-breaking works?

To all my Indian brothers and sisters: HAPPY INDIAN ARRIVAL DAY.

10 thoughts on “Spreading Planter Propaganda”

  1. Seems like the moderators are censoring my blogs. My views are not insulting nor are they disrespectful. WHY? WHY? WHY???????

    1. Kian,
      I have been absent for some time. On my recent return to the blog, I find my posts do not get through…
      Either something is wrong, or something has changed. I wonder what.

      1. Welcome back Yoruba, I am glad to see you back because we were going into a lull here and the appetite for knowledge was not happening. There appears to be a new group of editors who seem to be scrutinizing and to some degree censoring. I myself have lost quite a few blogs that I felt were important to share with the group.

        Anyway, dont let that hold you back, there is a lot happening my brother, we need inform each other.

  2. “I argued further that the sole rationale for sending Indians to the Caribbean and Mauritius in 1836 was, as John Gladstone, stated: “It is of great importance to us to endeavor to provide a portion of other laborers, whom we might use as a set-off, and, when the time for it [emancipation] comes, make us, as far as possible, independent of our negro population” (John Scoble, Hill Coolies, 1840).”

    Seems like this vision is still very much with us today. The British a first class psychologists who have used every means at their disposal to survive, even when they were outnumbered the devised ways and means of maintaining their “minority” status while injecting the poison of racism to keep their privileged role of “the plantation owners”. In a country in which they are citizens for more than 150 years, the Indians remain suspect as to the loyalty of nation building. Relatively speaking, no effort was spared to accommodate the Indians on terms that were more favorable to them than the Africans ever could have imagined. The African had no say in his departure from Africa nor did he have any say in his arrival in the new world. He did not have any say in the composition of his familial life at the same time he had no say interns of where he would settle, buiLd a home and plan progress. The Independence that we celebrate today from 1962, was one negotiated in which the Indians demanded conditions upon which it should be granted to us ……an yet??
    They are still not happy. The famous and constantly reminded comment of Dr. Eric Williams that Indians love to quote “Indians are a recalcitrant minority” was not made in a vacuum as many like to remind us. If it were, then any reasonable person should condemn it. It was made at a time when we were negotiating our separation from the British and Indians were afraid of not having their guarantors (the British) not present to ensure the terms of their ‘arrivals” (the contracts they signed for their indentureship. Dr. Capildeo was both indignant and persistent that conditional safeguards be put in place to ensure the place of the Indians during Independence. We should never forget the threats offered by the current Leader of the Opposition …”THERE WILL BLOOD IN THE STREETS” (if they did not have their way). Is it any wonder that we are still worrying about the loyalty of the Indian?

    We like to paint pretty pictures of ourselves as “all ah we is one”, “Trini ah paradise”, “Trini is god’s country”, “god is ah Trini”, “Trinidad is a melting pot” etc etc etc we are the home of cote see cote la. In the past there were honest efforts between Africans and Indian to make Trinidad and Tobago a place for all. Many Indians have fought alongside their African brothers to make the conditions in which we live better. And we should recognized that. But in times of challenge, the Indian political directorate always steps in to ensure that the divide with which the British brought them to enforce remains.

    It is no surprise today, that many citizens (both Indians and Africans) want to pay their fair share of taxes, confident that government recognizes their ownership of real estate and proud of being citizens of this land be honored as tax paying citizens. The Opposition? Well lets say, they have something else in
    mind. The war cry of Frederick Douglas ring in their ears constantly, ‘agitate agitate agitate’. The Yoruba stadium is finally opened and the greatest cricketer in the world invites his friend from India to celebrate and be part of our heritage. But a person of no lesser stature that that of former Governor of the Central Bank steps in to ensure that such celebration occurs.

