With friends like David Cameron …

15808680-Smiley-Emoticons-Face-Vector-Cunning-Expression-Stock-Vector-emoticon“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.


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.

free-cheeseSo 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.


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!

Scam-AlertApproximately 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.

Di ancestor dem a bawl

Two spelling systems are used for the Jamaican language below. The first, which I call ‘chaka-chaka’, is based on English spelling. The second, ‘prapa-prapa’, is the specialist system designed by the Jamaican linguist Frederic Cassidy. It has been updated by the Jamaican Language Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona. After the two Jamaican versions, there’s an English translation.


imagesLast week Sunday, mi go a Stony Gut fi tek part eena di march go down a Morant Bay. Nuff a wi deh deh fi celebrate wa Paul Bogle do 150 year aback, pon October 11, fi lead im people dem outa sufferation. Governor Eyre kill dem off. An wi naah figet. African people teach wi seh, yu no dead, dead, dead so till nobody no member yu. An wi naah stop member fi wi warrior dem. Man an woman!

To tell di truth, mi never directly walk from Stony Gut to Morant Bay. Mi left town late, so by di time mi ketch pon di Stony Gut road, march left out already. Wen mi a go up, dem a come down. So mi wait till dem pass an mi go a Stony Gut fi see weh Paul Bogle did live. An mi drive back down eena motorcade, backa di marcher dem. One long line a vehicle.

Irie FM eena di motorcade a broadcast all wa a gwaan. Dem carry dem ‘Running African’ programme outa road. Mi seh, mi ha fi big up Kabu Ma’at Kheru. Andrea Williams Green change her name fi suit her livity. A 25 year now she a run ‘Running African’. It come een like church fi nuff a wi. Every Sunday morning wi ha fi tune een six o’clock fi hear wa a gwaan eena Africa – pon di continent an all over di world. It no easy fi keep up one radio programme fi so long. Respect due to Kabu!


Lickle before wi ketch pon di main road, rain start fall. Big rain. Di marcher dem wet up. Dat nah stop dem. Dem gwaan same way. An pon di radio, mi hear Prof Verene Shepherd seh, di rain a di tears a di ancestor dem. A true. Di ancestor dem a bawl. Fi joy an sorrow. Dem glad wi member dem. But dem sorry fi dem backward one dem weh no waan look back fi true. Dem dis waan move on an figet bout wa gwaan long time aback. Dem no business wid no talk bout reparation. Dem no waan fix up wa mash up.

Prof Shepherd a di chair fi di National Commission on Reparation fi 2012-2015. An a di Commission sponsor di IRIE FM outside broadcast. Next week Sunday, wi a go back a Morant Bay fi ‘The Trial Of Governor Eyre’. Dat a one play weh Bert Samuels write. Im a one lawyer an im deh pon di National Commission on Reparation. An a Michael Holgate direct di play. Im teach a University of the West Indies, Mona.

If unu cyaahn come a Morant Bay, unu cyan ketch di trial pon IRIE FM. It a go start eight o’clock a morning. An a di National Commission on Reparation a sponsor di play an di broadcast. Dem a do nuff work fi mek wi know bout reparation. But wi cyaahn siddung a wait pon Commission fi do evriting. Wi ha fi help wiself.

Wi ha fi send letter go a newspaper. Wi ha fi call radio station an mek di case fi reparation. Wi ha fi aks Govament an Opposition weh dem a seh an do bout di issue. Wi ha fi put reparation pon di election agenda. Wi naah vote fi who naah vote fi wi. An wi ha fi tell CARICOM fi send off di letter weh dem a siddung pon fi demands reparation. An wi ha fi go a British High Commission go demonstrate. Mek dem know seh wi know seh a fi wi people dem shoulda get reparation eena 1834. No fi dem. Wi naah joke. Time fi seckle di score.


