Difficult Conversations – Giving Away Your Birth-right

Every human being, regardless of nationality or economic situation, has the same birth-right. It is their right to be true to themselves. This may be called personal integrity – a consistent and uncompromising adherence to truth, regardless of the beneficial or harmful consequences of doing so. This right is for a lifetime.

Knowing what is true of a specific issue may not always be known, but it may be found through honest evidence-based (or scientific) discussion of that issue.

Adherence to truth is an invaluable possession. Like any other possession, it can be traded. Since it is invaluable, it cannot be purchased, because there is nothing of comparable value. It can only be exchanged. Exchanging truth for truth is a meaningless exchange. Truth can only be exchanged for a lie.

LEADERSHIP.

There are two types of leaders – those who serve, and those who are served. All of us are born entirely dependent on others for our survival. As we grow into adulthood, we desire to be both independent, and all that we can be. Servant-leaders implement policies that facilitate that personal growth, so that people can reach their potential.

For various reasons, some people prefer to be dependent as adults. Whether because of trauma or mis-education, some people have no real aspirations and are fearful of being independent. They prefer to serve parent-leaders, and are content with symbolic declarations of illusory aspirations.

PARENTING ADULTS.

Leaders who are forced to lead a dependent people are doing something unnatural. Responsible parenting prepares the next generation to become independent. A generation that prefers to serve a parent-type leader, rather than soaring, needs additional training to prepare them for adulthood.

Leaders are not supposed to parent adults. When they take on that role, despite their best intentions, they can only turn that loving natural act into something tragically grotesque. For example, a servant leader will aim to provide an economic environment where parents can easily care for their elderly parents. Parent-leaders will aim to force the elderly in institutions, where they can be efficiently attended to.

Paradoxically, the deeper the care that motivates parent-leader policies, the more the implementation of those policies tends to retard and suffocate the led.

THE AGE OF TYRANNY.

Those most retarded in their development, tend to initially view increasing Government forced control as a comforting motherly embrace. Those who desire to soar will feel the tightening yoke of oppression. If the public rebels against the suffocating policies, the nation may enter an age of tyranny as leaders forcibly try to maintain control.

Every nation has its extreme radical activists with unpopular radical agendas. Extreme radical activists continually invite leaders to force their radical agendas on the public. Wise leaders decline those invitation. Unwise leaders do not.

Parent-leaders who attempt to force radical agendas, that are not supported by truth, on a country, cause the people to confront their true selves. Those citizens are presented with the clear choice of either sacrificing their personal integrity to support their leader’s adopted agenda, or standing for truth. Barbados was recently tested in this manner.

EXCHANGING TRUTH.

In an age where almost all white persons were: racists, white supremacists, and/or enslavers, Horatio Nelson was the rare anomaly. He went against the racist cultural norms of his time, and employed and promoted black persons the same as whites on his ships. He hated slavery – with a passion, and likely freed more slaved outside of North America than any other person during his lifetime.

Nelson demonstrated excellence in the pursuit of truth. Following his death, several statues of him, of varying quality, were erected. The statue of perhaps the finest quality, was erected in Barbados over 200 years ago.

THE BIG LIE.

Recently, some of our extreme radical activists wanted Nelson’s statue destroyed. To achieve their agenda, they promoted Nelson as a: racist, white supremacist, enslaver, and mass murderer of Barbadians – without evidence.

More contemporary books were likely written about Nelson than any other person. Those books were written, during the racist slavery era that he lived, by his: colleagues, enemies, and independent historians. Those books contained the good, the bad, and a lot of ugly about Nelson. But none of them accuse him of being a: racist, white supremacist, enslaver, or mass murderer of Barbadians. That is a recent invention.

DEFENDING TRUTH.

I wrote five evidence-based cited research-articles to investigate the truth. Our radical activists responded with racial slurs. They also ignored thousands of documents in the historical record, and point to a single unauthenticated letter, published in an obscure slavery-supporting newspaper, years after Nelson’s death, that did not justify their claims. Further, the likely forged letter is not part of the recipient’s formal collection of letters received.

