“I do hope that, as friends who have gone through so much together since those darkest of times, we can move on from this painful legacy and continue to build for the future.” There’s an aspect of David Cameron’s cunning statement that nobody is talking about. It’s the arrogant presumption of friendship.
Unlike so many foreign words that have sneaked into the English language, the word ‘friend’ is hard-core Anglo-Saxon. That’s the name of both the language and the people who lived in Britain from about the 5th century. They migrated from continental Europe and their culture and language were adopted by the natives.
The word ‘friend’ is ‘heartical’. It’s not high-sounding. It’s neither Greek nor Latin. It comes directly from Old English ‘freond’ and goes all the way back to the German roots of the Anglo-Saxon language. According to the Online Eytmology Dictionary, it means “one attached to another by feelings of personal regard and preference”.
How the backside we get to be ‘friends’ with David Cameron? A man who has no regard for us, and whose preference is to disregard the prolonged consequences of our enforced attachment! Cameron’s deceptive use of ‘friends’ is a confidence trick. Like the MoBay scammers, the British prime minister is hoping to con us into dropping our guard.
BAIT AND SWITCH
All confidence tricks share the same basic elements. The trickster understands human nature. S/he knows many of us are gullible, believing we deserve to get something for nothing. The trickster pretends to give us something to win our confidence. We fall for it. When the bigger bait is set, we grab it – hook, line and sinker. And that’s when the switch is made and we lose everything.
So here’s Cameron’s con. He shares our pain. It’s part of his legacy, too. All the same, he doesn’t need to acknowledge who caused that pain. And it all took place in the Dark Ages when, presumably, no one was keeping track of who caused how much pain. Nor who profited from that pain. This is the 21st century. We’re friends now. So let’s just move on. “Those darkest of times” are over. It’s a simple as that. As for reparation, forget it!
David Cameron would like us to believe we’re on the same team. And it’s a friendly match. We’re really Britons and, of course, Britons never, never, never shall be slaves. Again. The Queen of England is our head of state; we’re part of the British Commonwealth.
And our court of last resort is still the Privy Council. By the way, ‘privy’, as adjective, means ‘private’. But as noun, it means ‘latrine’. Since private business was done in the outhouse, it came to be known as a privy. And that’s where we’re outsourcing justice!
We used to play cricket but now cricket plays us. We speak English, sort of. But even the British are now learning Chinese, the language of the new global empire. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the UK last week to discuss multibillion-pound nuclear power deals. David Cameron took him to a pub for fish and chips. They should have had a curry. It’s the new national dish of England. That’s what happens when the British empire’s colonial subjects come ‘home’ to roost.
NOT A RED CENT!
At Emancipation, the principle of reparation was established. But here’s the scam. Reparation was paid to the plantation owners for the loss of their ‘property’. Human beings, who were reduced to ‘livestock’ in accounting ledgers, received not a red cent to make a new start as free citizens! The British Government paid a total of £20 million in compensation to plantation owners for the loss of enslaved labour. That sum was one quarter of the national Budget!
Approximately half of the money stayed in Britain. Researchers at University College London are engaged in a project that has been tracking where this money went. They note, “Despite the popular enthusiasm for abolition, slave owners had no compunction in seeking compensation – apparently totally unembarrassed by this property that had been widely constructed by abolitionists as a ‘stain on the nation’.”
One of the most shameful aspects of the reparation enterprise was the requirement that emancipated Africans should pay compensation to plantation owners for their freedom. That’s what the ‘Apprenticeship Period’ was all about. It was just another scam to force black people to continue working for nothing. Why would you need to become a ‘prentice’ to keep on working for backra?
Our friend, David Cameron, wants to con us into forgetting all of this history. But the “painful legacy” of “those darkest of times” persists. The repercussions are long-lasting. In order for us to “build for the future”, the British government must make restitution for crimes against humanity. In his heart of hearts, Cameron must know that friends don’t enslave friends. Friends don’t colonise friends. Friends don’t scam friends.
In his satirical song, ‘Reparation’, Vybz Kartel declares, “Dem call it scam/ Mi call it reparation.” I think Adidja Palmer very well understands that reparation isn’t about fantasies of wealth and power: “Every ghetto yute fi a live like Tony Montana/ Presidential like Barack Obama.” Reparation for enslavement is a far grander enterprise than mere scamming. But it does demand the unmasking of those who feel entitled to scam us.