Laas wiik Sonde, mi go a Stony Gut fi tek paat iina di maach go dong a Morant Bay. Nof a wi de de fi selibriet wa Paul Bogle du, 150 ier abak, pan October 11, fi liid im piipl dem outa sofarieshan. Govana Eyre kil dem aaf. An wi naa figet. Afrikan piipl tiich wi se, yu no ded, ded, ded so til nobadi no memba yu. An wi naa stap memba fi wi wariya dem. Man an uman!

jFJ0_rIRTu tel di chruut, mi neva dairekli waak fram Stony Gut tu Morant Bay. Mi lef toun liet, so bai di taim mi kech pan di Stony Gut ruod, maach lef out aredi. Wen mi a go op, dem a kom dong. So mi wiet til dem paas an mi go a Stony Gut fi si we Paul Bogle did liv. An mi jraiv bak dong iina muotakied, baka di maacha dem. Wan lang lain a viikl.

Irie FM iina di muotakied a braadkyaas aal wa a gwaahn. Dem kyari dem ‘Running African’ pruogram outa ruod. Mi se, mi a fi big op Kabu Ma’at Kheru. Andrea Williams Green chienj ar niem fi suut ar liviti. A 25 ier nou shi a ron ‘Running African’. It kom iin laik chorch fi nof a wi. Evri Sonde maanin wi a fi chuun iin 6 a’klak fi ier wa a gwaahn iina Afrika – pan di kantinent an aal uova di worl. It no iizi fi kip op wan riedyo pruogram fi so lang. Rispek juu tu Kabu!


Likl bifuor wi kech pan di mien ruod, rien staat faal. Big rien. Di maacha dem wet op. Dat naa stap dem. Dem gwaahn siem wie. An pan di riedyo, mi ier Prof Verene Shepherd se, di rien a di tiirz a di ansesta dem. A true. Di ansesta dem a baal. Fi jai an saro. Dem glad wi memba dem. Bot dem sari fi dem bakwod wan dem we no waahn luk bak fi chruu. Dem dis waahn muov aan an figet bout wa gwaahn lang taim abak. Dem no bizniz wid no taak bout riparieshan. Dem no waahn fiks op wa mash op.

Prof. Shepherd a di chier fi di National Commission on Reparation fi 2012-2015. An a di Commission spansa di IRIE FM outsaid braadkyaas. Neks wiik Sonde, wi a go bak a Morant Bay fi ‘The Trial Of Governor Eyre’. Dat a wan plie we Bert Samuels rait. Im a wan laaya an im de pan di National Commission on Reparation. An a Michael Holgate direk di plie. Im tiich a University of the West Indies, Mona.

If unu kyaahn kom a Morant Bay, unu kyan kech di chraiyal pan IRIE FM. It a go staat 8 a’klak a maanin. An a di National Commission on Reparation a spansa di plie an di braadkyaas. Dem a du nof wok fi mek wi nuo bout riparieshan. Bot wi kyaan sidong a wiet pan Commmission fi du evriting. Wi a fi elp wiself.

Wi a fi sen leta gaa nyuuzpiepa. Wi a fi kaal riedyo stieshan an mek di kies fi riparieshan. Wi a fi aks Govament an Apazishan we dem a se an du bout di ishyu. Wi a fi put riparieshan pan di ilekshan agenda. Wi naa vuot fi uu naa vuot fi wi. An wi a fi tel CARICOM fi sen aaf di leta we dem a sidong pan fi dimaans riparieshan. An wi a fi go a British High Commission go demanstriet. Mek dem nuo se wi nuo se a fi wi piiipl dem shuda get ripariershan iina 1834. No fi dem. Wi naa juok. Taim fi sekl di skuor.



Last week Sunday, I went to Stony Gut to take part in the march down to Morant Bay. Lots of us were there to celebrate what Paul Bogle did 150 years ago, on October 11, to lead his people out of prolonged suffering. Governor Eyre executed them. And we’ll never forget. African wisdom teaches us that you never truly die until no one remembers you. And we will always remember our warriors. Men and women!


