The Jefferson Cumberbatch Column – Today’s Morality, Yesterday’s Culture

Jeff Cumberbatch – Columnist, Deputy Dean of UWI, Law Faculty, Chairman of the FTC

It is, I suppose, inevitable in a modern developing society that previous conduct, not then expressly treated as illegal or even taboo, would come one day to be judged in the harsh light of an arguably more humane polity, one more officially respectful of the rights of each individual to dignity and autonomy. The examples of this ethical dilemma as to how we should treat past conduct that would not have complied with today’s more rigid moral standards abound. We see it in the modern regional movement for reparations to be made by those nations who profited from the practices of slavery and the slave trade that were officially condoned at the time although arguably contrary to international law. Now, the notions of slavery and a slave trade are patently contrary to international and municipal human rights norms and would not be publicly condoned by any respectable nation.

We see it too, in the relatively recent allegations of past sexual misconduct leveled at prominent figures in cosmopolitan societies, a phenomenon of seemingly global proportions, engendered principally by the #Me Too movement although, remarkably, not yet extant in the region or locally. Such instances of misconduct, apart, of course, from those that constituted an infringement of the criminal law such as rape and indecent assault or were otherwise patently egregious, would back then have been largely condoned as acceptable badinage between the sexes. Nowadays, the suggestion as to where a colleague who complains of cold hands could warm them might lead to the dismissal or the forced resignation of a senior Cabinet minister as recently occurred in Britain.

The recent removal of the name “Milner” from the eponymous students’ hall of residence at the St Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad as reported in yesterday’s issue of the Barbados Advocate would have also engaged this debate. The hall took the name of Lord Alfred Milner in 1927 as a result of his contribution to the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture that was established in Trinidad & Tobago. It appears to have been recently discovered, nearly a century later, however, that Milner was unfit to be celebrated as a regional icon because according to research, he was a self-proclaimed “British race supremacist”, had described Africans as “savages” and was a founder of the inhuman system of apartheid institutionalized in South Africa in 1948. In addition to this he is reputed to have been an architect of Indian indentured servitude in the colony; a proponent of military colonialism in Africa and Asia; and had also functioned as “an aggressive imperialist”, committing crimes against humanity in Africa.

Clearly, by today’s law and moral standards, Lord Milner may justifiably be regarded as an international floutlaw who, rather than having a regional university hall of residence named after him, should be sentenced to death by an international criminal court, if that were possible. Yet, the natural order of things in his day permitted him to carry out these atrocities with impunity. One instinct of the modern defence lawyer would be to argue for holding the existing system culpable rather than the man himself. However, given our powerlessness in the former regard, the easy alternative is to hold the individual solely culpable for his or her own misconduct.

The argument also presents locally in the discourse as to the aptness of the statue of Lord Nelson who, as Milner, also had a rather chequered past, occupying pride of place in our renamed Heroes Square, and the appropriateness of the nomenclature that still adorns many of our streets and institutions. Incidentally, what is the past record of Thomas Harrison, after whom our, in my view, premier boy’s secondary school is named? What if it is subsequently discovered that one of landmark institutions is titled after someone who was once a serial pedophile, a sexual predator or, as is indeed the case, after a eminent perpetrator of the international criminal offence of piracy that, as I recall from my brief and survived exposure to international law, is contrary to the “jus gentium” [law of the people] and thus regarded as inherently criminal?

The resolution appears to lie in the exercise of sovereign power, whether this is determined to be located in the people themselves or in their representatives exclusively. Clearly, the fairest solution to this dilemma in some cases would seem to be through a referendum where a prescribed majority is required for any change. After all, this is consistent with our notions of pure democracy.

There are some circumstances however where our policymakers should be expected to act in a decisive fashion and to determine, as they do with regard to both the level of taxation necessary and the mode of disbursement of the public purse, what should be the current political stance on these matters of nomenclature and its pantheon of statuary. I am mindful that such decisiveness may prove to be electorally detrimental and that a cautious administration may prefer for the matter to be dissipated in sterile recurrent public discourse.

Further, a jurisdiction such as ours that relies almost exclusively on foreign investment attributable mainly to its stability may scarcely consider itself free to tamper with well-established precedent. The question therefore begs asking, how autonomous are we really?

