Now while I leave many of you frothing at the mouth trying to figure out if the headline is pronounced nigger or niggah, I want to jump to a serious and pressing issue.
Kamla’s Panchayat has begun to reconfigure national history in much the same way she reconfigures Cabinet’s: in a dangerously ad hoc way. The murder toll, inaction and PR Stunts being pulled by Warnersingh in his first month as National Security Warrior is nothing in comparison to the destruction that is currently being waged on the national psyche, national history and general misinformation.
If you managed to miss it earlier this week, there was a picture circulating the web from Wesley Furlonge’s Top The Class In Comprehension Series, the edition for students in Standard Three. The picture depicts Kamla and Spiritual Baptist Mother, Barbara Burke next to an entry on Emancipation. To say that the picture and the entry are incongruous, is me being dainty. That text book entry is BULLSHIT, and the editors and the publishers of the books should be ashamed. In fact the book should be burned in its entirety. The picture shows Persad-Bissessar, decked off in African garb at a Shouter Baptist Liberation Day Celebration, at the very centre of the picture, attached to a simplified story of Emancipation. If this confusing image of a woman with Indian phenotypical features masquerading in African garb isn’t enough to confuse you and thousands of primary school children into thinking Indians were enslaved Africans as well, then the language for the story should cause some concern.
If what I just described doesn’t make sense, then try an imagine the story of Indenture with Jagdeo Warnersingh as the first man to step off the Fath Al Razack!
The text refers to a “great event” taking place 200 years ago, and then the sentence that follows it seems to imply that slavery….or the more politically correct term ENSLAVEMENT….was the great event. Enslavement is almost 500 years old. It is actually Emancipation that’s almost 200 years old, but whoever wrote that entry clearly faked a pass in FD10A or is an epic dunce!
While I don’t expect a Standard Three Book to explain the difference between slavery and enslavement, it wouldn’t hurt the already dunce writers of the entry to use the correct terms. Slavery is a system that exists in all cultures and into which people can enter into of their own choice depending on their circumstance. ENSLAVEMENT is what happens when you hunt down free people and force them to be your labour system. No African that ended up here before 1807 walked up to a European person and said, “Boss, sign me up for ah wuk in the Caribbean, nah!” Lots of other ethnic groups did that….all of them as indentured labour…..but no African before 1807. Yet, this text continues to use terms like slavery and slaves….almost as if the writer of the entry ignorant and dunce to the relevance and application of the terms and what their meanings imply.
Words like they were “unhappy” about the treatment meted out to their loved ones leave me baffled. Really? Unhappy you say? Then, of course the perennial attempt to associate Africans with wining and entertainment, “There was then much rejoicing, singing and dancing among the freed slaves.” Can you think of any ethnic group that wouldn’t be relieved that such a system was ended?
But the inaccuracies don’t end there. While the Act to Abolish Enslavement was passed in 1834, it was only actually enacted in 1838. So in truth and fact Emancipation for both domestic and field labourers only actually happened in 1838, and the Apprenticeship system from 1834-1838 might have continued until 1840 if planters weren’t afraid of riots.
The other discrepancy is that this article implies that Emancipation was a holiday for freed Africans from as far back as 1834….it only became a holiday in 1985!
Understand this, when people begin to re-write, reconfigure and re-structure the history of it’s country, you must become concerned. When that re-writing subtly changes the history of one group, or begins to privilege the history of one group over another it’s time to get angry….very angry.
Now while the text I am referring to belongs to Wesley Furlonge, there are current actions taking place here that point to government interference with national history and culture. Recently I have heard that the Pan has East Indian origins. Government websites related to the promotion of our 50th Anniversary have privileged tassa and chutney musics over the musical instruments and artforms of EVERY other ethnic group here.
Re-writing the history of ethnic groups is nothing new. Europeans did it to justify enslavement, so they had scientists and historians create information that implied Africans had no culture, no history, and were in fact closer to primates than humans. In the Caribbean knowledge of Africa historically was surpressed. Now, when we can freely access it too few Afro-Trinbagonians care to read about it when there is FaceBook bacchanal to check and read.
Eric Williams understood well the importance of history in building a nation, and used that knowledge to his benefit. He often privileged Afro-Creole history over that of all other groups; and that perceived privileging of Afro-Trinbagonians over every one else got the PNM in trouble. Because Indians got pissed about it. They felt disenfranchised and marginalised…..and now an Indo-dominated government seems set on doing to Afro-Trinbagonians what they felt was done to them.
From Columbus to Kamla it is a politics of retribution in this Caribbean space. A politics of vengeance, of getting back a pound of flesh, of imposing clan values under the guise of ethnic superiority and insularity. In years to come Wesley Furlonge and others like him will have much to answer for.
In the meantime, I listen to the silence of the Emancipation Support Committee. When I saw the picture in this text book, I thought, now this is something for Shabaka Kambon to sink his teeth into and really play ah mas. But, alas, is not Sugar Aloes who write it, and complaining about this so close to Emancipation Day might mean no support from the public purse.
Kamla’s Panchayat will continue with their madness. Look out for more re-writing of the country’s history that privileges the Indian presence here over every other ethnic group….In fact, Colunbus wasn’t really Italian, his name was really Khemraj, is really an East Indian who sail West, and mistake the Caribbean for India and “discovered” the new world….watch and see if the story aint turn.
But let us not forget that it is not only African history that is being marginalised in this place. The Europeans, Chinese and Arabs who settled here hear precious little of their story being touted.
Every government here since the Spanish has been absolutely niggardly about its treatment of the other groups in the space. This vicious cycle of retribution politics will not end well.
De Vice Cyah Done!