Kabu Ma’at Kheru

To tell the truth, I didn’t actually walk from Stony Gut to Morant Bay. I left town late, so by the time I got on the Stony Gut road, the marchers had already set off.  I was on my way up as they were coming down. So I waited until they passed and then went to  Stony Gut to see where Paul Bogle lived. And I drove back down in a motorcade, behind the marchers. A long line of vehicles.

Irie FM was in the motorcade broadcasting the event. They took their ‘Running African’ programme on the road. I tell you, I have to big up Kabu Ma’at Kheru. Andrea Williams Green has changed her name to reflect her way of life.  It’s now 25 years that she’s been running ‘Running African’. It’s like church for lots of us. Every Sunday morning we have to tune in at  six o’clock to hear what’s going on in Africa – on the continent and all over the world. It’s not easy to keep a radio programme going for so long. Respect is due to Kabu!


Just before we got to the main road, it started to rain.  A lot of rain. The marchers were drenched. That didn’t stop them. They just kept going. And on the radio, I heard Prof Verene Shepherd say, the rain is the tears of the ancestors. It’s true. The ancestors weeping. For joy and sorrow. They’re glad we remember them. But they are sorry for those backward ones who don’t want to look back in truth. They just want to move on and forget about what happened a long time ago. They can’t be bothered with any talk bout reparations. They don’t want to repair what has been damaged.

Prof Shepherd is the chair of the National Commission on Reparation for 2012-2015. And it’s the Commission that sponsored the IRIE FM outside broadcast. Next Sunday, we’re going back to Morant Bay for ‘The Trial Of Governor Eyre’. That’s a play written by Bert Samuels. He’s a lawyer and he’s on the National Commission on Reparation. And it’s Michael Holgate who’s directing the play. He teaches at the University of the West Indies, Mona.

If you can’t come to Morant Bay, you can catch the trial on IRIE FM. It’s going to start at eight o’clock in the morning. And it’s the National Commission on Reparation that’s sponsoring the play and the broadcast. They are doing a lots of work to educate us about reparation. But we can’t just sit back and wait on Commission to do everything. We have to help ourselves.

Screen-Shot-2015-07-01-at-8.09.23-PM-942x600We have to send letters to the newspapers. We have to call in to the radio stations and make the case for reparation. We have to ask the Govenment andOpposition what they are saying and doing about thei issue. We have to put reparation on the election agenda. We are not going to vote for those who are not voting forusi. And we have to tell CARICOM to send off the letter they’ve been sitting on, demanding reparation. And we have to go and demonstrate at the British High Commission.  We have to let them know that we know that it is our people who should have gotten reparation in 1834.  Not theirs.  We’re dead serious. It’s time to settle the score.

Captain Boycott Loses War Against Poor People

IrelandBoycottCharles Boycott, the son of an Anglican priest, was a most unfortunate man. He’s the brand name for a very effective type of social protest. But he was on the wrong side of the struggle. Boycott was born in England in 1832 and served in the British Army. After retiring, he worked as a Iand agent in Ireland. Lord Erne, an Anglo-Irish peer, politician and absentee landlord, employed Boycott to manage his estate.

In 1880, harvests were very poor so Erne reduced his tenants’ rent by 10 per cent. But they were not satisfied and demanded reduction to 25 per cent. Erne refused. Boycott tried to evict 11 protesters. When word got out, the tenants took action.

They were guided by the advice of Charles Stewart Parnell, an Irish landlord with a conscience. He was the first president of the Irish National Land League, founded in 1879. Their mission was to advocate for land reform: reducing extortionate rents, ensuring that tenants could not be unfairly evicted and enabling tenant farmers to purchase land.

