By *Jomo Sanga Thomas

(Plain Talk March 22, 2019)

Our country, Yuremei (renamed St. Vincent and the Grenadines by the British Colonialist) has a great history. If we learn it and sell it to the world, it may just become another attractive selling point for our nation.  Our people are a fighting people, a determined people, and a people who have willingly shed blood, sweat and tears in our quest for self determination, independence and liberty.

From the moment he arrived last Wednesday, Prince Charles should have been confronted with this history. Instead he was feted on the asinine premise that his mother is our queen and he is our prince. This is legalistic, ceremonial nonsense. Chatoyer is our king and we, his off spring, are the princes and princesses of this nation. Charles is a usurper and we are his enablers.

Charles should not have been greeted here. Not now. Not ever. We should have made an excuse, any diplomatic nicety as a rationale for why it would have been inopportune or inconvenient to accommodate him at this time. “Renewal @ 40” anyone? It is an affront to our dignity as a people to entertain the personal embodiment of the British Empire during National Heroes Month and one week after National Heroes’ Day celebration for national hero, Joseph Chatoyer.

Charles should have been reminded that the British Royal family was ceded control and dominion over our nation in 1763 at the Treaty of Paris. But our proud fore parents would have none of it. How do we allow Charles to visit St. Vincent without reminding him that from 1763 to 1797 our people fought two valiant wars against forces sent to conquer us by his royal linage?

Why was he not told that after British forces assassinated paramount chief, Joseph Chatoyer in 1795 our people fought for an additional two years before conquest? Charles should have been made uncomfortable with the gruesome facts that his people rounded up over 5,000 of our Garifuna brothers and sisters and banished them from their homeland, placed them on Balliceaux, a place the colonial governor said was only fit for lizards. Over 2,000 of them perished there and the governor had the gumption to declare that they died because the food served was too good for them.

Charles should have been told that his nation committed war crimes, genocide against our people. Someone should have looked into his eyes and told him there is no statute of limitation on genocide and war crimes.

Charles should have been given a lesson in Garifuna, Kalinago heroism, determination and resistance. Our people’s history should have been traced. He should have been confronted with the facts that the remaining Garifuna were shipped to Roatan, an island in the bay of Honduras, where some initially migrated to Honduras, Belize and Nicaragua and later to the United States.

Charles forebears tried to annihilate our people, but banishment was a blessing in disguise. Exile allowed those in the diaspora to retain the language, religion, history and culture while colonialism and domination from conquest to independence destroyed our Garifuna history, language and culture at home.

A lesson in the history of Yuremei and its people would have allowed Charles to understand that our commitment to freedom explains why of all the countries conquered by the enslaving powers, Yuremei experience of chattel slavery was the shortest, a mere 41 years. Barbados, for example, was conquered and dominated from 1640.

Charles should know that it was his royal family in 1670 that formed a company that went into Africa, stole and enslaved our ancestors, dehumanised them and brought them to the New World, where they worked for 100’s of years. Charles should have left here with the inconvenient truth pounding in his head that the comfort, wealth and riches that he and his ilk enjoy came from our people’s labour.

Was Charles reminded that when our country became independent 40 years ago, his mother left us with an illiteracy rate of over 50 per cent, a ramshackle health system with an old colonial military barracks as a hospital? Who looked Charles in the eye and scolded him for the fact that while the Caribbean was once seen as the most prized piece of real estate in the world, for the riches it brought to England and the enslaving world, his family saw it fit to build only two secondary schools after 181 years of colonial domination?

Charles should not have left here without knowing that Yuremei is the modern day capitol of the reparations movement. Did anyone remind him that the first regional reparations conference was held here in 2013? Does he know that our nation pounded the reparations drum for years at the United Nation? Is Charles aware that it was our leadership that led CARICOM to call on the former enslaving powers, especially Britain, to pay reparations for genocide, slavery and underdevelopment brought on by colonialism?

Who told Charles that all Caribbean people were insulted when, in 2017, former British PM Dave Cameron, whose family, as was his, held thousands of enslaved Africans across the region, declared in Jamaica that we the descendants of those humans who were viewed and treated as property should get over our past (African holocaust) and move on?  Someone in authority should have reminded Charles that his family, his government agreed to pay 47 million pounds to the slaves owners and none to our ancestors when slavery was abolished in 1838. Charles should have also been told of the dastardly nature of his government in that the British government paid 20 million of the 47 million pounds and made our ancestors work between 1834 and 1838, the so-called indentured period to pay off the remaining 27 million pound. Does Charles know that we were not freed, but that we bought our freedom with our own sweat and blood?

