Columns

From Emancipation to slavery

By Veronica Blake
Carnegie

Thursday, August 09, 2018

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The five of us, retired professionals, were bright and early at the Emancipation and 56th Independence celebrations in the big, crowded park. We were at the first one in '62 and we missed one or two here and there when we were out of the island.

Only the national flags were confusing to the eyes and out of order because they flapped and folded in different dimensions and had numerous shades of green and yellow. We're still looking for the black, green and gold flag designed by our forefathers.

We saw signs of slavery. Slave masters mingled with their minimum wage, low-paid, no-pay slaves who work long hours but cannot protest for fear of dismissal. We saw slaves who bleach their skins to such soreness that not even Vitamin D injections can help them. Hundreds are unhappy about their blackness and remain enslaved to bleaching their skins. Wonder what Marcus Garvey would say to enslaved bleachers, tummy tuckers, bottom injectors, and vagina rejuvenators; as well as breast, chin, flap and jowl reducers. Some, still standing at 90, squeeze the black gel (kept in the medicine cabinet with pills) at any white hair that dares to poke out of their age-old heads.

The girls beside us pointed out uniformed slave masters and slaves who work at Customs. The slave masters know who is bringing in the drugs and guns and the Customs slaves clear the banned items and shut their mouths to stay alive. Other sets of slave masters handle human trafficking, especially children, and those loud-mouthed girls said the leader is straight from our real mother country. The taxi slaves who speed victims to the airports, shut their mouths and stay alive. Then there is Union Square, with sprawling drug addicts, being poked awake, early morning, by impatient pushers anxious to supply the needs of kneeling supplicants. St Stephen looks on at the destructive silence that protects the drug trade and its slaves.

How could we leave out the ever-complaining government servants; slaves of an ancient system that creaks under the weight of its overcrowded middle passage and its corpulent permanent secretary overseers. This system-enslaved group and their trade unions, spend decades griping, squabbling, arguing, negotiating over outdated, irrelevant allowances, perks, and gratuities.

Another set of slaves wanders around and gets lost in 'high' places, tells stories about their social background and their multiple-syllable qualifications when they have no subjects, no degree; no certificate, diploma or thesis to defend. Society members, the sometimes cruel executors, expose these slaves and their fake credentials and often treat them as mentally ill.

Some real slaves, however, are to be found in our over 20 informal settlements, squatter towns and garrisons. Where else can you find 500 or so poorly educated people who just capture 'open' land, build houses without permits, plant at will, raise numerous children, get free water and electricity, own smartphones, and have parliamentary representation? Those slaves genuflect and vote for the ones who they get the 'free' things from, shut their mouths about their 'shotta' neighbours who elude modern technological detection and stay alive with armour and ammunition. The secret, it seems, is to “see an' blind, hear an' deaf” and live to attend the next Emancipation ceremony and Independence Grand Gala.

I was threatened some years ago when I passed nasty remarks about a friend who was vacationing at a New Kingston hotel with another friend's wife. The bare-faced lover left a phone message: “She who keepeth her tongue keepeth her life.” I'm alive.

I see where historians have written to The Queen — Victoria Tudor-Stuart or Elizabeth Windsor — to ask for money Great Britain owes us. We want all that money to be used to emancipate, relocate, and educate the thousands now enslaved in the garrisons and squatter communities. We ask to be a part of the Reparation Committee for not a British penny of this reparation money should be lodged into a foreign account.

Happy Independence to the majority of us who are free and progressive people!

veronica_carnegie cwjamaica.com

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