Teach African history, teach it right

There is a need for Barbadian educators to revamp the way African history is taught in schools, with a focus on the many outstanding achievements of ancestors.

And, says Pan-Africanist and president of the Clement Payne Movement Pan David Comissiong, it should be compulsory across the education system.

Pan-Africanist David Comissiong speaking on Saturday.

During the first weekend of Black History Month, Comissiong voiced his concern about the state of education on African history. He was speaking on Saturday at a seminar on African history at the Crumpton Street, St Michael headquarters of his organization, where Islamic scholar David Muhammad was the guest speaker.

Some members of the audience at the headquarters of the Clement Payne Movement on Saturday.

Comissiong said a few school teachers told him they had discontinued African history classes, because “some of the students were coming away from the Black History Month sessions with feelings of shame about our history, about slavery”.

But, he countered, “maybe part of it has to do with how the material is being delivered to the students, because you could think you’re doing something good but if the history is being taught in a way that inspires feelings of shame or negativity in the students, then you can actually end up doing more harm than good”.

“The teaching of our history, of our black studies, is something that has to be done very expertly and sensitively and with a proper perspective. In the hands of unskillful teachers, or using works that are not well-designed, you could end up doing more harm than good,” Comissiong advised.

“We have to give our young people their history, their culture, their heritage. And we have to give them it in a way that makes sense. . . . When we tell them about Bussa and the rebellion, we must be telling them not a story of defeat; we must be telling them a story of heroic resistance and courage and bravery. We must give them our story as one of tremendous resistance and creativity and transcending horrors that wiped out other races.”

Comissiong said Barbadian history must have a link back to classical African civilizations.

“You can’t tell the history of Barbados properly unless you have a conception of our African civilization and its glories, and how the history of Barbados is connected, is rooted in that. The educator who tells the story of Barbadian history without a foundation in the classical history of Africa, will end up doing damage to those students,” he added.

At the seminar, Muhammad, the Trinidad and Eastern Caribbean representative of the Nation of Islam and its leader Louis Farrakhan, also presented his newly published book, Black History, in which he gives a Caribbean perspective on African history.

Dr David Mohammed was excited to share his newly published book, Black History with guests attending the seminar. 
Islamic scholar David Muhammad (seated) autographing a copy of his book.

Muhammad is a University of the West Indies graduate with double Bachelor’s degrees in Education and Sociology, and is deeply involved with helping young people, especially in Trinidad where he has been manager of the senior national football team, Soca Warriors, and also did stints managing the Under-23 and Under-17 sides.

Describing Muhammad as a person “well-versed” in Caribbean-African history, Comissiong commended the book, stating: “It is so important that an educator like a David Muhammad, . . . who has decades of experience working with young people, being involved in developmental work with young people, a man grounded in the philosophy in the teachings of Louis Farrakhan and Elijah Muhammad, comes very well equipped to make this kind of contribution to our society, our young people in particular.”

“This is something that we in Barbados have been very concerned about for some time now,” Comissiong added.

He recalled that during the 1990s, the then Minister of Education Mia Mottley, who is now Opposition Leader, had approached him, Myrna Belgrave and Thelma Gill-Barnett “to work on producing a Black Studies programme for the Barbadian school system”.

“We did put our hands to the task and we did produce material to be used in the school . . . but it was never made mandatory in the school system, so there was a situation where some schools would use it, some teachers had the interest and the motivation, but there were many schools that didn’t make use of the material,” Comissiong said.

“Unfortunately, the material never made its way into one comprehensive document.”

He described Muhammad’s book, however, as one such comprehensive document and also spoke of another compete publication, Caribbean History from Pre-colonial Origins to the Present by Tony Martin, as “easily the best single history volume on the history of the Caribbean”.

He said that Martin, an African historian who hailed from Trinidad, and official historian of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, did tremendous work on telling the story of the Marcus Garvey movement. Just before his untimely death, Comissiong noted, he produced “this wonderful history text on the Caribbean”.

