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The honourable MP is wrong

Thursday, October 11, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

The awfully confusing column by MP and deputy speaker Lloyd B Smith in the Jamaica Observer of October 9 portrays a woeful ignorance of history that has been perpetrated for long in Jamaica.

Trying to link every contemporary ill of modern Jamaica with the historical experience of slavery and the slave trade is patently ridiculous. Suggesting that there may be a peculiar West African strain of violence embedded in DNA that only appears in Jamaica after several centuries begs the question. There is no evidence anywhere to support any of the speculative thinking of the member of parliament. West Africans were not a homogenous group and Jamaica did not get a disproportionate distribution of the Atlantic slave trade originating there.

Just on African origins of New World slaves, the honourable MP would do well to consult an authoritative source such as the Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade by David Eltis and David Richardson (2010). It is also time that Mr Smith updates himself on the conditions of slavery on Jamaican estates or other Caribbean sugar estates. No one denies that plantation conditions were in general violent and unpleasant, but the Thomas Thistlewood's estate, while not unique, was merely one point along a spectrum of conditions.

David Hall

Clarendon

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