I was asked why I was defending that white enslaver of our ancestors. I repeatedly explained that I was defending truth, not Nelson. I further explained that once we crossed the boundary of deliberately accepting lies over truth, just to support an agenda that we may support, that we would damn the next generation to a life of tyranny.

The credible historical record of Barbados contains persons who are provably: racist, white supremacist enslavers, and mass murderers of black Barbadians. Our extreme radical activists do not target them, for the apparent reason that it does not tempt Barbadians to exchange their birth-right for a lie.

FEELING THE PRESSURE.

Some of our activists are opposing the Government’s foreseen military-managed forced mandatory vaccination program. Others are opposing being forced into Republicanism. However, this is only the beginning. Despite being manipulated into opposing camps, every camp will eventually feel the pressure.

Barbadians should rightfully protest against the pressure. However, like Sampson not knowing that his hair was cut, our activists and their supporters seem oblivious to the fact that they have already given away their personal integrity – and have none left.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Difficult Conversations: Stay in Your Lane – Part 2

If a mechanic and a lawyer give their opinions on why a car is not starting, we would likely believe the mechanic.  If the subject is an interpretation of a law, we would likely believe the lawyer.  In Barbados, we tend to believe persons who give opinions in their field of training.

Every profession has its activists who aim to influence Government’s policies.  Some activists become radicals, where they pursue similar aims, but by any and all means imaginable, including nightmarish.

Professions are responsible for policing their radical activists, lest they bring their professions into disrepute.  Radicals can do this by consistently making claims, that are easily disproved with credible evidence.  For that reason, radical activists rarely provide evidence to support their claims.

It was therefore a modern miracle, when historian Trevor Marshall did the unthinkable.  He recently revealed the main evidence that the government relied on to trash Horatio Nelson’s reputation, and remove his over 200-year old statue.

THE EVIDENCE.

Trevor Marshall revealed (in a letter to the editor, published in the Nation on 2 Dec 2020) that historian, Dr Marianne Czisnik, “documented Nelson’s involvement in the slave trade” in her book titled, ‘Horatio Nelson: A Controversial Hero’.

I read the well-researched book, which is based on Dr Czisnik’s 2004 doctoral dissertation.  Dr Czisnik critically reviewed the available evidence, to strip away any myths about Nelson.

The book contained no information that “documented Nelson’s involvement in the slave trade”, as Mr Marshall claimed.  Mr Marshall is free to dispute this, by providing the page number on which his evidence can be found.  Our journalists, poets and politicians who actively promote his claims as truth, should encourage him to do the same.

APPEAL.

I have come to accept that in Barbados, an Engineer is unlikely to be believed in a dispute with a historian, when the subject of the dispute is history.  It does not matter that the historian’s claims can be easily disproved, they can only be disputed by other historians.  If they are not disputed, they are accepted as true by our politicians, and used to direct government policies.

Radicals can make obvious false timeline claims, like Nelson killing Martin Luther King during the civil rights era in the 1960s, and no amount of evidence that an Engineer can provide can make a difference.  Notably, Mr Marshall has made easily disproven timeline claims against Nelson, which our historians would not dispute – so I decided to do it, but I should not have to.

It is time for honest and brave professionals to evidence-referee claims made by their radical activist colleagues.  They need to be brave because radical activists normally respond to request for evidence, with insulting accusations intended to intimidate everyone.

Historians with integrity may be denounced as racists if they are white, or traitors to their race if they are black.  The aim is to intimidate independently-minded journalists, teachers, poets and politicians not to attempt such folly – and it has worked.  In modern Barbados, evidence about radicals’ claims can neither be requested nor discussed – without persecution.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Lord Nelson Put to Rest

Finally the symbol of an oppressed colonial past was laid to rest. Nelson statue for years positioned at the top of Broad Street and lately in Heroes Square was removed by the Mia Mottley government on the International Day of Tolerance. History the blogmaster suspects will view this act- delayed though it was- kindly.