Martin’s book covers the entire Caribbean, accounting for history of the French, Dutch, and Spanish-speaking African descendants along with those who now speak English.

“He was telling the story of the Caribbean from the bottom up, from the perspective of the masses of people of the Caribbean,” the Barbadian Pan-Africanist said. “But it is not in the school system of Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, the University of the West Indies. It is not in any bookshop, not even in the University bookshop.”

Comissiong described the publications of Muhammad and the existing volume of Martin as “critical work”.

45 Responses to Teach African history, teach it right

  1. Kay Critchlow
    Kay Critchlow February 7, 2017 at 9:44 am

    I been saying this for so long now black slavery was an abomination just terrible but it should be balanced a little with what many white people went through also . The history of slavery paints a picture of the white man and all white people being the rich the powerful all evil and bigoted when it’s not so. That cotton picking the slaves did came back to the masters white slaves who also worked in appalling conditions little children young as 5 years down coal mines up chimneys women and men working 20 hour days in cotton mills yes and beaten and raped . We had wars to endure etc teach the hardcore truth but balance it with some white hardcore history too same as today unless your rich and powerful we are all the same .

    • Troy Worrell
      Troy Worrell February 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      Kay they were no chimneys in the Caribbean so I don’t know what balance you talking about, we dealing with Caribbean history not how Europeans exploited each other in Europe.

      If John stole you car and returned it all broken and barely driving a year later because he grew a conscience would you be satisfied with that?
      Especially if you found out he made a fortune using the very same car for the year it was stolen?
      Wouldn’t you want some kind of compensation?
      By today’s law he would either have to compensate you or be fined or jailed, or all the above.

    • Kay Critchlow
      Kay Critchlow February 7, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      Troy your really not understanding my point . You can’t teach about slavery and make it only look like the Africans were being used and abused it was the elitist supremacy that had everyone in its grips here and there . You talk of growing a conscience as if I all white people need to have one that is so wrong that is my point .

    • Maria Leclair Dasilva
      Maria Leclair Dasilva February 7, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      Black people think that only they were subjected to slavery and many are unaware of the horrific lives of the white slaves. Troy Worrell, Kay is expressing the need to preach the truth about all slavery both the white and black which existed in Barbados/Caribbean. Black people need to understand they are not the only ones who suffered at the hands of the white man/boss. Teach both black and white Bajans their history not just the blacks. Both whites and blacks are equally entitled to know their pass.

    • Kay Critchlow
      Kay Critchlow February 7, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      First slaves into barbados were white BTW

    • Maria Leclair Dasilva
      Maria Leclair Dasilva February 7, 2017 at 3:11 pm

      Kay Critchlow I would have like to have learned the slave history when I was in school rather than now at 60. It was an important part of my life especially living in Barbados and having both black and white family I would have loved to have known. It is only within the last decade or so I am learning about the existence of the white slavery in the Caribbean. As ignorant as that sounds, it’s a reality.

    • Kay Critchlow
      Kay Critchlow February 7, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      Maria Leclair Dasilva it so is and another thing not mentioned is the rich black Africans sold yes sold their own people . Black greed in the higher classes no different than white greed .

    • Kay Critchlow
      Kay Critchlow February 7, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      I watch a fabulous documentary about the first slaves taken into Antigua white slaves they all died there water conditions so bad history is amazing if it’s researched and not only bits picked out to suit .

  2. Kay Critchlow
    Kay Critchlow February 7, 2017 at 9:47 am

    I believe this is the problem with the teaching white supremacy but no it was the rich man not about colour had the uk not needed it’s workforce here they would have shipped us too .

  3. AC February 7, 2017 at 10:09 am

    It may also be helpful to consider “There is a River” by Vincent Harding, of Barbadian descent.

  4. Dennis Taitt
    Dennis Taitt February 7, 2017 at 10:39 am

    True . Hope you are real and you are not using chat to enrich yourself like the politicians do. You was involve in politics . I do not trust most politicians

    • Kay Critchlow
      Kay Critchlow February 7, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      I don’t trust many people I am me politics! All tarred with same brush only a handful ever really true to beliefs in a better world all lining their pockets .

