Ashamed of history

I would like wunna to follow the flow of the issues I am raising with Hal Austin. Hal is editor of Financial Adviser and has been for more than a decade. He has previously worked on a number of local and national publications in the UK.

The questions below that I posed to Hal, which he quickly responded to and promised to go into more depth later, are critical to Barbados and the Caribbean. He is at the heart of the world’s financial centre and yet I am told by intelligent people that he is talking foolishness. I want to hear his foolishness.

I have outlined in various documents indicating the trends, the depth and width of how foreign (non-Caribbean) corporations are taking over almost every aspect of our economy and culture in general. We cannot remain in ignorance as to what is going on.

I have submitted several documents outlining what our responses can be. Don’t care how much I ask for comments to at least get discussions going, I get absolute silence. Maybe I am talking foolishness to you and I wish you would tell me so.

I have five grand children and two more on the way and I am concerned deeply what their future in Barbados is going to be like. All of us need to recognise that we have done little to boost the awareness of our people of themselves, to educate them on how the system works, to provide them with lessons from our life here.

I am watching very carefully and closely the redefining of our country through Eurocentric eyes. In 1992 I had to challenge Professor Henry Fraser, then head of the Barbados National Trust, on the bias shown by the National Trust to plantation houses and refusing to recognise the uniqueness of the chattel house.

They finally did by putting a couple houses at Tyrol Cot. But importantly, he is now the authority on the chattel house, publishing a book Barbados Chattel houses.

Here is the first paragraph of that book.

“The Unique Barbados Chattel House has fascinated Barbadians and visitors alike for many years. It originated after emancipation, when the Located Labourers Act established guidelines for plantations to provide tenantry land at a modest rent, for the worker’s house and some land to work for his own use and sale.

“It was necessary for the freed slaves to have mobility if they changed their choice of place to work, or if they were dismissed by the plantation manager and were forced to leave their rented lot in the plantation tenantry. With the chattel house, they could simply go, quickly dismantling and putting their small wooden house on an ox cart or mule cart, and reassembling it that same day elsewhere.”

Wow! Isn’t that nice and romantic! The fact that these so called tenantries were nigger yards where they lived all their lives during slavery is totally ignored. Oh, and they were planning ahead because they had choices. In fact, the reason for the Located Labourers Act was to keep the recently freed slaves on a particular plantation.

Remember Barbados had little or no crown lands like other island. So the act was created to stop the former slaves from selling their labour to the highest bidder. So if you went to work on a neighbouring plantation or further away, you had to move.

Where on earth were they going to get an ox or mule cart to move their huts? From the plantation? Remember these former slave owners got compensated by the British government, the slaves got nothing.

Necessity is the mother of invention and because of the hardships imposed by the Located Labourers Act as well as the plantation owners and managers, huts had to be moved or left, but you had to move.

They did not call it “a chattel house”. Chattel refer to the slaves, horses, mules, donkeys, oxen, camels, huts and all movable entities. Houses were huts with trash roofs. After independence I interviewed several people who were living in one gable chattel houses with dirt floors and stuffed flour bags of kuskus grass for beds.

We are so ashamed of our history we do not even tell our children about ourselves. Here we are in the 21st Century with 10 national heroes and we do not even teach our children the stories of who they are and what they did to deserve such status.

Not even a comic book about each of them!

I am watching the absentee landlords expanding the gap between those who have and those who have not. The egrets continue to land! I am watching media twitterising information and the news and publishing or broadcasting wishy-washy opinions without the slightest embarrassment about their mediocrity. Same with the Internet.

There is too much silence in the nation. There is too much corruption and exploitation. There is too much education producing illiterates. Do you think the Alexandra fiasco should have occurred? Do you think Cost-Us-More should have happened and all of these shopkeepers and black business people should be silent? What happen to our pride? We behave like yard fowls that get lil scratch grain pelt before them and they gone berserk.

I was in Barbados and see wid my own two eyes how Bajans were scrambling and blocking up Warrens to get some of the grain, not realising that dey gun pay fuh um sooner or later when all de other businesses start shutting down.

The Canadian company that operates FLOW ent even setup yet and buy out the Australian cable group Karib Cable. Who you tink gun pay fuh dat? Who you tink did behind REDjet? More scratch grain, concessions galore! Was CLICO a ponzi scheme or more scratch grain?

Where is our moral centre? Do we have one? Do we want one? Should we have one? And how do we achieve one and where do we start? Who should start the move?

Just in case you wondering, ah just starting.

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