Tag Archives: Slavery

What the Modern World Owes Slavery – commentary

 Black History Month – February

The Bleached Bones of the Dead: What the Modern World Owes Slavery

Monday, 24 February 2014 – By Greg Grandin, TomDispatch | Op-Ed TRUTHOUT

Slaves working on James Hopkinson's plantation.
Slaves working on James Hopkinson’s plantation. (Photo: Henry P. Moore) >>

Many in the United States were outraged by the remarks of conservative evangelical preacher Pat Robertson, who blamed Haiti’s catastrophic 2010 earthquake on Haitians for selling their souls to Satan. Bodies were still being pulled from the rubble — as many as 300,000 died — when Robertson went on TV and gave his viewing audience a little history lesson: the Haitians had been “under the heel of the French” but they “got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.’ True story. And so, the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.'”

A supremely callous example of right-wing idiocy? Absolutely. Yet in his own kooky way, Robertson was also onto something. Haitians did, in fact, swear a pact with the devil for their freedom. Only Beelzebub arrived smelling not of sulfur, but of Parisian cologne.   Continue reading

Emancipation – commentary



On August 1, 2013, it will be 179 years since slavery was abolished in this country – and in the rest of the British Empire, for that matter. As a national Public Holiday, we should be reminded that it is a day that should be commemorated by all Guyanese. Not only because we are citizens of this country but because we are the inheritors of the legacy of those who fought and died fighting that epitome of man’s inhumanity to man.

It was an institution of which the world had never seen before – and hopefully will never see again. There are those that like to mention that there was slavery before our “New World” slavery that dragged millions of Africans across the Atlantic and plunged them into a world in which even their humanity was denied.    Continue reading

Legacies of Empire: the Good, the bad and the ugly – Sir Ronald Sanders

Legacies of Empire: the Good, the bad and the ugly

Thursday, May 23, 2013 – 17:54 By Sir Ronald Sanders

This commentary is a much shortened version of a paper delivered at a public seminar at London University on May 20th on the Legacy of the British Empire in the Caribbean.

The Legacy of Empire in the Caribbean is a mixed one – some aspects are good, many aspects are bad, and one in particular is ugly. I will start with the good aspects:



The first is language. Because English has become the first language of international commerce, the Legacy of the English language in the former British colonies has been beneficial to the English-Speaking Caribbean countries in a range of global transactions.   Continue reading

CARICOM should seek reparation for slavery – UWI Pro-Vice Chancellor – video

CARICOM should seek reparation for slavery, says UWI Pro-Vice Chancellor

shot0002 Governments need to create a regional reparation agency to present an international case against its former colonizers.
Describing slavery as the “Worst Crime against humanity”, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Professor Hillary Beckles, called for an ‘informed and sensible conversation’.

He said Caribbean descendants of African slaves have both moral and legal rights to reparation for the injustices that were done during the slave trade.

Sir Hilary was at the time delivering the first of a series of lectures to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of the 1763 Berbice Slave Revolt as part of Republic celebrations,   Continue reading

Nantes, France – French City Confronts Its Brutal Past

Memorial to Slave Trade

French City Confronts Its Brutal Past

By Stefan Simons in Nantes, France

Photo Gallery: Nantes' Dark History

Chateau des ducs de Bretagne/ Musée d’histoire de Nantes

The slave trade once made the people of Nantes rich, but the French city covered up its dark history for decades. It recently erected a memorial to the victims in a project believed to be the first of its kind in Europe. But the effort to shed light on the Continent’s role in the 18th century slave trade with Africa and the New World has not been popular with some residents.

 In the 18th century, cruelty had poetic names, like Le Prudent (“The Prudent”), La Légère (“The Light”) or Les Trois Maries (“The Three Marys”). The ships, named in the hope of a good voyage or baptized with Christian first names, were part of a brutal business between Europe, Africa and America: the slave trade. During a period of approximately 400 years, at least 13 million people were transported under horrendous conditions from Africa to the colonies of the New World.       [more ]
— Post #1330

Tim Wise on the Creation of Whiteness – video

Tim Wise on the Creation of Whiteness

This is a clip from The Pathology of Privilege: Racism, White Denial & the Costs of Inequality, the newly released video from the Media Education Foundation. The video is of a speech given by Tim Wise at Mt. Holyoke College, October 1, 2007.

Also look at the other Tim Wise videos that follow this one.

  Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S., and has been called, “One of the most brilliant, articulate and courageous critics of white privilege in the nation,” by best-selling author and professor Michael Eric Dyson, of Georgetown University. Wise has spoken in 48 states, and on over 600 college campuses, including Harvard, Stanford, and the Law Schools at Yale and Columbia, and has spoken to community groups around the nation.

The “Accidental Rudeness” of the British

From the Diaspora – Stabroek NewsAugust 15, 2011

The “Accidental Rudeness” of the British

By Melanie Newton  –

“… yet, sadly, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly often…
Best to say nothing at all, my dear man.”
     – (Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince)

We may never know the name of the person who recorded and uploaded an August 9 BBC television news segment, in which anchorwoman Fiona Armstrong interviewed the Trinidadian born journalist and black British community spokesperson Darcus Howe. Thanks to this anonymous person’s quick thinking, the full shame of Armstrong and the BBC is now available on Youtube for all the world to see.