149 thoughts on “The Jefferson Cumberbatch Column – Today’s Morality, Yesterday’s Culture

  1. Centuries ago…which also extended to the last 50 years.

    Ya think ya were going to get away with it forever. ..and dont tell me not you, cause ya stayed on the sidelines and applauded the evil done against other people..that makes you just as culpable ah would bet anything ya also gave good advice on how to prolong it.

    But the longest day has an end.

  2. Say you now…lol

    But people are not prepared to remain silent on the issue of racism and discrimination or who is practicing it anymore…….so yall bust luck, everything is in the open and exposed…and especially exploitation will definitely no longer be tolerated.

    I remember in the early late 90s, every week there was a complaint at HR for me by some white psycho…lol…until HR got fed up of them…

    ….ah was just being my usual charming self, but those inbreds were used to negros they could push around…and I was not the one…it made going to work every day very interesting, nough of them ended up dosing on Xanax and Prozac,,.

    • WW,
      Bye I am off to slit my wrists because it just dawned on me that I am 30% English and approximately 20% Irish and 20% Welsh and since the English dont like the Welsh or Irish and have treated them very poorly historically and the Irish and Welsh hate the English, then I have only one solution–cut off my legs, arms then slit my throat.

      I do know how the oppressed feel but surely the solution is to live in the present rather than let the past eat you inside out?

  3. MoneyB….what you want from me, they are the ones Barbadosed yall because they were doing their ethnic cleansing routine and thought yall inferior, labeled yall petty thieves and criminals…set up a penal colony in Barbados and deported ya ancestors to serve their prison sentences…..ya want to blame Africa for that too.

    Here is my point…., it does not give you the right as minorities to practice racism, discrimination or exploitation against a majority population in present day Barbados in 2017 either, not 50 years ago….and not today…capeche.

    • WW,
      my point is clear, the white people in Bim and elsewhere are not a homogeneous group.

  4. @ Sargeant,

    Not just the Law firms on bay Street. Every major profession in Ontario has excluded people

    based on race.

    However things have been changing very very slowly.

  5. Hmmm……. I wonder how many firms in BIM base employment on the melanin content of the person? We should search them out and tar&feather them……let’s have some names of these apartheid firms in BIM.

  6. If ya real intelligent ya will know in a majority black country…it will not be based on melanin content, but on the most docile blacks who can be manipulated and mantrolled…..the house negro.

  7. Who cares MoneyB…they are just people…but they gotta learn to control the stealing, racism and exploitation traits they carry and practice on others…or suffer the consequences, nothing lasts forever.

    There is nothing special about them, contrary to what they think.

  8. LOL @ Money B point is clear, the white people in Bim and elsewhere are not a homogeneous group.
    Your point may be clear, but it is not sharp.

    When wunna enjoying the benefits and privilege …wunna does be homogeneous as shiite though…

    When the old ‘wealth’ wrested through the enforced labour, blood, sweat and tears of captive blacks was being handed down from the wicked generations of your forefathers …you did not complain of lack of homogeneity….

    Stand up and tek you licks like a man do!!!

    You know HOW many niggers suffered …even though black people from Africa are not a homogeneous group?
    You know how many poor-ass people in Barbados suffer daily, even though they are not a homogeneous group?
    You know how many DLP politicians will suffer even though they are not ALL homos?

    ha ha ha

    • Bushie,
      It is a very sharp point, but only for those that are themselves sharp enough to comprehend.

      I have absolutely no intention of tekking licks that I dont deserve, that is reserved for masochistic participants. I aint that kinky!lol

      Poor Bajans suffering is a fact that at this stage in 2017 but it comes down to very poor leadership. Proper leaders show those people how to develop themselves but don’t continuously provide money or freenesses over long periods. That is how politicians “lead” their nations into the ground at high speed. Peter must not pay for Paul relentlessly, Peter should help Paul to develop himself in an efficient, effective manner.

      I know how badly black people were treated and it certainly was revolting. The answer is not a handout though but assistance with personal development.

  9. An even stronger argument for all forms of racism, discrimination and exploitation of the Black majority population be dismantled from Barbados and the Caribbean forthwith. ..even if criminal laws have to be legislated and enforced.

    This evil act of exploitation of African people should not still be taking place in African countries and certainly it’s more subtle and overt form should not be still allowed to be practiced in Caribbean countries…

    Black governments need to be more vigilant and less careless and corrupt regarding the wefare of their own people. .