  5. Adam Tyler Mallett
    Adam Tyler Mallett February 7, 2017 at 10:54 am

    To teach it properly it is most important to start with where we come from in Africa and thier history and beliefs prior to enslavement., many slavery records still exist also.,

    • Kay Critchlow
      Kay Critchlow February 7, 2017 at 11:24 am

      I agree but it is not good to teach only about how the African people were abused and lived in misery without teaching also what other people cultures were suffering at the same time. There are people that actually want this black and white divide to continue the ordinary people of this world should not let it happen . All of us have been used to make the rich richer and more powerful colour has just been the smoke screen for to long now .

    • Adam Tyler Mallett
      Adam Tyler Mallett February 7, 2017 at 11:34 am

      No one in all of history went through what we did , 300 years of this and globally , now we still face the same racism and hatred
      globally , that we teach our
      kids that all
      cultures come from ours in fact
      every language
      spoken on earth has a west
      African root . The divide of which you speak is created and maintained by those who enslaved us , the only way through it is by embracing our own culture and language and beliefs which existed some 2 million years before we birthed the other races . That we teach our kids that we had a system of true equality and justice .

    • Kay Critchlow
      Kay Critchlow February 7, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      Adam Tyler Mallett other races ? Oh you mean human beings there’s bigotry everywhere for colour for race for class , so if what your saying is correct I’m out of Africa but my skin white I am sorry that my great great grandparents couldn’t have been plucked out of Africa to make this more evenly balanced but unfortunately they were needed here to work their days for the puppet masters and we still do . The only way forward is not to teach white against black but to teach abominations happened and still happen amongst evil people colour has nothing to do with it . Ironically I often feel racism in barbados towards myself The white woman ! Racism has no place . I think we were all out of Africa and that teaching is good for pupils to know but move on from there and teach some world history too. Let the kids there know their white visitor don’t live in castles and keep slaves .

    • Adam Tyler Mallett
      Adam Tyler Mallett February 7, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      What we should in my opinion should be teaching is not just the past but the future so that we continue to evolve , we are the ancestors reborn , honoring our ancestors but also carrying forward the values ethics and morals needed to create a solid foundation that resists and overcomes the hatred we continue to face today 500 years later.
      To me it is very important to teach our belief in God , that we have held before we birthed the other races , to know that we are born divine as Eda Eniyan , the first human creation.

    • Adam Tyler Mallett
      Adam Tyler Mallett February 7, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      Kay Critchlow , I cannot speak to your
      experiences nor your
      I can say this , that it is not my priority.

    • Adam Tyler Mallett
      Adam Tyler Mallett February 7, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      What I do find concerning is that you feel that as a white person you would deem to insert your opinion or beliefs into a conversation that has absolutely nothing to do with you.
      We walked this earth for some 3 million years before we gave birth to the other races , your insistence that your “white opinion ” supersedes our history and what we teach our children is quite symbolic of this ” racial divide “, it’s called white supremacy.

    • Kay Critchlow
      Kay Critchlow February 7, 2017 at 5:59 pm

      Adam Tyler Mallett do you understand genetics sir do you understand I could be as genetically linked to the people you say we’re here before me ! All you see is colour . And if you read your history good enough you will see the African leaders at the time sold their own people . I see black people white peopled yellow people brown people we are all the same and none of us personally lived in these times . The UK has become a multicultural society many bajans choose to come live in the UK time you stopped this pattern of us against the world mentality. No race is better than any other there is good and evil in all .

    • Adam Tyler Mallett
      Adam Tyler Mallett February 7, 2017 at 7:28 pm

      Actually everything outside of Haplotype E is called a mutation , From A – E are Black .
      White supremacy and propoganda says That we sold ourselves into slavery , meanwhile we see in Ghana and the Ivory Coast a series of forts into the interior , also we have the records of the British Parliament as well as the East Africa company , also there are no slave records with the names of these so called African leaders selling thier families , or people.
      You are long on accusations and short on facts.
      This is why we need to teach our African history to our children , so that they see that they are the Eda Eniyan , the first created humans that we as such have an interconnection with God and that they were born divine , ire ooo .