Parnell recommended that when tenants took farms from which others had been evicted, the newcomers should be isolated. No violence; just leave them severely alone. Parnell’s tactic was first used against Captain Boycott. Workers went on strike.   Local suppliers of goods and services declined to do business with Boycott. Even the postman stopped delivering mail.

Boycott couldn’t get anyone to harvest the crops and, in the end, 50 members of the Protestant Orange Order volunteered to do the reaping. Even though there was no threat of violence, they were escorted by 1,000 police and soldiers. The cost of protection was much more than the value of the crops. It would have been cheaper to just give the tenants the 25 per cent reduction in rent.



James Redpath

Boycott’s name soon entered the English language, both as a verb and a noun. James Redpath, a journalist with the New York Tribune who went to Ireland to cover the Boycott story, was the first to use the new word in the international media. In an article published in the Magazine of Western History, Redpath tells how the word was coined:

“I was dining with Father John O’Malley and he asked me why I was not eating. I said that I was bothered about a word. ‘What is it?’ asked Father John. ‘Well’, I said ‘when a people ostracize a landgrabber we call it excommunication, but we ought to have an entirely different word to signify ostracism applied to a landlord or land agent like Boycott. Ostracism won’t do. The peasantry would not know the meaning of the word, and I can’t think of anything.’ ‘No,’ Father John said, ‘ostracism wouldn’t do.’ He looked downward, tapped his forehead, and then out it came. “How would it do to call it ‘to boycott him?’”

The rejected word ‘ostracism’ wouldn’t have been all that difficult for the peasantry to understand if they had been educated about its origin. It comes from the Greek word ‘ostrakon’, meaning ‘tile’. The Online Etymology Dictionary notes that ostracism was “a method of 10-year banishment in ancient Athens, by which the citizens gathered and each wrote on a potsherd or tile the name of a man they deemed dangerous to the liberties of the people, and a man whose name turned up often enough was sent away”.  Pity we can’t banish some of our politicians in this way.



Jamaican hybrid

There were some amusing responses to my column last week, “Time to Boycott Britain!” BobbieP wrote, “And to get this Boycott off to a smashing start, Carolyn Cooper has just announced that tomorrow she will publically [sic] demolish her prized British Jaguar sports car using a sledge hammer! From now on, she will only drive an authentically Jamaican vehicle, a pushcart. Now that is putting your money where your mouth is, Carolyn!”

I decided to respond: “Tata Motors, an Indian company, owns Jaguar. And I don’t drive one. But facts don’t matter when people get emotional about issues like reparations”. BobbieP wasn’t the least bit fazed by his/her errors.   S/he gave a half-hearted ‘sorry’ and then pressed along mocking the proposed boycott:

“Sorry for my mistake, Carolyn. I was positive that was a Jag you were driving at UWI. Jaguar may me [sic] owned by Tata, but it is still headquartered in England. Designed and built in England. If you want us to get serious about this Boycott, you need to come up with a more robust definition of ‘British’. Even the Queen isn’t British, [sic] her family is actually German! Most major brands are now owned by multinational corporations, so your simple rule about ownership won’t work”.

Even in an age of multinational corporations, my supposedly ‘simple rule about ownership’ has validity. Take, for instance, the case of the Volkswagen Group. Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Audi, Porsche, SEAT, Škoda and Volkswagen are all owned by the company, which has both automotive and financial services divisions. The company operates in approximately 150 countries and has 100 production facilities across 27 countries. VW has two major joint ventures in China.

As a result of the recent diesel emissions scandal, there have been calls to boycott VW. Consumers understand their collective power. And they know what ownership means. It’s a pity some of us can’t ‘own’ the right to reparations.

Time To Boycott Britain!

dettmer-popup“At his favorite seaside resort of Weymouth, the story goes, King George III once encountered an absentee owner of a Jamaican plantation whose coach and liveried outriders were even more resplendent than his own. ‘Sugar, sugar, eh?’ the King exclaimed. ‘All that sugar!'”