The Removal of the Statue of Lord Horatio Nelson [ Nov 16 2020 ]

A Time for Choosing

The following was submitted to traditional media and Barbados Underground by Khaleel – David, Blogmaster

Like most Barbadians, I have not been tempted to engage with the debacle surrounding the statue of Lord Nelson. Many of us realize that, instead, now is the time to look toward meaningful change for people and address burning problems in this country. 

The inequitable distribution of economic power and social privilege is chief among theseWe must together discuss how we might solve that. How can government accelerate its manifesto commitment for a Sovereign Wealth Fund,  to assist in creating generational wealth for Barbadians? How can this Government can expand and institutionalise its existing policy of reserving a certain portion of work done on behalf of government to small enterprises, such as small contractors, artisans and joiners, to ensure economic opportunity for there persons. How can the credit union movement finally reach its goal of a credit union bank to be able to more fulsomely secure the financial interests of its members, most of whom are “ordinary Bajans”? How can we get another push in housing and land to ensure that the most disadvantaged have the opportunity to own their homes? How can we go about reforming education, beyond engineering a new transition from primary to secondary? How can we build upon recently started programmes in robotics as well as increase focus in technical and vocational areas to maximize the economic and indeed personal potential of our nation’s students? How does Barbados lead the charge regionally as we boldly step into the knowledge-based economy? How can we develop competitive advantage in this respect? Can we combine a renewed push in agriculture through the incentivisation of farming for young people with a drive towards leading the region in AgriTech, and do so in a way which brings on board the marginalized, through the creation of educational opportunity? How do we reconfigure our tourism product to be more nimble in these perilous times while also ensuring that the industry remains a source of wealth creation for “ordinary individuals”? How do we ensure we achieve these and more to create economic opportunity as well as social aggrandizement, and in so doing hopefully lessen the allure of organized criminal activity? How do we go about fixing families and communities to solve the same? How do we set about a comprehensive programme for the reintegration of ex-convicts into society, not only to reduce recidivism but also to ensure we don’t waste the potential of those individuals? How do we ensure that each and every one of us walk the talk of fundamental change in our own private lives, rather than simply clamoring for others or for institutions to change? Most pressingly, how do we move forward in the uncertain post-COVID environment?

These are all questions in desperate need of discussion. All of that is not only about economic survival. It is about the continued viability of the “Idea of Barbados” as posited by Ralph Gonsalves. In concluding his treatise on the subject he wisely counselled, “we must have faith that the idea of Barbados will endure, but faith is made complete or perfect with deeds.” We should use our collective energies to complete that faith and to perfect the Idea of Barbados. Let us not squander this moment by paralyzing the country in needless division. To mix the speeches of two American presidents, now is the time for choosing, for our rendezvous with destiny awaits.

Minister John King is Wrong

Submitted by Tee White (article submitted to the Nation newspaper)

Dear Editor

I was shocked to read your article in the Nation of 18 June, which reported that Minister of Culture, John King, is opposed to ‘dumping Nelson’.

Mr King is, of course, right that everybody can form their own personal opinions about any issue, including that of racism. However, the problem is that as Minister of Culture, he represents the people of Barbados. How would it reflect on our country if in international meetings he is defending the maintenance of statues glorifying racists and mass murderers even as countries all over the world are removing these offensive objects from the public space?

Mr King says that he has been reading the cabinet papers from previous discussions of this matter but demonstrates a shocking lack of understanding of the issue. I will pass without comment his preposterous statement that removing symbols that glorify racism, such as Nelson’s statue, amounts to visiting the horrors of chattel slavery on others. He appears to think that taking a stand against racism amounts to excluding non-Africans from the history of Barbados. According to this logic, every Bajan of non-African descent supports anti-African racism and the glorification of its architects. This is a terrible insult to those Bajans of non-African descent who strongly oppose racism and also demand the removal of statues and monuments that glorify it. Is John King not aware that the earliest rebellions in Barbados saw enslaved Africans and indentured Irish people fighting together against the oppressive powers of that time? Does he not see across the whole globe that millions of people of all nationalities and colours are taking a united stand against racism, and those who seek to glorify it?