    • Adam Tyler Mallett
      Adam Tyler Mallett February 7, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      To be blunt Kay Critchlow we do not require either your opinion nor your permission ,

  6. Helicopter(8P) February 7, 2017 at 11:26 am

    To be fair and impartial lets ask the Koreans what it was like under Chinese and Japanese slavery days and how long ago were they freed? The English captured young Irish and Scots and took them to Shires to be slaves. Yes slavery is commended. It’s bad but please move on, advance, progress and develop into a new way of processing. Lets overcome like the Koreans!

  7. jrsmith February 7, 2017 at 11:58 am

    Thats why black people will always be bog down, who want to be reminded of centuries of slavery, nothing which was any benefit to blacks then and reading about it now makes no different….
    Our history is also with white people the planters who fought (Westminster ) for the self determination of barbados they started where we are today…. 1651-1652 The treaty of Oistins …

    You people are just messing up our kids , teaching some history is ok , what our young people need to be taught and guided correctly that education is only good if its active and productive , we need , engineers of all description , we need to teach our young people the economic reality of surviving in an ever changing world……..

    • Sherlock Holmes. February 7, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      I totally agree with some of your sentiments Jrsmith.

  8. jrsmith February 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Dressing like a king or queen doesn’t make you either……

  9. Joel C. Payne
    Joel C. Payne February 7, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    *Stupes* Best thing black people in the Caribbean could do. Go research your family tree at the National Archives. And look in the London Gazette to see if any heirs in your family have estates of land or other that is bona-vacantia (abandond) and if no heirs come forward for the estate, you go claim it and keep it or sell it rather than let the UK government take it for nothing.

  10. Dave Person
    Dave Person February 7, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    very true….but i wonder what are teachers thinking.for example we have 23 secondary schools therefore estimating 2 music teachers per school that is 46 teachers that would have to come together………….ANd NOT ONE OF THEM willing to teach a Gryner, Caru….RPB……….. so how the music will get any better???????? that is just the tip of the iceberg

    • Kay Critchlow
      Kay Critchlow February 7, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      This sound awful but not meant in a bad way I’m just a straight talking person a say as I see . Ok historically many countries many people have traditions but then those traditions are for the family to uphold if they care about them . School has little time and resources to be teaching such when they need to teach mathematics literature history science sports music etc come on . Something’s should be taught in the own home communities.

    • Dave Person
      Dave Person February 7, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Not buying that if they can teach adout others they can teach about ours

    • Kay Critchlow
      Kay Critchlow February 7, 2017 at 6:27 pm

      Dave Person we have many old traditions that aren’t taught in our schools why not take it to a music teacher get some lessons going for people that are interested in school it’s hard enough to get through a curriculum with children today .

  11. Darren Garrett
    Darren Garrett February 7, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    Two thumbs up

  12. Ronnie Warren
    Ronnie Warren February 7, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Why. Why not Caribbean.

  13. Buddy Love
    Buddy Love February 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Personally it would be better to teach finance.

  14. Buddy Love
    Buddy Love February 7, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    To better prepare the children for real life. Teaching slavery will not provide the benefits they need

    • Kay Critchlow
      Kay Critchlow February 7, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Totally agree my point was just that . life is a balance the kids of today haven’t a clue what hard work is let alone slavery. I just get tired with the stereotypical black man being whipped and the white man as master kids need to integrate and the only way to do that is if your going to show them as slaves don’t leave the part out where white people where too . And the Jew rounded up and put into gas chambers etc . Otherwise you bare a nation of people that carry a chip on their shoulder without any real reason other than they are being given it . There are ways to teach African Caribbean kids their roots without the need to keep on and on about slavery it’s no good for their spirit their growing minds their heads need to be filled with what’s going to make them accomplish in life .