I found this gem in a book by Adam Hochschild, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves. What King George should have said was, “Human trafficking, eh? All that human trafficking!” And it wasn’t only individual planters who were spectacularly enriched by the unpaid labour of enslaved Africans.

Historians and economists have amassed the evidence. Britain’s industrial revolution was fuelled by the blood money of plantation slavery in the Caribbean. Bristol, Liverpool and London all flourished on human trafficking.   So there’s no need for any more talk about the right to reparations! It’s time for action. It’s time to launch a boycott against Britain until the right to reparations is acknowledged and a carefully managed process of restitution is begun.

A Caribbean boycott of Britain, initiated by Jamaica, may seem like idle talk. But, with Norman Manley’s leadership, Jamaica was the second country, after India, to boycott apartheid South Africa. At the time, we were still a colony of Britain. But that didn’t stop us. The South African government complained to Britain. And their response was that Jamaica’s regulation of trade was our own business.


'And who ordered the table scraps?'

Unlike the PNP of Norman Manley, the present Government doesn’t seem to have the guts to stand up for our rights. Why are we agreeing to take scraps from Britain’s table when we are entitled to so much more?   Take, for instance, this promised piece of a prison.   According to a press release issued last Wednesday by the Ministry of National Security, a “non-binding” memorandum of understanding has been signed between the Governments of Jamaica and the UK to “improve prison conditions in Jamaica”.

But that’s not all. The prison will also be used to get rid of Jamaicans convicted of crime in the UK! The proposed prisoner transfer, which has to be approved by the Jamaican Parliament, is designed to turn us into a penal colony.   According to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, “This is in the interest of both of us and is a good example of how we can work together to benefit people here in Jamaica and in Britain, too”.

Cameron definitely tek wi fi eedyat! What is Jamaica actually going to get out of this ‘gift’? A whole heap of criminals in a megaprison. That’s what. And when our home-grown criminals buck up the deported yardies and they start plotting together is going to be hell and powderhouse!

On top of that, I suspect that Jamaica is not going to make much money out of the construction of that prison. I bet you anything British architects will be hired to design the complex. And the Brits will get all of the high-paying jobs. Local construction workers might get a break doing the heavy lifting   But most of the promised millions will stay in the U.K. We will become a penal colony all for nothing.

It’s a well-known ‘development’ model. Foreign experts are usually the ones who benefit the most from overseas projects. Cameron himself admitted as much. Jamaica will have access to a new £300 million fund for improving infrastructure across the Caribbean. But guess who will get the contracts? The UK Prime Minister tells it like it is: “I believe that this will benefit British businesses that have the knowledge and expertise to deliver infrastructure improvement”.


Cameron also promised that US$9 billion would be spent in the region on climate change projects: “I am determined to ensure that some of that money will be spent right here . . . .” Cameron knows that it takes a lot of political clout to actually allow development money to flow into so-called developing countries. And “some” doesn’t sound like a high percentage.

Cameron probably thinks that these ‘monkey money’ projects will stop CARICOM from vigorously proceeding with a legal claim for reparations. Addressing the Jamaican Parliament, he brazened it out, “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”.

imagesNo prospect of deporting to the colonies the direct descendants of enslavers to serve their ancestors’ sentence for crimes against humanity committed here! We would need a rather big penitentiary that the British government would most certainly not be willing to build. Not in their best interests. And no repatriation of their ill-gotten gains! Like many a modern criminal, the known descendants of former enslavers are living high on the hog, luxuriating in the proceeds of their ancestors’ crimes.

The word ‘reparation’ comes from the same Latin root as ‘repair’ – reparare. Its fundamental meaning is ‘re’ (again) and ‘parare’ (make ready, prepare).   Money can never repair the damage that was done to Africans, both on the continent and in the Diaspora, as a consequence of trans-Atlantic slavery. But we certainly can’t move on without it. Even if it means boycotting our ‘friends’.