    We are witnessing the disruption of travel between Trinidad and Tobago with no explainable reason why it is happening. There were countless fires in the offices of WASA after they lost the last election. Massive amount of money was spent to align politically with the Tobago entity. Chrislyn Moore, Jack, Watson and many more were agents of the opposition to keep Tobago within the boundaries of the Opposition, but they failed to carry Tobago. Hilton Sandy was so afraid of the overt courting of these individuals that the coined the words “Calcutta Ship” to refer to this effort. Of course the comment is constantly coined in negative and racially charged terms to indict Mr. Sandy but no one will admit that he used it to describe the overt intention of the political directorate to change their way of life in Tobago.

    1. Kian:

      Thank you for the welcome back. And thank you for being the good soldier that you are, remaining on guard, and holding fast to duty.

      …”THERE WILL BLOOD IN THE STREETS” (if they did not have their way). Is it any wonder that we are still worrying about the loyalty of the Indian?

      My assessment, in the light of the Indian Policy, is that they are working that seditious plan, the first item of which is to “make the country ungovernable”. Why? They have no good reason. They merely wish to hold the reins of Government, and to “make the niggas (sic) … slaves” (item #3 of the same Indian Policy).

      That is a seditious document under applicable statute. And to the extent they’re working a plan to “make blood flow” in the streets, they’re subject to arrest and to be jailed without bail. They should consider that.

      Actually, I just heard someone say on radio that there is concrete evidence of SABOTAGE, involving 1) Brian Lara Stadium, and 2) the inter-island ferries.

      WHO is guilty may perhaps best be answered by answering the question who has motive … and plainly stated intent.

      It is no longer a question of questionable loyalty, it is a question of actionable sedition, actionable insurrection. Both are against the law. Perhaps we need to remind the PM that he is sworn to uphold the law, among others without FEAR.

      May the Most High expose those guilty of SABOTAGE in this country, that they may be brought to justice. And may He protect the innocent whatever be the nefarious INTENT and ACTION of the disloyal sectarian minority in our midst.


      P.S. Let us see if this passes our new censors!

      1. Yoruba, we welcome you back with open arms and it remains my hope that Alysssa will do the same. I am becoming weary of the PNM. Not for the same reason that the media fervently expresses. In any civilized society the culprits who terrorize our society would be caught and brought to justice. Just take for example the following:

        1. The burning and destroying of papers in the EFCL.
        2. The many fires in the offices of WASA.
        3. The unfinished works of the Pos largest contractor
        – SIS.
        4. The bankruptcy of the highway contractor – OAS.
        5. The sudden fiasco with the Galicia.
        6. The sudden ‘problems’ with the Spirit and Express.
        7. The stuffed clothes in the sewer line to clog up
        the Toruba sewer system.
        8. The unbalanced finances of every department of State
        when the PP govt left office
        9. The untruths told about the ‘Children’s Hospital’
        (a) Was it a gift of the Chinese or a loan from
        (b) Where is the plan not just to put up a building
        but to staff and service it?
        10. What really went on in Chaguaramas vis a vis leasing
        of lands and awarding contracts?
        11. What happened to prison gate?
        12. Are there going to be any investigation of the

        These are just about a very few of the many questionable acts of disproportionate behavior that the PP Opposition has to answer. We are tired of AlWari telling us that they are looking into it. We are tired of Rowley seemingly legal patience with these dastardly acts that may be attributed to the “BLOOD IN THE STREETS” and “making this country ungovernable” comments. These comments are more dangerous and likely to cause harm than the “Calcutta ship” and “recalcitrant minority” regurgitation that is thrown in our faces every day.

        Anand Ramlogan’s favorite Court house in the San Fernando magistracy. Does anybody wonder about that? He almost never take his cases to Port Of Spain. Does anyone wonder about that? There are names associated with questionable rulings. There are names like Judith Jones, Mira Amorer, Mendonca, Seepasad, Kokopram, Boodoosingh, Jamadar and others whose decisions sometimes hit us like a ton of bricks. We need judges and magistrates whose judgements hinges on both the letter and spirit of the law. When those tests appear to have been bypassed in favor of something that suits political agendas, then we have to worry about our pillars of democracy. We are not all lawyers and people of the cloth, but we know and understand when something is immoral and when judgements appear to not meet basic standards of good law keeping.

