By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
July 26, 2021
By the rivers of Babylon/Where we sat down/And there we wept/When we remembered Zion.
But the wicked carried us away in captivity/Required from us a song/How can we sing King Alpha song/ In a strange land?
—Jimmy Cliff, “Rivers of Babylon”
Two Fridays ago Brian Lehrer interviewed me on his radio show on WNYC (New York) about Jamaica’s most recent petition to Britain for $10.5 billion (US) in reparation for the damage done to our people during slavery. I informed Lehrer that Jamaicans have been battling Spain and Britain for the control of their lives and the product of their labor ever since those two countries enslaved and later colonized their country.
In the 1970s I visited Accompong where Captain Cudjoe, the leader of the 18th century Maroons, defeated the British. I wanted to meet my ancestors and physically experience the terrain over which they fought. While I was interviewing the leader of that group, his wife smiled at me and said: “You are one of us.” A few moments later, her grandson brought to me a wood carving of Captain Cudjoe upon which the following words were inscribed: “Accompong Cudjoe: Great Leader of the Maroons.” That wood carving adorns the entrance of my home.
Jamaicans have a long history of slavery and fought strenuously for their freedom. With the memory of slavery embedded in their consciousness they have used their resistance culture to energize their quest for liberation. Bob Marley remarked in an interview with Isaac Ferguson: “In my music I and I want people to see themselves. I and I are of the house of David. Our home is Timbuktu, Ethiopia, Africa where we enjoyed a rich civilization long before the coming of the European. Marcus Garvey said that a people without knowledge of their past is like a tree without roots.”
These sentiments shaped his song, “So Much Things to Say”: “I’ll never forget, no way: / They crucified Jessus Christ/ I’ll never forget, no way: / They sold Marcus Garvey for rice / So don’t you forget (no way) your youth / Who you are and where you stand in the struggle.” It was a message to Black people throughout the world.
It is no wonder, then, that in 1961 the Rastafarian Brotherhood petitioned Queen Elizabeth for 72.5 billion pounds (or $100 billion US) in reparations for the enslavement of Africans in Jamaica. They reasoned: how could Britain pay their enslavers 20 million pounds (100 billion dollars in today’s currency) for giving up their property (we may have been cattle for all they cared) without paying the enslaved one solitary cent for their centuries of enslavement.
The Rastafarian brothers petitioned Queen Elizabeth again for reparations when she visited Jamaica in 2002. They were in order. In 1776, forty members of the British parliament made their fortunes from investments in the Caribbean. Twenty-two years later, William Hardin Burnley arrived on our shores and made a fortune. When slavery ended, the British paid him 49,000 British pounds to release 900 slaves.
Burnley lived in Tacarigua from 1821 to 1850. My family and I, starting with my great grandparents, lived on Burnley’s land. Burnley’s brother-in-law was Joseph Hume, a Member of the British Parliament, who also profited from the labor of Trinbagonians. In 1833 Burnley sailed to England to protest against the British Parliament’s intention to free enslaved Trinbagonians.
In 1995 I wrote a short book, Tacarigua: A Village in Trinidad, in which I described Burnley’s presence in the island. I wrote: “Burnley saw the entire business of slavery as an economic enterprise in which the slaves were but so many bits of capital stock. To him, emancipation meant that he would be deprived of his ‘laboring hands’ and stock and he certainly could not have that.” I grew up seeing Burnley’s mansion every day.
On the evening that I launched my book on the Holy Ground Savannah (now the Eddie Hart Savannah) between St. Mary’s Church and Burnley’s mansion, Brother Resistance chanted down Babylon. He bellowed: “Is a long time now we fighting for freedom, victory bound to come/ I come with my bell just to second the motion, rock the rapso rhythm.”
Throughout the week we have been celebrating the life and work of Brother Resistance who, in many ways was carrying on the tradition of our chantwells, a continuation of our West African griots in action. He was part of our “revolutionary cultural workers” who strove to preserve our history, forced us to remember the revolutionary dimension of our culture, and to pour scorn on the vultures who strove to deny our humanity.
Next Sunday, Emancipation Day, we will celebrate the activities of those brothers and sisters who devoted their lives to freeing us from the iniquity of physical and mental slavery. The names of Nanny, Cudjoe, Louverture, Dessalines, Butler, Williams, James, and other freedom fighters will be featured prominently. However, we do them a disservice if we do not study their words, honor their legacy, and remember what they fought for.
The British government just finished paying the Rothschild (who loaned them the 20 million British pounds to pay to the slave owners) the interest on that loan in 2015. Malaika Jabali suggested: “It is a reminder that history that seems like a distant past is still very much shaping our present” (Essence, July 14, 2021).
