I write in response to Ms. Travelayan’s BBC documentary: ‘Confronting my family’s slave-owning past in Grenada – (BBC News, May 23, 2022, 833 views,)’ by British-American Laura Travelayan, and against the backdrop of calls for reparations for Grenada.
Recently Ms. Trevelayan even brought a couple of her relatives to join the chain of apologies for slavery which she said was perpetuated against the ancestors of Grenadians by her ancestors.
Featured in the piece were: Chairman, Reparations Committee, Arley Gill; UWI Resident Tutor and Deputy Chair, Grenada Reparations Committee; Historian and Jab Jab enthusiast Nicole Phillip-Dowe; Novelist D.C. Campbell, tour guide and former broadcaster Edwin Frank; Owner, Hankey’s Computer Store, Garfield Hankey, discovered offspring of the managers of the Travelayan estate(s) in Grenada.
The purpose of my contribution is to help bring sobriety and a vision of objectivity to the call for reparations. Historically, slavery has never been a black and white issue, nor does it comprise the total of Grenada’s history.
Yet for all, the world is being pushed so strongly to embrace this divisive narrative of black versus white, and we Grenadians are falling for its intoxicating lure. This is partly because it is coming from the World Economic forum (WEF), its tentacle the ESG agenda (supported by Sandals Hotel, Republic Bank, and the new Planning and Development Authority in Grenada), and other “woke” initiatives supported by institutions such as the University of the West Indies, Reparations Commissions and the entangled web of proselytes, paid or unpaid.
Ordinary Grenadians were known to say, “common sense made before book” which by translation means: “People had common sense before books were written.” What happened?
I am absolutely appalled by slavery, period. And this response is by no means a confession of support. However, throughout the documented history of slavery, there have always been people that crossed the lines of racial division drawn by their societies.
In that regard, slavery has never been black and white: all whites were not bad people and not all blacks were good ones. For example, it was Quakers, white landowners that facilitated the functioning of Harriet Tubman’s famous ‘underground railroad’, and conversely, the Julien Fedon hailed today as a hero of slaves was a coldblooded killer, who murdered the then Governor of Grenada among others in a bloody coup.
But, when one man writes a history book many years after slavery, without reading actual accounts of those who experienced it, it is likely for this truth to be overlooked, and it does us a great disservice. I pity our students of history.
But this can be taken even further— and here I would ruin your slavery theology a bit: Not all masters were unkind to slaves as we have been told in our history books. In Grenada, a slave owner bought the African slave Ottobah Cugoano, took him to England, and taught him to read as Cugoano himself records in his book, Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species (1787).
Cugoano went on to have a role in the abolition movement there. In America, Booker T. Washington, a former slave, (Up from Slavery, 1901) writes about how his family lived somewhat favourably with their masters on the plantation. He willingly looked after the sick General Samuel Armstong until he died. Armstrong was a kind white man that founded the Hampton Institute for free blacks. We can’t unwrite these historical facts.
The Transatlantic slave trade was possible because Africans enslaved other Africans, kept some for themselves and sold the rest. American Indians (“red people”), like the Choctaw owned black slaves; the Ottomans (“browns”) kidnapped and enslaved white Europeans and black Africans whom they captured in their slave raids of European coasts and East Africa.
John Newton, a white man who was a captain of a slave ship before his conversion to Christianity, and becoming a pastor, was taken captive as a slave in West Africa. He was owned by Princess Peye of the black Sherbro people. He is more known as the writer of the well-known hymn, “Amazing Grace”.
Larry Kroger writes of blacks owned by black slave holders in South Carolina, USA, 1790-1860. So, you be the judge. As a matter of fact, the word ‘slave’ itself comes from the term ‘Slav’, a class of Russian subservients, also called surfs, who were sold all over Europe. They were born into this slave class and could not get out of it, scorned as inferior humans.
These slaves were traded in much higher numbers than the Africans were. But slavery is immoral, no matter who does it and it should be rejected in all its forms solely because it’s wrong.
Why did slavery become the centerpiece of Grenada’s history? The country is hundreds of years old, having been sighted in 1498, and has a long and colourful history. She switched hands between the largest empires of the day, The British and French, several times.
She was the seat of government for the British owned ‘Windwards Island Colony’ from the 1880’s to the 1950’s, and an important contributor to the victory of the UK in both world wars. In World War I, Grenada gave the most money to the war effort of all the Windward Islands, £10,000.