        We feel that Rowley and AlWari are allowing way too much to go by unattended. Why don’t we a a permanent Police Commissioner? We have heard the excuses but we NEED to have a permanent Police Commissioner in place. We need an Integrity Commission that is staffed with people of integrity. Words have meanings and actions should meet the standard of the words they represent. We are impatient with the patience of Dr. Rowley and AlWari to continue to allow our country to fall apart because those who did not enjoy being sent back in government don’t give a damn about our progress. I am sure that there are many like me who feel that way.

    2. I am not sure that our friend Yoruba on his “self- adulation” return got his facts correct.
      This is how history recorded it!

      1. resisting authority or control; not obedient or compliant; refractory.
      2. hard to deal with, manage, or operate.
      Did Dr. Eric Williams brand all Indians “a hostile and recalcitrant minority”? And, why did he make such a statement?
      Excerpt from Dr. Winston Mahabir
      “When the PNM lost the Federal Election in 1958, Eric Williams looked no futher than the Indians for a scapegoat. In a most unfortunate speech he branded them as ‘a hostile and recalcitrant minority.’

      “My wife and I arrived late at Woodford Square on the evening of that speech, while he was in the middle of his diatribe. I got an unusually subdued round of applause as I reached the platform to hear Eric Williams reveal something to the effect that he was not speaking about Indians like myself.
      “It emerged that there were good Indians like myself and bad Indians like those who voted against the PNM. The speech and the experience were traumatic events in my life. I made my reactions abundantly clear to him that very evening. From that night onwards I never realy felt comfortable with Eric Williams. I felt USED, COMPROMISED, DECIEVED.” (Winston Mahabir, speech at University of California October 16, 1965).

      1. While I will not challenge your meaning of the word ‘recalcitrant’ I wish to produce a dictionary meaning
        that differs with yours:

        “recalcitrant |rəˈkalsətrənt|
        having an obstinately uncooperative attitude toward authority or discipline: a class of recalcitrant fifteen-year-olds.
        a person with an obstinately uncooperative attitude.
        recalcitrance |rəˈkalsətrəns| noun.
        recalcitrantly adverb
        mid 19th century: from Latin recalcitrant- ‘kicking out with the heels,’ from the verb recalcitrare, based on calx, calc- ‘heel.’”

        Dr. Winston Mahabir broke with the PNM and made racial charges that some may agree with and others don’t. I am in no position to challenge him because that is his version of it. But mine and many who were attuned to its use are of the view that, it was directed to the DLP (UNC) led by Dr. Capildeo, who were not supportive of the fight for independence. Dr. Williams wanted a united front to negotiate with the British at Marlborough House, but
        Dr. Capildeo will have none of it.
        When he finally assented, he extracted special conditions from Dr. Williams that sought to protect the Indians. Dr. Williams found that to be unacceptable but relented. This, according to most, was the time when Dr. Williams stressed on the comment. It was not a comment used in a vacuum, but addressed to the DLP(UNC) party in particular.

        I would be out of place to argue with Dr. Mahabir, because it is his account (his-story). But many familiar with the topic do not see that way. Anyway, since it is conflicting history it would be nice if those familiar with the history, would lend their understanding of it.

        1. Yes, Kian, all that is fine.

          Butttt…. as Alyssa was wont to say … his game is to take you off the scent. Recalcitrance is no longer the issue.

          See my reply to him…


      2. I said nothing about “recalcitrant”. That question has been well litigated, and judgment rendered.

        The “East Indian” in T&T is indeed a recalcitrant minority. This is a simple matter of fact well admitted by the East Indian himself. They looked at the Jamaican model where the East Indian, whether by choice or otherwise, went the route of assimilation. East Indian leaders in T&T rejected that option.

