Do fuh do…

…na obeah!!”

One Hamilton Green – who signs himself as “Elder” in the letters’ columns – penned a missive in which he claims that comparisons between slavery and indentureship are “odious”. To wit, that comparison is hateful, and creates “hatred” between those compared. Fair enough. But the problem is, the gentleman goes on to do exactly what he condemns: comparing, in this case, slavery and indentureship – a comparison that he complained about being made by an eminent American professor emeritus. He even compared his credentials with the professor’s by boasting that he “spent time in London perusing records and documents available there” — implying that the professor didn’t!!
From his previous interventions, your Eyewitness believes this fella is the same strongman of Burnham’s who denied that eminent Guyanese historian Walter Rodney a job at UG — after the latter had not only perused records in London, but in Holland and Africa, about the subject matter at hand! In fact, Rodney wrote a book on the subject after he lost the job – History of the Guyanese Working People – before he was assassinated by Green’s mentor Burnham!!
But from the statements Green – who’d once rejected his “British slave name” and adopted his presumably original one of “Bilal” – made, one wonders which record he actually consulted!! For example, he declared conclusively: “From the records, one slave owner was paid 20 million pounds sterling.” Unfortunately, he didn’t state the name of that fantastically lucky slave owner, because from all the stated records – including the Act of the British Parliament Abolishing Slavery in 1833 – 20 million pounds were shared among some 47,000 slave owners!!
Another claim the erstwhile Bilal made was that “teachers and nurses of African descent …willingly and lovingly taught Indo Guyanese” – who ungratefully didn’t do a single thing for African Guyanese. But didn’t that most erudite Bajan novelist George Lamming write about “those Indian hands that fed us all – and made two blades of grass where there was but one”?? He was poetically referring to the rice industry which the Indians founded, and supplied cheap rice not only to then British Guianese Africans, but those of the entire British West Indies!! And as for bringing Indians into “the mainstream of a western white cultural environment” – weren’t African teachers trapping those Indians by pushing white values at the expense of their native values? As has been done to Africans, about which Bilal bemoans??
Bilal also claims expansively that “descendants from Madeira, China and India must know that they came here as free men, they came here, were paid, not so for the Africans.” But isn’t there this fella who keeps pointing out that some 40,000 Africans from the Caribbean and 13,000 Africans from Africa came here AFTER slavery – AS INDENTURED SERVANTS??!!
Maybe Bilal should spend some more time in London!!

…on work permits
Becoming “free”, we found out, meant the planters were free to look for the cheapest form of labour to perform the work the slaves used to do. So, from then on, the so-called “free workers” introduced have been agitating and striking to improve their wages and conditions of work. We all know the indentured labourers who replaced the slaves – in a “new form of slavery”, according to some – protested something fierce during the 79 years of indentureship. Look what’s going on right now in Berbice!!
But your Eyewitness was shocked out of his pants when he read that the Government’s now looking to bring in possibly some 100,000 workers from foreign – because we don’t have enough to fill the jobs opening up in the new oil-driven economy!! Holy cow!!
Is this on top of the thousands of Venezuelans already taking up the low paying jobs??

…on an African Bank
The African Guyanese-owned New Hayven Merchant Bank was licensed by the Bank of Guyana last year. Shouldn’t this settle one source of tension: the claim that African Guyanese are discriminated against by Banks in getting loans?? Especially now they’re linked with the African Union US$1.5 billion line of credit?!!