By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
February 28, 2012
For the past five hundred years, the world has been under the sway of what deceased Guyanese anthropologist Dr. Ivan Van Sertima once called the “five hundred year curtain”. This geo-political curtain goes under the rubric of the European system of governance — a paradigm whose spinal cord is Divide & Rule.
This model has enabled Europeans to maintain, cement and perpetuate their global power control since the 15th century.
By way of elucidation, this system was introduced on the plantation during the heyday of the European enslavement of African people. For example, if there were 1,000 slaves, then, the European slave-master divided them into 100 house-servants versus 900 field-hands.
As Malcolm X delineates: On the plantation, “there were two kinds of Negroes-the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negro always look out for his master. When the field Negro got too much out of hand, he held him back in check. They did not kill him; they sent some old house Negro along behind him to undo what he said. The house Negro lived better than the field Negro. He ate better. He dressed better. He lived in a better house. He lived right up near his master in the attic or the basement. He ate the same food his master ate and wore the same clothes and he could talk just like his master— good diction. And he loved his master more than his master loved himself. If his master got sick, he would say, ‘what’s the matter , Boss, we sick?’. And when his master’s house caught fire, he would try and put the fire out. He didn’t want his master’s house burnt. He never wanted his master’s property threatened and he was more defensive of it than his master. That was the house Negro. Then, you have the field Negro who lived in a hut. They had nothing to loose. They wore the worst kind of clothes. They ate the worst food and they caught hell. They felt the sting of the lash. They hated their master-oh, yes, they did. If the master got sick, they prayed that the master died. If the master’s house caught fire, they prayed for a strong wind to come along. This was the difference between the two.”
Hence, the field-hands had to be the ones to engage in slave revolts. They wanted to destroy the system, while the house-servants wanted to protect it.
In other words, the house-servants were psychologically and subliminally trained and conditioned to protect the European slave-master’s interests. They were his buffer zone.
In terms of power dynamics, the European slave-master had absolute power on the plantation, as in veto power, period. He controlled any and everything. This veto power not only resided in the slave-master’s mansion but it was also in the hands of only one person.
This was the system of governance on the European plantations in the 15th century — keep the slaves divided so as to secure European rule. And this successful divide and rule model (ploy) of governance has enabled Europeans to rule the planet for the past five hundred years and counting.
And fast-forwarding to the 1960s, when the descendants of these two 15th century plantation entities were now demanding political independence, as in freedom, from their former European slave-master (colonizer), Britain, it was no great surprise that Britain imposed that same but successful 15th century plantation system of governance on them.
At that time, it was successfully packaged as the Westminster system of government. Give me a break, please!
The Truth Be Told: The Euro– British Westminster system of government is absolutely nothing more than a new and improved successful 15th century plantation system of governance. As the adage goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Put another way, under this new and improved Euro-British two-party system of government, the members of the ruling government are now the descendants of the house-servants, while the members of the loyal opposition are viewed as the descendants of the field-hands.
Sadly, the legacy of the 15th century plantation acerbic hatred, antagonism and downright animosity that existed and were purposely perpetrated by Europeans between the two entities still exist in T&T as of this writing.
By skilful design, the Euro-British was able to maintain and perpetuate the competitive modus operandi that existed between these two entities. Ergo, the Westminster system of governance only took the divide and rule slave model of governance to the next European global control level.
The re-mix of the 15th century European plantation system of governance is overtly reflected in the geo-political reality in that before the Euro-British granted political independence to her colonized in Africa and the Caribbean, it was stipulated that they must meet the basic “criterion of eligibility for independence”, namely, ” a full-fledged two- party system in operation.”
Furthermore, the Euro-British insisted that independence was “a right of only those who were capable of maintaining and perpetuating liberal democratic institutions”, albeit the descendants of the 15th century house-servants.
As Louis Lindsay (1976) elucidates: “The adoption of the Westminster model of competitive two-party government facilitated the persistence of (continued European) control . The political leaders who are chosen by ordinary citizens in periodic elections are the ornamental elements of the polity. They provide the illusion that government is government of the people and for the people.”
In the final analysis, the overall impact of the imposed Euro-British Westminster model of governance has not only been in the direction of making self-determination impossible but has also tended toward making meaningful total liberation impractical and illusive for the former colonized in Africa and the Caribbean.
Shem Hotep (“I go in peace”).