All of us, in one way or another, are implicated in the drama of slavery. None of us can sing “the Alpha song” in a strange land without thinking of repairing the horrors of European slavery on Black people. How, indeed, do we recover, preserve, and honor the lost world/words of our fathers? That is the challenge.
27 thoughts on “Honorable Lives / Forgotten Worlds”
WATCH: Majority of Indians are racist: Malema
Malema might have a point about South African Indian people
Malema is a race expert like you Linda. South Africa Indian population is 2.5%. That means if there are 100 people in a room 97 are not Indians. 8.8% will be coloured. 8.4% will be white. 80.2% will be black Africans.
Malema is terrified of those 3 Indians. So much so that he have to place all kinds of labels on them. Why? Because Indians are the most progressive of all groups. They hate progressive people. There is enough room for all in the land but hatred, jealousy and envy have people like Malema constipated same as you Linda. Durban has a large Indian population and was subjected to the worst looting and vandalism by the black African population. Those scumbags cannot build a business but is eager like Lucifer to kill, steal and destroy.
Indians are peaceful, hard working, family oriented people. You will not find Indians looting, stealing or burning businesses. We work hard, the British saw that and brought them across the empire. The same businesses that black Africans destroyed were the ones paying taxes to give them a better life…isn’t it strange.
Social media reacts to Malema comments on Indians
Question Time: Malema’s Indian comments
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My thoughts on Malema is he should be thrown in jail. A leader that is using his position to spread racial hatred is not a leader but rather the devil in disguise.
The role of a leader is to bring people together for the common good of fighting sickness, disease, crime, unemployment, poverty and social ills. That means using money to build hospitals, police stations, community centers, sporting facilities, schools, universities, prisons, good roads, money for agriculture etc.
When a leader start behaving as a wajang and see all who opposes him as enemies, society suffers. We have seen those qualities in leaders. May we be spared such leaders.
Malema appeal is to a particular segment of his society. His appeal is to the arrogant, ignorant and those who feel they are victims of the economic system. A black man is in charge in South Africa and yet they whining, complain and spewing their post arphatheid rhetoric. Of no benefit to anyone except Linda….hmmm and her minions.
“…Indians are the most progressive of all groups” – Mamoo
“…Those scumbags (Native Africans) can’t build a business.”
” Indians are peaceful, hardworking…” – Mamoo
Inside The Gupta Heist Of South Africa
The total(ish) cost of the Guptas’ State Capture: R49…
Attacks on Africans expose India’s racist inclinations
Attacks on African students exposes our denial and double standards on racism
African woman forced to give urine sample in public during Bharti’s raid: Harish Salve
African victims of racism in India share their stories
“…Indians are the most progressive of all groups.” -Mamoo
“President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane was a director of at least one of the Gupta companies involved in the looting.”
Zuma have 22 children. The Guptas were able to take care of Zuma children by getting them well paying jobs. When you have big families you need a source of income.
It is the same the PNM is doing in sweet TnT. Linda what happen to the AV oil $90 million debanacle? Tax payers dollars disappeared. The $1.6 billion Lara Stadium that was suppose to cost $238 million. Petrotrin the facts:
2002 -Debts $3 1/4 billion
2010- Debt rose to $12 1/2 billion. (3 failed projects under the PNM)
2012-Profit $1.8 billion. (the last year to make a profit)
2013-2015 Loss $2 billion
2016-Loss $2 billion
2002 Petrotrin debt was $3 1/4 billion, it rose to $12 1/2 billion in 2010.
Petrotrin borrowed by putting out 2 bonds to finance 3 failed projects. They borrowed US $750 million in 2007 and US $850 million in 2009. Those bonds have to be repaid.
This was in 2019 Linda whilst you obsessing about South Africa and having org@$m thinking about the Guptas. You ignore the fact that TnT debt is over $130 billion….in 2021
Enjoy….the PNM and their cronies.
“But the massive borrowing continued. Public sector debt is now almost $100 billion, an increase of 29 per cent under this administration, spent “to maintain our lifestyle”. So, debt servicing has doubled and is now $8.76 billion or 20.5 per cent of revenue. This is reducing developmental expenditure and eroding foreign reserves which have dropped from US$11 billion in March 2015 to around $7.5 billion in December 2018. The IMF says reserves will decline to US$3 billion by 2022 or earlier as debt service increases. But our overvalued currency continues to subsidise imports to the detriment of our reserves; penalises exports and dampens “diversified growth in tourism, agriculture, services and manufacturing,” suggests chartered accountant William Lucie-Smith, to the detriment of revenues and employment. Economist Roger Hosein says the economy is “crawling” and could come to “a crashing halt”.
Yep the crash is ahead, when will the blights disappear from office????
Proud to be an Indian weathest group in the USA.