The thing is that the foundation of racism, upon which modern Barbados was established, cannot be incorporated into any new Barbados in which we simply see each other as human beings because racism is opposed exactly to this concept and insists on categorising people into superior and inferior groups. That is why today, people are demanding that racism has no place in the modern world. You cannot defend racism and its symbols and at the same time claim to be against it. Would anyone take Germany seriously if it claimed to be against Nazism while maintaining statues and other monuments glorifying Hitler and the other leaders of the Nazi regime?

I wonder if Mr King’s comments about the parliament building, the wharf and elsewhere are serious comments. If they are, he really does have no understanding of this issue. Wasn’t Barbados itself around during slavery and playing a part in it? What are we to do with it? Throw it in the sea? The demand is very clear. Statues and monuments are some of the ways in which society honours individuals from the past. Those that glorify racists and people involved in the commission of crimes against humanity should be taken down from the public space because they are a statement that the society honours racism and crimes against humanity in the here and now.

There are, of course, many other issues in Barbados that need to be addressed in order to build a new and inclusive society that works for all Barbadians. However, we will make no headway with these if we are unable to confront and overcome the monster of racism that still disfigures our island. The taking down of Nelson is a small step in this effort.

On this issue, Minister King is quite simply wrong.

Read Minister John King’s article published in the Nation newspaper 18 June 2020


 

King not on board with dumping Nelson

MINISTER OF CULTURE John King is not in support of the wholesale removal of Lord Nelson’s statue in The City.

He told the media yesterday his opinions on Nelson and race on the whole were personal and he would stick by them, even if they cost him.

“There are a number of papers I am now studying, from about 2009, on discussions various Cabinets would have had on this issue, but on a personal note – and I know what I am about to say is going to upset a lot of people – I would agree that if you’re talking about Heroes Square,there are validations to the varied opinions. But I will not – and it could cost me everything – be a part or party of trying to do to others what we say has been done to us,” he said.

Calls for the removal of the statue were made again during last Saturday’s protest march through Bridgetown in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United Sates and across the world.

King said he did not believe in “stripping down everything and throwing it away”, saying there was a history before slavery and it was now time for a new mindset.

“If you are saying that during enslavement and the colonisation process, that our history, culture and way of life were wiped out and we came into places like the Americas as minorities, why would you now turn around and advocate to do the same thing to somebody else? The discussion we should be having is, if we want to remove this statue, where do we put it?

“How do we recognise the collective history of Barbados is not relegated solely to Barbadians of Afro descent? How do we also incorporate the history of the indigenous people who were here [first]? How do you incorporate

all of the groups that make up Barbados? Let us look at these things for what they are and use them to inspire ourselves to change our prejudices and look at each other as human beings,” he urged.

King said the Parliament Buildings

and the Wharf were around during slavery and played a part in it, asking if those too should be thrown away. He said the Nelson statue should be utilised to the advantage of Barbados while not disadvantaging anyone.

As for the Black Lives Matter movement, King, who as a calypsonian and Pic-O-De-Crop monarch performed social commentaries such as

Fool’s Paradise, How Many More? and I Want A Plantation, said he was accustomed to speaking out against social injustice on his own and would only join any group if and when he felt it necessary.

“I’ve always been advocating against racism, as an entertainer performing overseas and from growing up in England, so I know it well. What is going on in the Unites States has been going on for eons but it is now easier to see due to social media.

“[However] there are other issues right here I don’t hear people talking about, issues some people don’t want to protest, such as classism, which is also a knee on people’s necks. We need to talk about the violence in our own communities . . . and I don’t hear anyone talking about the history of the people we call ‘red legs’ in St John. I hope our future generations find themselves in a different place,” he said.