  15. Rawle Maycock
    Rawle Maycock February 7, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    I’m with you all the way absolutely nothing bajan.

  16. Kay Critchlow
    Kay Critchlow February 7, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    My sister developed cancer 2 years ago leukaemia she had to have a bone marrow transplant for which her DNA had to match someone somewhere very interesting who we all are related too !! . I don’t see colour I see a person I see a heart a soul isn’t that the most important thing to teach to understand and develop . Maybe I am very naive maybe people just don’t see things as I do.

  17. Swindley Edwards
    Swindley Edwards February 7, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    I was taught, ” rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves, Britain never would be slaves.

  18. J. Alleyne February 7, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    “What they never told you in History Class: Vol 1 – helps to re-stablish Africa’s rightful place in history. ISBN 1-886433-23-2

    Ive noticed my responses were not being published, there has to be a reason……

  19. Jennifer February 7, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    This is the result of what slavery has done to black people.


  20. Jennifer February 7, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    We seriously need to teach slavery to the children in the schools. However, there needs to be more research into our people history as there are several lies being taught even by our historians through ignorance.
    Without a past you cannot know who you truly are which results in drunkenness and ambivalence and no future. Two things need to happen. So called white people need to take accountability for their actions and that of their ancestors and so called black people need to embrace who they are. If Whites were enslaved first why were they stopped from being slaves????? An Indentured Servant works for pay of passage, they maintain their family names and families are kept together. They kept their language, and cultural traditions. The white race has remained in the minority with MAJORITY wealth. So called black people was RENAMED AND CLASSIFIED LIKE THE UFO citings. Believe it or not white ancestry such as Christopher cologne aka Christopher Columbus knew exactly where he was going and who he was searching for in Africa. When we look at black history we need to look at the territory where our people was taken from in WEST AFRICA namely where the British Forts and French Forts were set up. THE KINGDOM OF OUIDAH OR JUDAH AND BENIN OR BENJAMIN. The title of WHITE STARTED around 1853 to bring about SUPREMACY AND BLACK TO mentally inflict dirtiness and shame on so called black people. Why did Whites not stay slaves. Another LIE is that African sold African, But I can guarantee you that African and our people is not the same people. There are over 40 NATIONALITIES IN AFRICA which one did the blacks in the Caribbean come from, this is why they bare no spiritual connection to African people.

  21. Jennifer February 8, 2017 at 12:08 am

    They say we are the cursed seed of Ham. This was taken from the ZONDERVAN (white man) BIBLE DICTIONARY – HAM the second son of NOAH born around 96 years before the flood he was the PROGENITOR (FATHER) of the dark races but not the NEGROES, but the Egyptians, the Caananites, the lybians and the Ethiopians. We are not the same people as those Africans. Our people ran into Africa fleeing Roman persecution and settled in mainly the west coast of Africa. However, we still have some of our people still living there. We are ALL Laden in lies from the ancestors of so called White people, but all these lies will be revealed soon enough. We are the True HOLOCUST IN the earth with 40 million souls lost at sea and land. The white people need truth and the blacks need truth too. This is why our people follow every culture in the book including the European, and newly introduce the Chinese. Bleaching their Skin and wearing all other races hair on their head, and what ever else you want to through in there. AND YE SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE. Neither me or my family will ever be ashamed of what our people went through.

  22. Jennifer February 8, 2017 at 12:22 am

    Books for reading –
    From Babylon to Timbuktu
    Hidden in plain sight
    Into Egypt again with SHIPS
    The two Babylons.
    The Valley of dry bones

    To name a few.

  23. Jennifer February 8, 2017 at 5:55 am

    And them so so called Jews in Israel aka Khazars who GB placed in there in 1948 were the the main ones who funded the TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE. With Columbus being one of them and Hitler too. With the first Slave Ship being called the JESUS OF LUBECK. With the Arabs funding the SUB-Saharan slave trade earlier. All systems are now COVERT.


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