Prem Watsa CM (born 1950) is an Indian – Canadian billionaire businessman who is the founder, chairman, and chief executive of Fairfax Financial Holdings, based in Toronto. He has been called the “Canadian Warren Buffett.” He was awarded the fourth highest civilian award of India, Padma Shri, in January 2020
Globally Linda aka Inconvenient we are not loochos seeking to loot people goods and burn their buildings
In african diasporan spirituality, true christianity, and islam, one’s character is not defined by skin, hair, material possessions and financial wealth as in other faiths, but rather how one treats all god’s children.
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You are on a roll there, your copy and paste skills are enlightening. Continue to fight for Justice for the Dalits. I think you would be a good candidate to write the GOI. We need you.
I see you again show the inferior Africanas being advantaged by the superior Indians. Please don’t stop emancipation day is ahead.
Julius Malema’s response to the “Indian Question!!”
EFF Chair Dali Mpofu responds to ‘Indian’ racism remarks
“Next Sunday, Emancipation Day, we will celebrate the activities of those brothers and sisters who devoted their lives to freeing us from the iniquity of physical and mental slavery”
Certainly a time to celebrate the resilience of black people. From the bushes of Nigeria, Ghana, Congo to the bright lights of La Trinidad.
Better bush than…
The love you have shown to Hindus by highlighting the unjust caste system is awesome and shows how much you care about them. Linda I will give you the “Caste Cobo” Award. Your persistence will one day be rewarded. Keep up the copy and paste work.
But Linda like BLM you must take to the streets. Get my friend Yoru, Kian, Birdie to join you in mass protest against the unjust system and save my Dalit brothers from this level of discrimination. Indian Lives Matter (ILM). Let’s start there. I salute your effort at exposing the unjust system.
The ILM movement can raise funds to send you to protest in the streets of New Delhi in front of the Rastri Bavan.
Linda these people need your help… please I beg you. They not reading this you need to take this fight to the streets of Delhi, organise mass protest, shut the country down. Others have tried but the fire is in you. You go girl.
Information is liberation…for those who truly want freedom.
Sex, Death and the Gods (Indian Culture Documentary)
But Professor… Reparation is one thing… But money alone cannot mend the destruction done to Africans (especially here in TT).. Emascalition is so present in our society today, it’s one reason we are in such a state, now. It is only Mammaguy from them leaders…
Since ah small… they tell me, Trinidad is where they sent the ‘Bad” slaves..
Like the Indians, we too must indoctrinate our children about our past. The Jews will not allow ‘the Holocaust’ to die because the event represented a time in history when mankind treated them as chattel. So, with every religious service the memory of the Holocaust is taught along with Judaism. Some of Our African brothers and sisters allow others to dictate how we ought to remember the experience of our ancestors without taking into account the tragedies of our past. Take for example our calypso. It represents one of the means that we tell “our stories” yet we allow other people’s opinions to influence the validity of that part of our culture. On emancipation day it’s nice to see everyone dress in their dashiki but where to they go after that? They have no nagar to go to, they have no museum to go to, there is no simulation of our capture at the hands of Europeans and Arabs of our forefathers. We listen to some steel and then go home and look forward to next year. Why can’t we establish memorials that bears with witness to our presence in the island? We are a people with short memories and as long as we continue to ‘forget’ there will be those who will not forget to treat us as chattel.
The Unravelling Of Raymond Ramcharitar post 2015 elections that unseated his queen Kamla, and especially 2020 elections rejection of UNC & Kamla, reveals his true self.
Read his denigration of the recently acended Dr. Leroy Clarke:
And observe his post 2015, increasingly transparent UNC activism, which he always hid behind pseudo intellectual, “objective” critique. This is what indian politics and Hindutva produces…
The racist rant of Ramcharitar
I like that picture on Indo-caribbean.com as a true representation of what he is!
Interestingly, raymond is alleged to have “converted” to “christianity” at 13 thereabout. Coincidentally, i’m sure, it was around this time that he allegedly began secondary school at presentation college chaguanas (ask tman). What uncanny timing eh? For some reason unknown to me, that story reminds me of another one… faris al rawi’s grandfather.In his biography, it is noted that the politician known as Lionel “Frank” Seukeran (born Parasnath Lakshmi Prashad Sharma), had faked his christian identity, to fraudulently and specifically gain a coveted teaching position, at a christian (presbyterian) school. Could christians (especially african), have ever get away with that behaviour at either “Hindu” or other indian schools or organizations in the caribbean? Imagine that …fake name…fake declaration of faith…and went on to be politician! At least “Frank” , his daughter and grandson was honest about his political affiliation!