(CA)

 

Open Letter to Prime Minster Mottley and Minister King

Open letter to The Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, Q.C., M.P. (Prime Minister) and
 The Hon. John A. King, M.P.(Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports)

 

Dear Prime Minister and Minister of Culture,

John_King

Minister of Culture, John King

mia_mottley

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

I am sure by now you are aware that people in Bristol removed the statue of slave trader, Edward Colston, and deposited it in a nearby river. With this act, people in that city sent a clear message to the world that they would no longer tolerate the glorification of accomplices in the commission of crimes against humanity and those who grew rich from their sordid involvement in human trafficking.

In the present climate when there is a heightened global awareness of the need for zero tolerance towards racism and its symbols, it is unconscionable that in Barbados, a country where over 95% of its citizens are descendants of enslaved Africans, that a monument like Colston’s in Bristol, sits in the heart of our capital city. It is an affront to the people of Barbados and to those all over the world who are standing up to speak out against racism that Nelson’s monument continues to sit in the heart of Bridgetown. It is long overdue that this odious tribute to racism be removed.

There are no longer any excuses that can be made for your government’s failure to remove it. I am therefore writing to you as a concerned Bajan to call on you to do the right thing and remove this affront to the people of Barbados and to all those who today are courageously raising their voice against racism.

It would be very fitting, if it was replaced with a tribute to Nanny Grigg and to the many thousands of unsung Bajan women whose self-sacrifice, ingenuity and struggle have played a decisive role in our people’s progress from the pit of degradation that the English slave masters threw us into.

Yours

Tee White

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?

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – “…The Ball that Shot Nelson” (2)

Jeff Cumberbatch – Chairman of the FTC and Deputy Dean, Law Faculty, UWI, Cave Hill

Last week, the first part of this column treated the submission by Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, that the statue of Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson had outlived its incongruous presence in Heroes Square and that its continued presence there makes Barbados a deviant and a pariah in the community of progressive nations that oppose publicly revering persons (such as Nelson) known to have committed “crimes against humanity”.

In that first part, I also bemoaned the absence of a popular discourse on the Vice Chancellor’s proposal, an absence that I found mystifying. In the past week, however, there has been some public reaction to the proposal, most of it predictably defensive of preservation of the status quo rather than of its alteration by one jot or tittle.

For example, in last Friday’s edition of the Barbados Advocate, a correspondent, Mr Michael Rudder, chose to pray in aid the undeniable reality of the criminally forcible mix of the races present in most if not all slave societies and to wonder “if any of my African ancestors were responsible for selling any of their “brothers” to those who carried on the slave trade” while he admits knowledge that the family of one Caucasian ancestor did have slaves.

He then proceeds to make the amazing rhetorical point that since we are all mixed, “what does it matter that some ancestor was a so-called white supremacist? And he continues still rhetorically, “Did your ancestor see him/herself as such? Do we see ourselves as black supremacists?

Essentially, he makes the point that we should acknowledge our history and move on and not “keep holding up the rear mirror of our past”.

It is tempting to read this opinion in a sense clearly not intended by the author and to treat it as an agreement with Sir Hilary’s thesis that officially to maintain the statue of Lord Nelson in its current location is to hold up the rear view mirror of 1813 Barbados when Nelson was a hero to the existing societal structure, the identical structure that was to be the target of a slave rebellion a mere three years later, officially recognized by the elevation of one of its reputed leaders to the highest national status. Indeed, there is a bit of a paradox in having both of these men elevated to this lofty status, even if that status of one of them is now merely situational.

It is a conundrum that seems to pervade Barbadian society, where the general attitude appears to be “I do not really care what they do about Lord Nelson, but he is part of our history” OR the more extreme and silly, “if we move Nelson then we should remove all traces of English influence, including place names, titles and perhaps surnames…”

Veteran columnist Patrick Hoyos in his column last Sunday required “some sort of consistent rationale if Nelson should be moved” although he did not spell out what would constitute such consistency or who would be the ultimate arbiter of it.

