July 31, 2014
We bin dey… done dat

Dear Mr Alma-Jah-owe,

I wish to thank you foh reintroducing Cocoa to my country two years ago, yuh appeared at ah time when our pull-it-tek-all fumblers had no plans ah dey own, foh de development and empowerment of de ordinary citizens of dis country. When Sir James announced at ah NDP Convent-shun in 2009, dat Cocoa was de crop dat will tek us forward, de ULP’s sin-ah-call comment was: “back to slavery all over again!” But is de same ULP wid begging arms, dat had to lick dey vomit and welcome you Mr Alma-Jah-owe.{{more}}

Yur marriage proposals met our Farmers mourning de death of ah sixty year ole relationship in Bananas with Mr Van Geest. Ah love-hate affair dat left Geest rich, our Farmers defeated and our diseased soil depleted of nutrients. Just like yuh, dis white man, Van Geest sold us de I-dare of getting into Banana production. He brought de plants free but from thereafter, we paid foh all de expenses: all labour costs from clearing de virgin forests, planting, harvesting, transportation via trucks and by Geest ships to de UK market. Every grain ah Banana had to be perfect foh de U-Ro man table, so we paid foh grading our produce, de rejected Bananas which were literally dumped along de roadside. We paid foh Mr. Geest to distribute our Bananas to ah ready UK market. Den when it was time foh our payment, we had no say, it was Geest who determined what price he was paying us. Ah recall when ah penny ah pound was ah fair price. And we never shared in his profits.

After sixty years ah blood, sweat and tears, Van Geest who never owned or leased ah Banana field in dis country, never dug ah Banana hole, became ah billion-here ten times ten, yet dey is not ah single Banana Farmer alive today, who can stretch ah hand foh a pen-shun courtesy de Geest Organ-I-say-shun. Senator Jomo, We want we grandfather back pay!

Mr Alma-Jah-owe, ah must con-fest dat we couldn’t swallow your terms and conditions, yuh were only different in approach, but similar in objectivity. Like Geest, yuh distributed Plantlets and provided training; yuh gave out start-up LOANS, Geest did not. But like your predecessor Geest, you formed yuh own Cocoa Company in which we had no say or shares. Den yuh insisted on ah written 50 year contract wid our Farmers, Geest’s was unwritten. You fixed prices foh de next 20 years, and yuh didn’t men-shun ah word about sharing profits!

It didn’t bother yuh how in dis partnership, all de profits stay wid you and none foh us. Since we not cultivating de lands fast enough, why didn’t yuh lease lands and plant Cocoa. Never, yuh will not be stuck in our country, your wings must be always free to fly! Look how easy yuh can break de contract and walk out right now. And what does de people’s Go-venom-mint do about all ah dis Rip-Off? Nat ah darn ting!

Ah Mr Alma-Jah-owe, Our Farmers are coming of age. “Fool me once, shame on yuh; fool me twice, shame on Me!” We could not allow another Investor from Yuh-rope to come out here and fool we again. Thanks to Freedom Fighters like Bro Oscar Allen, man wid ah respected weapon, his pen. Oscar smell de “Rape And Take” (RAT) strange, but why does dis RAT appear in all ULP ting! Oscar fearlessly launched a calm-pain to convince local Farmers “Dat yes we can!” Dey is now a legally registered Cocoa Producers Co-Operative Society Ltd (COPCOSVG). I am advised dat de membership is now 25, and de Society will meet on Tuesday, de 5th day of de month of Emancipation, at Frenches House. All Farmers must come to dat meeting. Cocoa Farmers and indeed all Farmers must organize, stand up and be counted and consulted when de Farmers business is to be discussed. Ah got some Cocoa plants from Sam Barnwell, so ah joining de Society!

But Mr Alma-Jah-Owe, at de wine-in up ceremony, it was announced dat de Farmers whom yuh have deserted, will among dem-selves form another Cooperative. Yuh see how to-get-her we are! When Massah was here we couldn’t form we-selves into nothing, look Massah ain’t gone yet, and we ready to form ah second Cooperative. Let us turn to our Grenadian Cocoa Brethren foh help!

Let me repeat Mr Alma-Jah-owe, thanks foh de initiative and de funds dat only antonymizes our Emancipation. Thanks foh reminding us of our “ only Massah knows how” men-tell-at-tea! Lie-Za say wait ah go see de pull-it-tek-all corrupt-shun wid dem 200,000 plantlets yuh leave to be distributed to Cocoa Farmers; but thanks foh de plantlets. Thanks in advance foh de pit-ants yuh leaving as come-pen-say-shun to Cocoa Farmers. Sorry we did not meet your side ah de deal, but our ancestors slaved for your ancestors in de Cocoa fields long before you were born. We produced and shipped all we Cocoa Beans to your ancestors in Yuh-rope, dey manufactured it into powder and candies, sold it back to us at high prices. And just like in your plans, dey kept all de profits. But Mr Am-ah-Jah-owe, dis is 2014 “We Bin dey, done Dat!” And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.