This is why Indian anti-black, anti-african racists hated Dr. Leroy Clarke:
Racial Divide Shadows Trindad
” about 15 years ago, they say, they were given 2,000 acres of remote swampland…The 16 farmers_all indo trinidadians_voted for Panday in 1995…”
They were given that land under NAR… what a coincidence it was when other indians (Sat Maharaj) was given Divali Nagar land. This is how NAR, UNC, PP and PNM indians facilitate the transfer of state land exclusively to the indian community. “The Bamboo” squatter settlement turned business center and the fraudulent usage of “Valsayn”, is the result of past PNM administrations allowing exclusively indian “farmers”, to access that previously uninhabited state land, to create food sustainability for the society. However, as per usual, hordes of indians used that opportunity to tusurp the landspace illegally as a settler colony for the indian community, their “legitimate” businesses and their UNCparty/temple. There is also the shameless, classless attempt to STEAL the name and land value of the Valsayn community, to drive up the property value of that squatter land area. Just as with all the other indian, UNC settler colonies, they try to pressure the past PNM administration to legitimize their illegality with state electrical and water infrastructure. This is all separate and apart from the much larger scale state (caroni) land giveaway bonanza of PNM patrick manning 2002-2010, where that imbecile iopened pandora’s box for 1000+ more “bamboo” realities. After may 24th 2010-2015, the then UNC/COP/PP goons placed in strategic positions, assisted the wholesale abuse of imbecile manning’s land giveaway by allowing the masses of indians to not use the land for farming as manning and PNM intended, but to build businesses, homes and sell to other indians. As if that isn’t enough, masses of indian, non-former caroni workers, have swarmed the acreage of lands surrounding the legitimate sanctioned allocated plots, and set up multi million dollar businesses that in turn fund and support UNC. These are the same persons who love to wolf cry “racism”, “crime”, and “corruption” agaibst the PNM and african people (their victims).
Africans are real victims in TnT. Best they make a one way flight to the fatherland. There is lots of room and for years Nigeria has been begging for their return. Obviously Hindus are scaring our black brothers and sisters. Inconvenient a repatriation airplane with a one way flight from TnT to Nigeria is only 5 hours away. A short trip to eternal bliss.
Take Rowley with you to Linda his family is from Ghana.
Going home is a blessing and surely Africans who feel they are dispossessed mistreated and alienated will feel better in the land of their ancestors. Incovenient Linda will feel the joy as her tired legs step on the soil of her homeland. The homeland of Kuntakente. The homeland of Kofi Anand. The homeland of her brothers and sisters. I see the tears in her eyes. Instead of staying in Trinidad and being subjected to such humiliation.
An indian trinidadian (mamoo), who references breitbart news, and whose ethnic group first arrived in T&T in 1845 as a minority of 225 contact labourers, Vs. a population of 10,000 africans that were there 330+ years at that point, and whose forefathers were first enslaved and shipped to trinidad in 1517, is being told by this supposedly indian trinidadian (mamoo), to…. Go back to africa in 2021 as a resolution to indian racism?
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Again another copy and paste by Linda. A lot of Indians would have returned to India. The hindrances is distance and overpopulation.
This emancipation day Linda you can find true liberation from your Hindu friends or enemies. Just take up the challenge of returning to the fatherland. Happy Emancipation Day weekend to all.
Yes certainly a time to celebrate and remember the past but don’t live in it.
The Prime Minister was correct in his Emancipation Day speech
He summarised one writer who suggested that, since emancipation, “new world”– Africans were still struggling. They were trying to heal their wounds and “re-make themselves” but are “trapped” by the effects of a post-traumatic slave syndrome and walls of institutional racism. Their positive contributions and accomplishments were still being overlooked and under-appreciated, while negative connotations were applied to them whether applicable or not.
But in TT, he said, “We are no man’s property, but part of humanity. There are no limits to what we can become. Afro-Trinidadians do not see themselves as mentally, physically, culturally, or spiritually inferior.
I must agree with the Prime Minister here. He suggests that
Institutional racism against does not exist in T&T.
People like Miss. Inconvenient Truth should focus less on discrediting the culture, religion and habits of others in T&T society and become more pre-occupied with uplifting and assisting the underprivileged and disadvantaged in their own ranks.
“I must agree with the Prime Minister here…” Tman
This is the type of paternalistic racism and backhanded, deceitful comments that continues to define tman’s presence on this blog, as well as the general indian mentality towards african history and social, political, economic and religious movements.Whether tman agrees with what africans say about their celebration of their ancestors or not is completely out of place and irrelevant to the actual celebration and it’s meaning to african people.
“He suggeststs that institutional racism does not exist in T&T…”
Tman LIES… AGAIN
Wherever you have racists congregating, institutionalizeD racism will exist and thrive;especially when the roots of that racism is in their religion and culture.
Their religious institutions will be racist,
their social institutions will be racist,
their political institutions will be racist,
their educational institutions will be racist,
their economic institutions will be racist and
their political institutions wilk be racist
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