Mr Hoyos also appears to have interpreted Sir Hilary’s letter in a way different to me. He construes the following passages from the Beckles letter as indicating that Sir Hilary would not have minded Nelson remaining standing so long as he was overlooking Carlisle Bay contemplating his exploits beyond the horizon…”

“ The Democratic Labour Party turned it around and deepened its roots when it had the opportunity to move it to a marine park on the pier.

• The Barbados Labour Party did not wish the Right Excellent Errol Barrow at the centre of Parliament Square and placed him out of sight of the Assembly in what was a public car park. Nelson remained in the more prominent place”.

Perhaps owing to my professional training, I prefer to base the gist of an opinion on the interpretation that what is stated later should generally overrule an earlier statute or decision that is inconsistent with it through the doctrine of implied repeal. I prefer to ascertain Sir Hilary’s sentiments from his final paragraphs-

“The assumption is growing, I have been informed, that the Government might rather citizens, in an act of moral civil disobedience, to take matters in their own hands, and remove the offending obstacle to democracy. This has been the case in the United States and South Africa.

Quietly, state officials could slip away and say that the people have spoken. Such alliances of active citizens and passive state have moved many societies. Barbados must move on.”

This most assuredly does not read as a paean to a mere relocation of the statue to me.

O Dominica!

I should wish to express my sincere best wishes for the full renaissance and recovery of the island of Dominica after its devastation by Hurricane Maria during last week. Owing to my occupation, I have come into contact with many of the people of that island whether as teachers, classmates, or most latterly students, and they have been without exception, some of the most gracious and warmest people you will ever encounter. Dominica was also the first country that I slept in outside of Barbados when as a member of the Animation Choir under the leadership of Mr Harold Rock, I sailed there by the Federal Palm, I believe, in 1968. I do not remember much of it now; except partaking of the sweet lime fruit and hazarding a taste of stewed mountain chicken.

My more recent visits unfortunately have been severely limited in duration and in free time, but I have seem the photographs of the recent destruction wrought and I weep for the country I remember.

O Dominica, the land of beauty

The land of verdant and glorious sunshine…

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – “…The Ball That Shot Nelson”

Nelson Statue Located In Heroes Square Barbados

“…As a symbol of white supremacy and slavery it was meant to send a message. But it also represented an excessive and brutal abuse of parliamentary power…” – Sir Hilary Beckles on the 1813 erection of the statue of Lord Nelson in Heroes Square, Bridgetown.

Readers of a certain age may well recall the Barbadian saying from one or two generations ago, usually expressed in the vernacular, “He or she goin’ ha’ to show me the ball that shoot Nelson”. As I recall it, it was uttered in the form of a threat, implying that there would be hell to pay if the absent object of the admonition did not achieve a task that I imagined many thought impossible or at least impractical, by giving a satisfactory excuse for their perceived indiscretion. As I have recently discovered however, the very ball that shot Admiral Nelson still does in fact exist, even though it probably remains as inaccessible as once thought.

According to the Royal Collection trust website – royalcollection.org.uk>-, a single lead shot or musket ball, about 15mm in diameter and weighing about 22 grammes, mounted with some remnants of gold lace from Admiral Nelson’s uniform lies beneath glass in a hinged silver locket with a gilt metal rope work border and suspension loop and forms part of the royal collection. The family of Dr William Beatty, the surgeon who removed it from the fatal wound after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, gifted it to Queen Victoria in 1842.

The recent initiatives in the US to remove historical monuments and place names from buildings that memorialize the Confederacy might have contributed to a local self-examination in that regard and once again caused us to reconsider the incongruous and prominent siting of the statue of Lord Nelson in what has been renamed Heroes Square. This discourse, as those relating to a capital punishment, the corporal punishment of children, the buggery laws, is prone to erupt periodically, to fret a fitful hour in the public domain and then disappear without any concrete action being taken by officialdom. It is as if the national conversation is enough in itself, a therapy for local public ennui.

The most recent attempt to reintroduce debate on this matter came last Sunday with the publication in the Barbados Advocate, (and during the week in another section of the print press), of a closely reasoned and cogently argued letter penned by Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, under the caption, “Why Nelson must fall”. Will this counterblast prove to be the local ball that shot Nelson?