    “Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — “Eight hundred,” says the auctioneer. “900 … 1,000 … 1,100 …” Sold. For 1,200 Libyan dinars — the equivalent of $800.

    Not a used car, a piece of land, or an item of furniture. Not “merchandise” at all, but two human beings.

    One of the unidentified men being sold in the grainy cell phone video obtained by CNN is Nigerian. He appears to be in his twenties and is wearing a pale shirt and sweatpants.
    He has been offered up for sale as one of a group of “big strong boys for farm work,” according to the auctioneer, who remains off camera. Only his hand — resting proprietorially on the man’s shoulder — is visible in the brief clip.

    After seeing footage of this slave auction, CNN worked to verify its authenticity and traveled to Libya to investigate further.”

  10. i am shocked…none of BUs resident wannabe colonizers want to take a bite of this…

    it must be too big to

  11. @Gabriel November 13, 2017 at 4:17 PM
    I heard the man shouting this morning in a news clip on CBC radio.I said this thing called democracy got some explaining to do.It threw up aholes like the physcopath Trump and the clueless,feckless excuse for leadership,Stuart.Meanwhile that lucky old sun,ain’t got nothing to do but roll around heaven all day beginning it’s cycle of ushering in the celestial change starting Thursday 16th,that will see a sunset at 5.28pm one minute earlier than the day before when it will set at 5.29pm and bring on the coming doom that awaits this sickening bunch of neophytes and liars,thieves and bag blinders,barefoot chopshutters,sumsbeeches and hos….”

    Gabriel, you seem to have acquired (like our Canadian fisherman friend Hants) an exquisite taste in ‘Fine’ music.

    Which version of that popular ‘blues’ song “Lucky Old Sun? Frankie Laine’s or Louis ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong’s or Ray Charles’s?

    Yes, you are right about the coming dusk of disappearance for the current feckless regime of that renamed Deceitful Lying Party which has squandered its 10 years in the Sun given to them by a long-suffering docile electorate.

    Barbados has regressed about 24 years since the current brand of the DLP clock started to tick in January 2008.

  12. WW,
    Thanks for providing proof that Africans mistreat other Africans, and proof that Africans have been selling Africans for centuries, even today.

    Thanks for confirming my point that all peoples participated in Slavery intra and inter racially–same for religion and other variables. Very sad news indeed.

    I am awaiting the colonisers too.

  13. MoneyB…ya missed the point, CNN went all the way to Libya to expose the exploitation….EXPOSE being the operative word, ya wont have seen that exposure 10 years ago…but it will be a regular occurrence now, even in Africa……

    … more justification using Africa as a template or example to continue evil practices againt Blacks MoneyB.

    so in saying that….

    it has not even been 2 years yet that Bjerkham the jerk decided him and his racist sidekick Tempro were going to import cheap labor from St. Vincent…cause they dont want to pay bajans liveable wages and they are racists…the worst kind, i dont know why he is in the people`s central bank.

    …. within weeks it turned into enslavement of these workers, they had to go to the newspapers and EXPOSE JADA, bjerkham and tempro for modern day slavery…..their government in St. Vincent had to help them return home…

    the operative word is EXPOSE enslavers, exploiters and thieves…

    now thank me for that too.

  14. you are welcome MoneyB…

    …maybe it`s time for you and the other wannabe colonizers to EXPOSE racists, exploiters and discriminators too…

    make yaselves useful, for once.

    the fantasies some of you have to recreate evil, will never make it to reality….the spiritual forces of KARMA are way too strong, time for yall to fold or suffer the consequences.

  15. ….The answer is not a handout though but assistance with personal development…..

    MoneyB…bajans dont need no assistance with development, they need the minority thieves and exploiters out of their treasury and pension fund and to chase the corrupt ministers and politicians out of parliament..

    it is 2017 not 1817….the Black population are over 260, 000 strong and are not helpless…..

    …..their problems are they have been robbed consistently by parasites, corporate welfare rats and bottom feeders in the minority community , like Vincent etc….always seeking handouts by the millions and hundreds of millions of dollars of the people`s money and they are always with begging bowls in hand as though they are entitled to the black populations money…

    that is the problem….nothing else.

    start looking at the issues objectively in modern day terms.