Armstrong interviewed Howe – who has worked as a BBC journalist – at the height of the recent disturbances that swept the UK. Things went downhill immediately, when Armstrong introduced him as ‘Marcus Dowe.’ After that, more or less every word Armstrong uttered was offensive. When Howe said he was not “shocked” by the riots given what was happening to “young people in this country”, she asked if he “condoned” the riots. She interrupted him when he said that the police “blew [Mark Duggan’s] head off”, patronizingly stating that: “we don’t know what happened to Mr. Duggan.” Armstrong’s vehemence was remarkable, given that the police admit they shot Duggan – what is in question are the circumstances of the shooting.   Continue reading


Pioneers in post emancipation history

By: Eusi Kwayana

(Copyright – Part of a forthcoming book on the Village movement bu Eusi Kwayana)

This article was read in August 2010 at the celebration by Buxton villagers of the 170th anniversary of the village.

According to Allan Young, using and official estimates, during the first decade of the village movement  the land bought and the houses built and improved both in the Victoria type  25 collective  and in the Queenstown type villages made a total investment of some $2.5 million of African savings at a time when there was no lender. Collective labour for village purposes must have added another value to total investment.

There are mainly two ways of approaching and seeing village history in Guyana. One is to study villages one by one. We shall find that the oldest villages were those of the indigenous people whom we call Amerindians. Their names are often noteworthy, helping to preserve ancient languages. They are about the only villages with this cultural distinction.

There are a large number of African villages, the great a majority of which have Dutch, French or mostly English names which had some significance when they were chosen. There are lastly a large number of Indian villages, with names not far different from the African villages. If we taught history in our schools the finding of meanings of names and reasons for naming will be an interesting project for schools and pupils or students of all races and classes. It would be one step in the direction of a good place to go.

There are several villages over many years that have celebrated their anniversaries. The celebrations were either at home or abroad where our people have gone. Last year (2009) the first Village, Victoria, celebrated its birthday. There are three publications on this village one by a long gone schoolmaster Mr. Arno. The second is a booklet by Mr Rupert Dowden, “The First Village”, written in days of the PNC which had come out in favour of cooperatives. The third other was by this writer. They should still be available in Victoria.

My forthcoming book will approach village history, not village by village but by discussing the Village Movement.  It is my view and I have proclaimed it since reading Allan Younge’s “Approaches to  Local Self Government in British Guiana”, that the Village movement  was a period of,  about fifty years, during which Guyana went through its most significant period of lasting social change. This is part of the reason that some feel strongly about people who misguide themselves and violate the people’s reputation for freedom by using their inherited lands for purposes of unprovoked attacks, not against a hostile government, but against unarmed persons who might be its supporters. In carrying out these acts of brutality they also corrupted the village inwardly, holding the unarmed villagers under a rule of fear and every form of suffering which war imposes. The insanity allowed the expansion of a drug financed and government- backed force called the Phantom whose self-confessed leader has been convicted and jailed in the USA on drug charges.

That period roughly from 2001 to 2007 was an unnecessary and unproductive anti-development interruption of the history of at least a small number of villages, including Buxton and Agricola.

Read Full article here: Pioneers in post-Emancipation History

Victoria’s historic Model of Village Governance

Victoria’s historic Model of Village Governance

Copyright. 2007.  Excerpt from a new book on The Guyana Villages by Eusi Kwayana.

The book by Mr William Arno, stalwart head teacher, and Inspector of Schools, educationist, famous in his time, gives us much I formation about the First post emancipation village in Guyana. In particular it lists the 83 original proprietors, who took the simple step of buying a village to be controlled by persons who had been enslaved up to 1834 and lawlessly forced to work for another four years until 1838.

Taking over land by purchase and setting up a new mini -civilization called a village was not a cake walk.  We often forget that the colonizers and the Sugar directors and Attorneys had passed laws to make it difficult for the emancipated men and women to acquire land. As the rulers saw it, when Africans got land the plantations would lose labour.  Continue reading

Coolies – How Britain re-invented slavery – videos

Coolies – How Britain re-invented slavery – videos

This story tells you how England recruited people from India under “contract”  to replace the African labour in agriculture after slavery was abolished in 1834.  It is believed that these Indians were tricked into leaving India to go places like  Guyana, Fiji & Africa, to work as “Indentured Labourers”.

In this documentary one man is looking for any sign of his great grand father who came to Guyana. Another man also looks for his roots in Fiji.  Indians had to deal with SOME of the same living conditions and cruelty that the Africans, and others, endured earlier under slavery,  before 1834

In this case, however, unlike under African based slavery, there was a time limit for their labour, even though it was harsh at times.  They were free after their five year “contract” to renew their contract, or return to India or accept land in lieu of their passage home as was the case in in British Guiana (Guyana).

In British Guiana, After slavery was abolished the Africans got their “freedom” but no land or compensation for over 200 years labour by them and their ancestors.  They had to work and save to buy abandoned estates to form their first villages like Victoria, Beterverwagting and Buxton on the East Coast of Demerara.

In  Guyana’s 2002 Census, people claiming to be East Indian made up 43.45% of the population of 751,233. ( see Census Reports here)






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