Our Readers' Opinions
July 23, 2013

Black people, wake up – Wake up, black people

Tue Jul 23, 2013

Editor: Caspar London in an article entitled “MONSTERS IN PARLIAMENT”, published in THE NEWS of 03/08/2012, wrote: “Perhaps these political monsters just had to present their version of Gamal “Skinny Fabulous” Doyle’s Monster soca hit for Carnival 2012, so they came to Parliament that day decked out in their monster garb, like asses in lions’ skin waiting to frighten the Honourable Speaker out of his wits.” Caspar was referring to the members of the Opposition in Parliament who are all black people.{{more}}

Renwick in an article entitled “EMANCIPATION DESERVES MUCH MORE RESPECT”, published in SEARCHLIGHT of 07/08/2012, wrote: “Nowhere can we truly say that the descendants of slaves seem to value richly their own emancipation. In a world where information is a mere finger- tip away, consciousness seems to be light-years distant… In this regard, I must commend our own Prime Minister Gonsalves for his comprehensive statement to mark the anniversary of emancipation. What is even more commendable is that the statement was tabled in Parliament, our highest body, on the eve of the anniversary. Not many of our Prime Ministers are of that mold, neither those of today nor yesterday. The Ministry of Education now has a duty to ensure that this document is fully utilized in all educational establishments and that it becomes compulsory reading.”

Renwick Rose is exalting Prime Minister Gonsalves for regurgitating historical facts; but when in May 2013, in the very Parliament, the very Prime Minister Gonsalves said: “Ill discipline was not going to be tolerated… There will be a restructuring at the Port. No if, maybe, or but; included in the restructuring process is the laying off of 84 persons who are currently employed as port police.” (SEARCHLIGHT 25/06/2013),

Instead of condemning such autocratic behaviour by Ralph Gonsalves, Renwick Rose is taking issue with those who stood on the side of the oppressed, when in the SEARCHLIGHT of Tuesday 4th June, 2013, he published: “So, when, at the advent of the hurricane season, we should be discussing disaster preparedness and the impact of climate change, the big discussion is on Otto Sam being fired from NEMO. I am not saying that that is not an issue for discussion, but it pales in the context of wider issues. But for all too many of us, what we want to hear is where you stand on the dismissal – to hell with climate change. Similarly, when the matter of quality education and the way forward should be occupying our minds, it takes second place to the Government’s refusal to rehire three teachers who contested elections on the Opposition ticket. In the same vein, at a time when we should be discussing and debating the role of the labour movement and industrial relations, Government and Opposition are lined up against each other with 80-plus port police suffering in the process.”

Most significantly, the firing of the Port Police will be taking place on the 1st of August, EMANCIPATION DAY. Come FIRST OF AUGUST 2013, 84 families throughout St Vincent and the Grenadines will be without bread and in many cases too, no shelter. Does this not remind us of the sad stories told about plantation life when the slaves, OUR FOREPARENTS, would sit pensively reflecting on their plight, wishing for death to save them from their miseries. This expression of misery was reflected in the various chants we now cherish as Negro Spirituals, such as SWING LOW SWEET CHARIOT, WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN and SHALL WE GATHER AT THE RIVER, among others. In today’s modern day, Massa, as is practised by the Ralph Gonsalves led administration, come August 1, 2013, 84 families and their extensions will be singing Alban Henry’s : MONDAY MORNING ME GO LOOK FO WUCK, MASSA SAY NO WUCK TODAY DAY.

Otto Sam was fired after serving as a teacher of over 30 years, simply because he exercised his democratic and Constitutional rights and freedoms. Similarly, the Port Police were fired because some of them were conscious enough to stand up and demand what is rightfully theirs, as is reported in the local press. The following bear testimony.


“Some Port Police officers allegedly engaged in a ‘sick-out’ action during the month of April. The sick out action reportedly stemmed from the Port Police officers’ disgust over the nonpayment of increments owed to them. In a letter to Chief Executive Officer at the Port Authority, Bishen John, earlier this year, Labour Commissioner, Fitz Jones admitted that “increments are overdue to the workers”.

“In the letter which is dated April 10th 2013, Jones said that the PSU, which represents the officers, contends that automatic increments for the years, 2010, 2011 and 2012 are due and have not been paid by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Port authority.”


“This action followed the Prime Minister’s pronouncement declaring the Government’s intention to disband the Port Police, this after an alleged sickout by Port Officers, which is said to have occurred on Friday 12, April, 2013.”


“According to the Prime Minister, while he was on a trip abroad, he had been informed that the officers had taken industrial action, and members of the local constabulary had been sent in as replacements,”

While all this is happening, Renwick Rose, a black, progressive, political activist and social commentator, is saying we should not be bothered by the autocratic behaviour of the Prime Minister, because there are more important things to occupy our minds.

Never in the history of St Vincent and the Grenadines has the Government treated its workers with such contempt and disdain. Not during the period of colonialism or neo-colonialism. Could you imagine the Prime Minister of England, David Cameron, firing 84 workers in the manner in which Ralph Gonsalves did? The wrath of all Britain and the Commonwealth would have been upon him. He would have had to resign immediately.


Given the foregoing, how can someone with such impudence (insolently disrespectful, shamelessly presumptuous, inveterate bitterness, malignant hate and spitefulness) dare speak about reparation for and on behalf of the descendants of African slaves, the very people he now oppresses? Ralph Gonsalves is of Portuguese origin. His forefathers came from Madeira.

Apart from Ebenezer Joshua’s charge for sedition in 1951 by the then colonial masters, the Ralph Gonsalves led administration is the only one since Emancipation, 01/08/1838, to arrest and charge any Vincentian with sedition, when on Tuesday, September 19, 2006, Ordan Graham was arrested and charged with sedition, as is reported in THE NEWS of 01/09/2006, for saying: “if the Government does not rethink its draconian policies, ‘blood will run in this country’.”

Marcus De Freitas’ property was acquired since 2003 without compensation; some properties at Argyle were also acquired without compensation, quite contrary to section (6) of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Constitution.

Senator Vynnette Frederick, an Opposition Member of Parliament, a lawyer and Officer of the Court, was arrested in the company of two senior lawyers from Trinidad and Barbados respectively, also in the presence of the Leader of the Opposition, among others, within two hours of being freed of the very charges brought against her by a Magisterial Court, and escorted by nine police officers of the RRU and the SSU, only to be recharged with the same offences of which she has been freed. Doesn’t this in itself speak volumes of justice as is practised here in SVG? Yet this is the same Ralph Gonsalves who is in the front chastising and demanding reparation from the descendants of slave owners in Britain and elsewhere, but has the gall to use our taxpayer’s hard-earned money in hiring three British lawyers and a local black to attend a four-day CARICOM heads’ of Government meeting in Trinidad, all at the expense of the black-suffering people of SVG, to argue his “case for reparation”, even without our knowing it. What irony!

Charity begins at home. Wake up black people, wake up!

Matthew Thomas