Ah told Lie-Za dat dey’s ah lovely front page picture and story entitled “Warm Wales Welcome” (WWW) in Choose-dey’s issue of de Searchlight Midweek paper. The photo shows five Vincentian undergraduate students, part of ah larger batch of 40 Vincy Students who received Scholarships to pursue undergraduate Degrees in Wales Trinity St David (UWSTD). Man if yuh see dem, dressed in heavy winter garbs: jackets, gloves and knit (wool) caps; dey squinge-up like dey feeling de cold already, but dey posing dat beaming “say cheese” Vincy Sunshine Smile dat does show pon people face, when dey getting “ah Grand-father Back-pay!”
So ah had to explain dis “Grand-father Back Pay” story to her. Going back before In-deep-and-dance when de Co-loan-yuh-all-less ran things, every five years dey uses to revise public servants salaries, whereby everybody got an increase. Dey uses to ‘butter-it-up’ by retroactively paying ah “Back Pay” or ah lump-sum of six or twelve months ah de new salary at Christmas. Dat was no hand-out or Poor Relief, Wukers earned dat.
But dey was also ah period, prior to de Back-Pay foh Public Servants period. Dat’s in real Colonial-is-him or in Slavery Times, when we Fore-parents or Great-Great- Grand-parents uses to wuk pon dem Estates, plant Sea Island Cotton mek de most expensive clothes; plant Cane mek de sweetest Molasses and Sugar, Strongest Rum; plant Our-Root mek dey re-finest starch and Baby Feed; Cassava mek Farine- de best Cereal; produce Coconut Oil wid lickle or no Cholesterol etc. All ah these were produced on de Estates and exported to England, Scotland and WALES! And who were de Wukers producing all these products on these Estates? Our Fore-parents, de Slaves! And who owned all de Estates? Massahs from England, Scotland and Wales! And how much Back-Pay did our Fore-parents, slaves get? Not ah darm cent! Dey Backs Paid, from nuff whipping!
But Alas! Not every slave Master or Estate Owner was wicked, or should I say, dey was ah Slave Master who had ah Conscience, and his name was Thomas Phillips, one of de co-founders of St David’s College in 1822, now de University of Wales Trinity St. David (UWSTD), de same University dat our 40 Vin-sin-shun Undergraduates, five of whom are on de Front Page of de Searchlight paper, will attend at no cost to de Go-venom-mint and people of SVG, BECAUSE 200 years ago it was all paid for, from de Blood Sweat and Tears of de Slaves our Great-Great-Grand-Parents wuking pon Massah Thomas Phillips’ Campden Park Estate in SVG! Call it what yuh want, de Mighty Chalkdust in his Calypso called it “Ah want me Grand-father Back-Pay!” But it is ah Reward from God, ah Blessing! An Answer to our Fore-parents (Poor People) Prayers, It is ah form of Compensation called Reparation!
Nuff respect to Dr de Hon (Massah) Thomas Phillip, ah Philanthropist and ah Surgeon who had owned Campden Park Estate from 1821 to 1851. He paid 40, 000 pounds. Before he died, Phillips established in his Last Will and Testimony money foh ah chair in Natural Sciences. Phillips made sure dat descendants of de slaves on his Estate get ah piece ah dey “Grand-Father Back Pay.” Dis story belongs to Doctor Fraser who has done his home-wuk on dis topic, and will soon if not sooner publish his Long Overdue Book.
De Searchlight story reports de Pry-minister, Gone-Soft saying dat he is “really happy” about de Awards valued at about 4.5 million pounds (approx 18 million EC dollars). He hopes to visit de Prince of Wales and de Chancellor of de University and de Students. All Lie-Za wants him to do is to take de Vin-Sin-shun undergraduates to de Grave of Thomas Phillips, lay ah wreath, and dey must do so every year. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.
One Love Bassy
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.