  16. the fantasies some of you have to recreate evil, will never make it to reality….the spiritual forces of KARMA are way too strong, time for yall …. SO fold or suffer the consequences.

    this pretense of yours i know the black peeps have been treated badly

    the problems black people on the island have are minority thieves and corrupt government ministers and politicians….

    …..unless all those parasites are gone out of the people`s lives….they will always be exposed….their choice.

    there are no rocks big enough for any of those criminals and pretenders to hide under anymore.

    i would not want to be a thief, exploiter, discriminator, enslaver or racist at this time…all are being exposed…everywhere……

    ….even the sexual predators and pedophiles are now all marked.

    ya got it now, there should be no need for me to repeat this, ah know yall hardheaded though.

  17. Miller
    Actually I like all 3 versions.Google Stan Getz…Slow boat to China..featuring Eddie Barron,piano,Terry Lyne Carrington drums and Eddie del Barrio,bass.A treat.I think it was recorded in Copenhagen in 1982.

    • WW,
      As I have been forecasting the General in Zimbabwe went to China to seek permission to stage the Coup. Told wunna dont over glorify the Chinese, they are the Nuvo Colonisers!

      Chinese have more than 650 “Projects in Africa” wunna would have to be real stupid if you think they will sit idly by and lose massive $$$$$$$.

  18. How are we going to remember the life of Kamau Brathwaite and celebrate his many gifts – both as a nation and on BU?

  19. Are we going to recognise the passing of Kamau Brathwaite on BU? What is his place in our cultural history? Or is he another overseas Bajan?

  20. Is Kamau Brathwaite in the Barbados canon? Is there a Barbados canon? If so, what is sit? Does literary culture appeal to BU readers?

  21. (Quote):
    Is Kamau Brathwaite in the Barbados canon? Is there a Barbados canon? If so, what is sit? Does literary culture appeal to BU readers? (Unquote).

    What canon of literary culture in Barbados?

    How many Bajans have a bookstand in their palatial homes with a range of literature (both local and international) other than of the Judeo-Christian persuasion?

    Another national icon George Lamming will soon be discarding his mortal coil and very few would say goodbye.

    Bajans hero-worship ‘crooked-conniving-dishonest politicians, not men and women of real ‘high’ culture and achievement; but for the uniquely exceptional Sir G. St. A Sobers.

    Like our own Tom Clarke, Bajans are still very much growing up stupid under the Trident of self-loathing ignorance.

  22. @Hal Austin
    I am marking his joining the ancestors by reading The Arrivants aloud to my wife. Sometimes it brings us to tears. The following passage seems apropos: (and reminiscent of your insistence that Barbados is a failed state)


    Amen to the world of eyes
    Amen I say

    to blue skies
    the skin stained with wet colour
    the waves breaking in her flesh.

    Amen to the world of eyes
    I say
    Amen to hard edges
    to what your hands must hold.

    Welcome the world of the blind
    I say
    the world of the deaf
    of the dumb.

    Welcome the closed eye
    broken eardrum
    the dreamer.

    Amen to the world of lips
    I say
    teeth touching yes
    cheeks smiling.

    Welcome this touch that will not reach you
    words that will teach you nothing.
    Welcome the Word.

    For the Word is love
    and has been absent from our butterflies.
    For the Word is peace
    and is absent from our streets.

    Where is the love when you build the thunder’s mansions?
    Where is the peace when you are never alone?

    stone stripped from stone
    empty shells
    chapels of broken windows
    no one calls here on the Sunday sand.

    For the Word has been destroyed
    and cannot live among us
    look how your agates glitter
    look what your snakes conceal.

    When I was hungry, you fed me books, Daniel’s dungeons
    now I am thirsty, you would stone me with syllables.

    We seek we seek
    but find no one to speak

    the words to save us;

    there is no destination;
    our prayers reach

    no common


    no good beyond our gods
    of righteousness and mammon.

    — Kamau Brathwaite

  23. @ Miller

    Bajans hero-worship ‘crooked-conniving-dishonest politicians, not men and women of real ‘high’ culture and achievement; but for the uniquely exceptional Sir G. St. A Sobers.

    Like our own Tom Clarke, Bajans are still very much growing up stupid under the Trident of self-loathing ignorance.




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