Try as I intended, it doesn’t seem that I could “leave Emancipation month alone”. Leave it to the inheritors of the legacy and to those who lay claim to be true representatives of the consequences.
And the Working People’s Alliance think-tank leader Dr. David Hinds did adequately deal with my favourite theme (annually) for this month – the economic empowerment of African Guyanese in terms of village economies, agriculture, commerce and industrial/manufacturing pursuits and ownership. From dreams to reality under the Brigadier’s inspiration and supportive policies?
But two happenings inspired this my emancipation piece today. Last Saturday (12th August) I happened upon a marvellous documentary on the BBC on the consequences of slavery, emancipation and compensation for the poor “dispossessed” British planters after 1837.
Jamaica and Demerara/Guyana were featured most prominently and informatively. Fascinating it was to be reminded that Guiana British planters Blair and Gladstone, among others received millions of pounds because of Emancipation.
Then the investment of those millions by both absentee and England-based (former) slave owners initiated (today’s) economic power-houses in commerce, industry and finance in Britain.
I recommend that BBC documentary to all serious students of history.
Secondly, August makes me reflect upon such themes as old-time vacations, shows and strangely women of the countryside. (I remember young me in such places as Ann’s Grove, Fort Wellington, Leonora, La Grange and Versailles. What was I doing there? Another story.) Guyanese working-class females bear the brunt of poverty. Add in now today’s phenomenon that is the female “single-parent”.
Emancipation could be viewed as the release or setting free of persons legally; even a socio-political agreement concerning people’s liberty from ownership by others. But it is not really freedom in and by itself. Not at all! Real freedom has to do with one’s mind, spirit and, yes economics!
But today I remind, in the context of the emancipation of the Guiana slaves (1834-1838) of the role of the woman-slaves. (Even as I’ve been reading of some female entrepreneurs and the battering, bludgeoning and stabbing to death of women today.)
Heroines of slavery
And heroines of suffering, inspiration and emancipation. Even as a student-teacher mesmerised by Vere T. Daly’s revelations of our Guyana history, I used to ask about the roles of slave women.
Mischievously too, I wondered: Did Kofi, leader of the Berbice Rebellion long before Haiti’s – father children with his own African women? How did slave-women deliver babies? Are today’s Quaminas descendants of the 1823 rebel-deacon Quamina? How did the ladies assist the rebellions?
I made copious notes four years ago when Doctor James Rose facilitated two wonderful lectures to mark the 250th anniversary of the 1763 Berbice Slave Rebellion.
Distinguished Historians Professor Alvin Thompson and Professor Verene Shepherd were masterful and comprehensive on two afternoons in February 2013.
Again because of space, I recall just snippets of their presentations.
* The 1763 Rebel leaders “named eight of their most notorious abusers and killed a few of those on whom they laid their hands”… and even Governor Van Hoogenheim ”wrote about a seven-year old girl… indulging in only trifles and childishness being punished with 250 lashes and placed in the stocks…”
* “In 1817 a woman named America who was four months pregnant was accused of insolence. She was stripped naked – except for a “lap”- tied to four stakes and given at least 150 lashes by two drivers then place in the stocks…” (This was witnessed by the Rev. John Wray!)
* “Too many of us use sexist lens to views the history of anti-slavery struggle in the Caribbean… who would dare under-estimate the power of the support to the male rebels fighting against General Brady given by the women of Clonbrook Plantation… who even from prison waved their hand-kerchiefs, cheered and shouted: “Nigga mek bacra run today!” After all, men and woman were united in anger and united in the war against slavery”.
* Too few of us know of the travails and agonies of Susanna of the 1827 Demerara War; of slave women of Fort Zeelandia and Plantation Duynenburg.
* “Indeed women served an essential ideological function – enslavers appropriated their reproductive lives by claiming their children as property to eventually perform unwaged labour…!
I know that the foregoing can only provoke and titillate inquiring animals. So for emancipation month, could not our historians, writers and movie-makers produce work to inspire our country’s young womanhood?
When Granger and Jagdeo leave…
No I’m not losing it. Okay, it’s too soon to consider political life and leadership after the current President and Opposition Leader? Says who?
Oh I see. There is no structured succession arrangements within both the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) should any mis-fortune befall present leaders, thus requiring replacements. Unfortunate.
Don’t tell me that both major parties are not already harbouring thoughts of the 2020 elections in the back – or front – of their minds. Contemplate, just imagine, that both Granger and Jagdeo are absent in 2020.
Whenever I think of how the Brigadier became PNC leader, I think of Alexander, Corbin, Clarke, Greenidge and Norton. Any successor there?
The PPP succession will cause blood-pressure problems. But who could emerge from that closed-circuit cocoon? Not our business? Okay.
Pause – and ponder
1) Postponed: Just what should I eat?
2) When police court prosecutors, senior police officers, attorneys-at-law are all accused of high-profile wrong-doing so frequently now, who must we trust?
3) Why did so many appreciate my last Friday‘s offering? On Carifesta, farewell to Hector Stoute and why we love our ministers?
4) Is it true? They will soon tear down the old Stabroek Co-op Bank Building for a new vendors mall?
‘Til next week!