Additionally, after pleading to serve in combat, the hesitant British government allowed conscription of West Indian troops, including passionate Grenadians, after a personal intervention by King George V.
Grenadians of the 1st Battalion of the British West Indies Regiment (BWIR) fought along with the 2nd for the liberation of Palestine (now Israel) and Egypt. They served with distinction and received praise and awards for their gallantry from their superiors.
In World War II, Grenadian and other Caribbean pilots served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) to save their motherland from the scourge of Nazi savagery and tyranny. Among these heroes was fighter pilot Julian Marryshow, the son of T.A. Marryshow.
After a coup in 1979, Grenada was subjected to the communist, dictatorial rule of Maurice Bishop and his de facto government. It was the first communist revolution in the “English-Speaking” world. In 1983, following a Caribbean plea for intervention and the execution of Bishop, she was the site of a U.S. intervention.
America’s first significant military action since Vietnam that would involve all branches of the US Armed Services except the Coast Guard (The Rucksack War, 2010).
The lessons learned from Grenada would result in legislation that allowed for the efficiency of joint operations observed in future successes such as the killing of Bin Laden – the mastermind behind 9/11 (Small Wars Journal, 2013).
These are but a few hallmarks of our history. We have not even taught the truth about our own process under Eric Gairy to be granted independence for himself, not for Grenadians. Even the British parliamentarians in Hansard notes acknowledged he was a dictator. He became more ruthless and terrorised his opponents with his gangs and thugs. But thanks to CXC education tyranny, other tyrants stay under the radar. Given all this, should slavery be given the predominance it has in our history?
Anyway, let’s talk about “reparations” as being sought after for Grenada. Slavery in the West Indies was particularly cruel, and Grenada was no exception. In the autobiography of another African slave, Olaudah Equiano, Grenada was among countries in the region he wished to never see again because of the cruelty he witnessed here; Barbados and Montserrat were also part of that list.
This story is corroborated by Ottobah Cugoano. But this historical cruelty is not an excuse for reparations. Why should descendants of victims (themselves not victims), be paid by the descendants of the guilty, (themselves not guilty)?
If there is a practical side to this, I would like someone to show me, because that money will simply be lost in the pockets of our crooked politicians anyway. Think about this: Why should the money of Britain’s working and poor, (black and white if you wish to go there) pay the politicians of Jamaica or Grenada?
Do you think any hard-working Jamaican will get $10.00? If you think there would even be distribution, I laugh at you. Why would they give ordinary Jamaicans money when they won’t even give many of them running water, which they have in abundance?
From the outset, those at the forefront of the Reparations Commission, like Chairman Mr. Arley Gill, must first search their hearts and see whether they have done anything to others to deserve paying them reparations and have denied doing so.
Even if only you, personally, know the truth, you should still do the right thing, because God sees everything. That may give you the moral threshold on which to make the demand. However, to set things in perspective and not knock the proverbial wind out of your slave ship, I wish to say that the Grenadian population is not solely or mostly made up of the descendants of slaves.
Slavery in the British Empire was illegalised in 1833, making the descendants of those ex-slaves, the children of free men. But if you wish to call those free men slaves anyway, many of them left Grenada after emancipation due to a myriad of factors.
At the same time, you had many people from many countries coming in. This includes Portuguese people (look at some of the people in Gouyave), Chinese, Indians, and Australians. We must be also aware that dark-coloured skin does not belong to Africa alone: there is dark skin from India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Moldova, China and native tribes.
Black skin does not inherently denote African lineage. In Grenada many of your Portuguese outnumbered your descendants of slaves (Many were lumberjacks). Your Indians and Dutchmen did the same. Many also came from South America and even from back then, some came from the Middle East including Malta.
Slavery is not endemic to Africa, particularly Western Africa. Current and Grenadians’ views of slavery are both foolish and naïve, for forced labour without pay is very attractive to the very ones who proclaim against it: They don’t even equate, want to, nor will they say very clearly that communism is slavery – forced labour without pay. Those who call for reparations are hard task masters.
Those who call for money and extra rights in order to undo a committed wrong, do not wish to work their own land, make their own cloth, run their own businesses. They wish – they always have, always will – want to be served without recompense to their servants.