In his letter, Sir Hilary makes the point that while generally nations that claim their ideological roots in the democratic struggles of the working class have opposed publicly revering persons and their accomplices known to have committed crimes against humanity, and while their governments seek to avoid using their considerable moral and legal state power to normalize the acceptance of such crimes within the community of victims, Barbados may be considered deviant or a pariah in this regard, given the central prominence in the public square of the monument the of Lord Nelson who he deems a “vile racist white supremacist who despised black people and dedicated his political and military life to the cause of protecting Britain’s criminal possession of the 800, 000 enslaved Africans during his lifetime”. He asserts further that this “blunt brutality of state power” as he sees it, is considered criminal in some quarters.

For him, the continued presence of the statue is “a persistent violent imposition upon the mind of every right-thinking democratic citizen and he turns on its head the familiar justificatory canard that English tourists will stop coming to Barbados to Barbados in the numbers we expect if the statue is removed.

Sir Hilary argues to the contrary that our English tourists are mostly educated and informed people who would feel more relaxed in Barbados if we appear “more dignified and less bowed”.

Unsurprisingly, as it is here with most matters that relate to the intellect solely and not to scurrilous gossip, to hints of scandal or to partisan political issues, the subsequent populist response has been underwhelming to say the least. To my best knowledge, the issue was not broached on either of the daily talk-shows during the past week, there has been as yet no column or letter to the Editor of either print newspaper on the subject, neither of the two historians whose names he mentioned in the letter has responded, and a perusal of some of the published individual comments to the letter on the other newspaper’s blog evidences a largely popular lack of concern about the issue.

One commentator agrees that the statue should not be there, but also argues that given “the many problems which are chocking (sic) Barbados, now is not the time for talking about its removal. Another queries rhetorically whether Nelson was not part of our history and if yes, why are we trying to erase history? For him or her, we would be more “constructive and productive” if we were to focus on the pressing issues. And of course, there is the not unexpected uninformed comment that Sir Hilary had absolutely no problem with accepting a knighthood “based upon the same English imperial honours system which rewarded Nelson for his accomplishments”. The writer further expresses the hope that on the same day that Nelson is removed, that Sir Hilary Beckles will “renounce and return his knighthood to the appropriate authorities”. This newspaper adverted to this regrettable confusion in a recent editorial, a confusion wrought primarily by the odd insistence on titling one of our highest national honours after a middling English honorific, even if in a different and local Order.

Some of this populist thinking mirrors that in the US, where some argue that the Confederate monuments are “a reminder of what the country had to go through to become whole again” and that it is important to save these monuments for future generations to see and learn about them …” Others ask, “Why are we looking back? Why are they wanting to remove our history? Isn’t this what the Taliban and ISIS have done? This is not a race war. It is about securing our country’s history as it is…”

To be continued…

Lord Nelson Statue Stands Like A Colossus In Heroes Square

Nelson Statue Located In Heroes Square Barbados

Nelson Statue Located In Heroes Square Barbados

It is the month of November when Barbadians will proudly celebrate forty two years as a sovereign country. We are told that the broken trident emblazoned on our national flag represents the break from our colonial past represented by England our colonial master at the time. The BU household is fully aware of the tremendous achievements we have made as a tiny island nation comparable with other countries better endowed with financial and other resources.

As a predominantly Black country we can wear our economic and social achievements proudly. As we  continue to bask in our achievements in the relative brief period of sovereignty, we are aware that we still have a long road to travel to foster that esprit de corps we will need  sustain our success. We believe that in recent years the focus of our development has been skewed towards physical at the expense of our social and moral development.

Under the previous government, to their credit they established the Pan African Commission, rebranded Trafalgar Square, Heroes Square and planted the Errol Barrow statue in Independence Square among our symbolic acts targeted at nation building. However the contentious issue of whether Nelson Statue should be removed from Heroes Square remains outstanding.

We suspect that the previous government played politics with this issue to not offend certain interests. Continue reading