        Hence they opted for recalcitrance — refusing to stay in societal solution as part of the creole calalloo. That is a matter of simple, unfortunate FACT.

        What Williams meant subjectively by his statement of FACT is another matter. Certainly he and the PNM proffered what in S. Africa Mandela called a “non-racial democracy”, where “ev’ry creed and race finds an equal place”. Nothing in PNM governance over the years gave the East Indian any call to claim oppression or victimhood. And there are no educational, health, income, employment or other statistics that would belie that claim. What we do know is that Williams was echoing words used by Nehru, who had his own Hindutva RSS recalcitrants in India to deal with, as he set about trying to create a secular, democratic India. Fat chance in brahminist India. Today Nehru’s recalcitrants are in charge under BJP government.

        In any case, the East Indian in these parts has since traversed a trail that makes the matter quotidian.

        From clearly stated ANIMUS (FEM Hosein, Vidia Naipaul, Maha Sabha), they moved to RECALCITRANCE. From recalcitrance they have since moved to SEDITION; see the Indian Policy document; see Panday’s call to make the country ungovernable (Item #1 of Indian Policy), since escalated by Mrs. Persad-Bissessar to “make BLOOD flow”. From sedition they have moved to INSURRECTION, as evidenced by SABOTAGE.

        This is the quotidian trail: ANIMUS -> RECALCITRANCE -> SEDITION -> INSURRECTION/SABOTAGE.

        I for one am heartily sick of it. I for one refuse to continue to bend over any longer, whether forwards or backwards.

        Like Kian, I too am increasingly disgusted with Dr. Rowley and his team. He was elected because the people thought he had the requisite BRAINS and BACKBONE to deal with the problem. At the moment I am seeing neither. Some wajang! Some Rottweiler!

        It is as though he does not appreciate the full gravity of the situation he, and the country, are in. Instead of going on the offensive, and crushing this incipient INSURRECTION, he is letting them set the agenda with minor and utter nonsense like cellphone roaming charges and alleged Ministerial over-spending. In the larger chess game, the invitation to sacrifice that Ministerial pawn does not have to be entertained, even for a second!

        He is right to say “gimme a break”, but he needs to go from being on the defensive over relatively small matters, and go resolutely on the offensive over a security threat to the state and to his very rule: SEDITION and INSURRECTION/SABOTAGE!

        Btw, Item #2 of the Indian Policy explains the game plan under which they can put Rowley on the back-foot: “Our people must undermined (sic) this nigga (sic) government and work assiduously in collecting and disseminating information to our personnels (sic)”. The very Government has been made to leak like a sieve!

        They are not only sabotaging the likes of Brian Lara Stadium and the inter-island ferries (endangering lives thereby, actually), they are sabotaging the very Government itself. They have spies all over.

        Dr. Rowley needs to wake up. He will find the option of raising sheep in Tobago might actually soon not be available to him. And neither to his children. See Item #3 of the Indian Policy: “make the niggas (sic) your slaves”.

        So, the question is not about what Williams said about the recalcitrant minority. And I refuse to be side-tracked into that hoary history.

        The question facing the nation, today, is that that recalcitrant minority has morphed into a seditious insurrection, actively wreaking SABOTAGE, and putting the very nation-state at risk.

        The idea of a non-racial democracy can only work if all segments of the society agree to operate under the rule of LAW. Otherwise, those who sabotage the very social contract upon which their tranquility and security depend, will find, as it was with the W.I. Federation, the strange arithmetic to apply where one from many will leave nought!

        Word to the wise!

        May the Most High wake up our leaders who seem to be asleep at the wheel, that they may fully appreciate the gravity of our situation. And give them the brains and backbone to deal with it as the Law and Constitution require they must, and to which they and we are committed, –still for the time being,– pursuant to the Supreme Law, that of the Holy Covenant, under which we must uphold our oaths and sacred honour… until the enemy relieves us of that obligation by repeated breaches.

        For the time being, I say


        PS. But there comes a time when enough is enough!

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