Those who claim to be the archenemies of slavery want to bask in the “glory of China” and glorify the system by which it operates with teamwork for the benefit of one.
Reparations! Reparations! Empty words so you can put them in power and serve them, while they preach to you their goodness of nature, and while you (the people) cannot even own a loaf of bread.
Aside from the immoral nature of reparations, I find it a flimsy excuse to claim that slavery is the cause of Grenada’s poverty. If historical slavery paralyses development of nations, how did America become the world power that it is? They fought a war over slavery, right?
Calls for reparations have been dogging nations ad nauseam. The BBC website notes that Grenada was the last in the region to establish a reparations committee following American George Floyd’s death. Well, what does George Floyd’s death have to do with reparations here anyway?
Let’s stop forgetting that George Floyd was a very well-practiced and convicted criminal, in and out of jail for years in Texas, was a drug addict (had deadly fentanyl quantities and cocaine in his blood at the time of his death, was convicted and jailed repeatedly on cocaine charges), held a pregnant woman at gunpoint years ago while robbing her.
He was a big guy, hard to subdue, uncooperative with the police, and knew all the right delay things to say to the police. Wikipedia has his criminal history as does the Daily Mail and New York Post among other information sources.
When liberals make a criminal an icon for reparations, that is oxymoronic. In fact, George Floyd is the symbol of reparation for his relatives only, they got the $27 million as pretrial settlement when they cried race related, even if no evidence of racism was brought before the court. If the six-foot, 200lb George Floyd died because of the knee of 5-foot nine, 140lb ex-officer Derek Chauvin on his neck that should not have happened.
The family said “racism” and fanned riots everywhere. The government-hired pathologist said he died of a heart attack, not of asphyxiation. Floyd’s family-paid expert said Chauvin killed Floyd and the government-hired one said it was drugs, but Chauvin’s fate was sealed long before he went to trial.
So, Floyd is no reference for reparations. So much for that unfortunate matter that has done a deal on dividing America, by murdering many, including police, and burning many of its suburbs with the help of BLM, Antifa etc.
Be assured that God repays both the descendants of the wicked and the righteous! But if you hate the transatlantic slave trade, why don’t you care about the penniless slaves being brought in from China? Many slaves from West Africa were physically bound but mentally free men.
With those that are around you, no shackles dangle from their wrists or feet but in their minds, they are bound hand and foot: call their real names they will not answer, tell them they are far from Xinjiang but they will not believe you. Even if they are on foreign soil, it’s just as if they are in Beijing under politicians’ boots.
West African slaves at least had a thirst for freedom. The slaves from China and Cuba being shipped out of their country without number, do not have, en masse, a drive for just, civil disobedience. They walk around imprisoned in their minds. The Chinese will not call for help because they believe and are convinced that the eyes of the CCP are everywhere. They are far more slaves than the West Africans ever were.
Cuba is big in this slave trade, this labour without reward – but their names are not called as perpetrators of evil by those calling for reparations. They call Cuba “utopia”, they call China “heaven”, they call Russia/USSR Valhalla. (The Great Hall in Norse mythology where heroes slain in battle are received) Those who call for reparations are merely destabilisers, nothing less!
Who are we selling out our properties to? The hated white man whom you berate but love to hang out with. Hypocrite! It is not justice to punish the unconcerned and uplift the one who claims to be a victim. It is unjust to use freedom as a stepping stone to slavery and call it activism.
Isn’t France still plundering Africa? That’s worth fighting against on behalf of our so-called African brothers! Or on our own behalf since France enslaved people right here in Grenada; but reparation from them is not on the table, is it? Even if Mr. Dickon Mitchell made passing mention of it?
It is apparent that the call for reparations has the handprint of the United Nations all over it and their satanic, communist quest to destroy humanity and obstruct the work of God in the earth.
There are many ways they carve up the human race: whether it’s black class, white, red class, Nazi, Aryan. If they don’t pitch us against one another, they cannot control humanity, you’ll be way too formidable, impossible to defeat when together.
But when they play the race card, things get easy for these demagogues. They don’t even have to help you fight for a concept or belief system, just discrimination by skin colour. Remember, these people are never faithful to the ones they claim to protect. They are not just racists, they hate people…they hate your guts and tyranny has no allies. Don’t buy into the reparation rhetoric. Shalom.