I was asked as the founder of an African centered charity “The African Heritage Foundation” to share my thoughts on the sentiments expressed by Sir Hilary Beckles, that the statue of Lord Horatio Nelson should be removed. This I did and the article drew a number for comments which I think were reasonable for people who have been blinded to their original history and culture by centuries of colonial rule. It was expressed by many a person commenting on the article that Barbados has more pressing issues at hand to study than the removal of a statue. The gun violence that has recently escalated on the island and now helping our sister islands that have been devastated by the passing of hurricane Irma were stated as the important matters that confront us.
I am going to start my response to this by saying that a significant correlation exists between our colonial pass, present and if left unchecked our future. Let us not fool ourselves, guns don’t kill people no more than your kitchen fork does. People kill people and the gun is just one of the most convenient ways of doing such. Note that the majority of gun violence is committed by people under that age of 25. I would estimate 70% committed by people in the age group 17 to 22. These are mostly youth that are not 5 years out of school. Would it then not be reasonable to take a closer look at our educational institutions and what they could be missing that could be contributing to the blatant disregard for life being expressed by our youth? Seeing that I am not seeing any white youth on gun charges this article is directed at the African descended population of the island. Like it or not the black Barbadian is a descendant of Africa. As such he/she has an origin in creation. If the beginning of education starts with and an education of self, our youth need to know the history of their origins and the greatness thereof. They would need to know about the cultures they created and how those cultures governed the social lives of its people. The philosophies of Maat, which was the rule of law and moral justice among the ancient Kemet people and Ubuntu, which is an ancient African word meaning ‘humanity to others’, and also means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’, should be prevalent in every school. In short, Africa’s many cultures, heritage and history need to be injected into our schools in a major way if we are to better guide the minds of our youth. In saying this I am saying the youth need to see themselves in the institutions that they spend the great majority of their days in. When I say the youth need to see themselves, I mean they need to see their race positively represented visually and in text. To change the future we must be able to impact the present. Marcus Garvey said, once a person knows themselves they will be more likely to respect themselves and by extension others. So to curb the anger and the lack of respect for life, it is my opinion that Nelson must fall and the residues of colonialism with it. The residues of colonialism that blur their vision of themselves.
Imagery has always been essential when attempting to subliminally subdue people. Thus the imagery or lack thereof of ourselves in our schools has a great effect on our children. Where are the images of their heroes and sheroes to be found? Do they even know who their heroes and sheroes are? I do not speak here of our national heroes. I speak of people who have paved the way for each and every one of us who is taking the time to read this article. I speak of people like Marcus Garvey, Walter Rodney, Toussaint Louverture, Harriet Tubman, Amy Jacques Garvey and Amy Ashwoord Garvey, Kwame Nukrumah, Steve Biko, Bussa, Samuel Sharpe and countless others who have fought for the liberation of their people. How do we instill true pride in our youth if we do not create a foundation on which they can build? We are caught in the net of capitalism and as such the total aim of our being is to achieve materially - at whatever the cost. We sell health services for cash. The more money you have the better you will be treated. So in a real way money can buy extended life. Yet we frown on the man that sells drugs in the street as he attempts to attain the same dollar at whatever cost and question his ethics. The youth see this double standard and hypocritical attitude on the part of our society and with no guiding principles being daily instilled in them, they are little more than bombs of indifference waiting to explode. We should not be surprised by this as we the older generation are squarely to blame for the society's character. We can’t honestly say we don’t know how the youth get so. Do we really take a close look at the behavior of politicians in parliament at the debates? They show scant regard and respect for each other and think it’s funny. How then do we expect better of the youth. Have you listened to our youth radio stations lately? Do you know that the DJs who promote lewdness and violence by night in the parties are the same ones that come in all descent to work on our radio stations by day? That these stations big up murders and thieves daily on the radio. The youth are watching and listening and desire that same ‘big up’ also. If we understand ourselves more and what we need to do as a people I am sure we can create the type of society that encourages and supports positive growth in everyone. Again Nelson must fall and post-colonial attitudes that are self-defeating with it.
As I look at the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma in places such as Barbuda, St Maarten and other islands I think to myself this should be the ultimate wake up call for us to seriously put the topic of Repatriation on the table. The simple fact is, we were brought to these islands, we never asked to come. Every year we sit and pray and hope and wish that one of the many hurricanes that start off the coast of Africa, our original home, does not wipe us out. In the bible it says “for naught we were taken away, and for naught we shall be returned home”. Caribbean governments need to start looking at Africa as a place to relocate its people in case of disasters the likes of what is taking place now. They should be seeking to encourage closer relationships with the people of their respective islands and African states. The Caribbean has much to offer Africa and she has much to offer us. The blindfolds of colonialism make our leaders and most of our people blind to this reality, and dumb to this option. If our educational institutions taught the African liberation struggle we would have solid relationships with numerous African countries and a secure place to call home. Will we really trade in a continent for an island?
In ending, I am saying the removal of Lord Nelson should be the starting of a concerted movement by the Government to decolonialize this island. History is history and that cannot be changed. Not all historical figures need to be emulated. Especially those who like Nelson went to his grave fighting for the preservation of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the retention of these islands as British colonies. Winston Hall is a part of Bajan history. Maybe we should have a statue done of him and put it in Bridgetown. We can read about nelson in the History books we don’t need him looking over us, haunting us, as do the dregs of our colonial past. What makes us independent when our way of governance and our educational system are dinosaurs from colonial days? We don’t do things our way, we don’t even know what our way is. We are educated in colonial institutions which are colored black and thus remain mentally enslaved to the massa. If you doubt that, think about this! Slavery was an economic venture on the part of the European. He brought us here to make money for him and his people. If he still controls 80% of the things we use and purchase daily. What is happening is that majority of what we work for returns to him. So in a real way we labor still to build his empires. The difference is this time we do it willingly as we have been completely broken as a race. Ask yourself, what does the Black Man produce? Ask yourself, why after all this time agriculture for the average black man is a poor man’s business and for the white man it is big business. Does a flag and an anthem make us independent as a nation?
Maybe we should ask who does ‘BIM’ belong to. Like in the days of old we outnumber massa but we don’t own or control the plantation. It may look that way but when you take a closer look you will see the real picture.
Written By Simba
President of African Heritage Foundation