In trying times like these, we should remember Caspar London. When Charles’ sister Margaret visited in 1967, Caspar, Patches Knights and others protested the visit with slogans like “Go Colonization Go”. For this act of bravery Caspar was mercilessly beaten by the colonial police. A sister who protested the assault on Caspar was kicked and arrested along with him. Does Charles know of this history of resistance to him and his kind?

No one here should be smiling for Charles. Our children should not line the streets to meet and greet him. His family, his country, England has a case to answer for the genocide and enslavement of our people. We say reparations now.

We must never forget Caspar’s teachings: Dare to struggle, Dare to win.

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

19 replies on “A reparationist response to Prince Charles’ visit”

  1. What nonsense is this it really seems like you have no idea who Jehovah God is and word this country st Vincent and the Grenadines is part of the Christian Nation isreal body of Christ known as the lost ten tribe of Israel established by Almighty God by under great Britain England a promise he made to Abraham today we are known as the commonwealth country rule by the larger tribe England we are of one tribe establish under God the English speaking countries our forefathers is the son of Joseph Ephraim to know who we are is to know the God we worship and serve to say we came out of chatoyer the indigenous and people prove to be a big lie for these people never worship Jehovah God but ancestor and Spirit these evil tradition is pass down and are still worship today Almighty God Jehovah father created all soul he knows every single soul that choose to worship him and place them wherever he chooses that is to spread his salvation plan to all the souls that did not choose to worship and serve him because of Satan great lies and deception again we are not of the indigenous People or Chatoyer so stop spreading this satanic lie to know the truth and your history you must study the word of the living God the truth will set you free glory to God Jehovah Amen.

  2. No right thinking Vincentian would ever deny that the indigenous people of SVG were horribly treated by the British conquerors.

    But Jomo Thomas ignores the elementary fact the French, Dutch, Portuguese, and Spaniards were also involved in the seizing of lands from the indigenous people and the importation of slaves from West Africa. The implications of this for SVG are that had SVG not been ceded to Great Britain after they defeated the French in the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) SVG would have remained a French possession, all the lands would have been taken from the indigenous Kalinago and sold to French sugar cane planters (as they were in other parts of the New World), slavery would have exploded, and Chatoyer would have been less of a footnote in history than he is now.

    Indeed, Chatoyer is no national hero because he was controlled and financed by the French who wanted to retake control of SVG after 1763. Had this treasonous alliance been successful all Black Vincentians would have seen their slave status extended from 1838 to 1848, the date slavery ended in the French possessions, and we would all now be speaking French, merci beaucoup.

    This very poor and selective history is a disservice to the Vincentian people.

    By the way, please inform your readers how you could be so anti-Royal Family yet willingly swore allegience to our beloved Queen Elizabeth II — long may she reign over us — when you were sworn in a Speaker of the House of Assembly as follows:

    “I Jomo Thomas do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. So help me God.”

    People who live in glass houses shoudn’t throw stones.

    1. C. ben-David says:

      As is implict in the revised version of this comment (see below), Jomo Thomas did not swear allegiance to the Queen in the last swearing in of Parliament because this oath was changed in 2016 to swearing allegience to SVG and to the 1979 Constitution.

      Had this oath not been changed, I contend that he would certainly have not declined the PM’s gracious offer to serve as Speaker of the House.

    2. Joshua Richardson says:

      I once admired and respected Mr. Thomas. Sadly, that esteem is now in the sewer. Mr. Thomas speaks with a Trident Tongue. He is in dire need of a Personality Disarrangement.

  3. Vincy Lawyer says:

    Totally agreed.

    On a homefront level, all we can do is teach our children the truth so when confronted, they won’t be afraid to walk the road less traveled.

    My kids know their history and acted accordingly to this visit.

    1. C. ben-David says:

      Much of this is fake or distorted history. I hope this is not what your kids are being taught.

      One example: the British monarch (“Royal Family”) was slowly transformed into a symbolic institution beginning with the Magna Carta in 1215, was firmly entrenched by 1763 and had nothing directly to do with the Seven Years War, the Treaty of Paris, the transfer of SVG from the French to the British, the colonization of SVG by British sugar planters, the importation of African slaves, the defeat and exile of the indigenous people, etc., etc.

      I guess you, your kids, and Jomo Thomas were at the library reading Karl Marx when this was taught in school.

      Fake or distorted history, all of it.

  4. What hypocritical irony we have in this very shallow man Jomo Thomas in his talk of reparation from the British for past slavery, when he is the speaker of a “rubberstamp Parliament” ruled over by an extended family, the descendant of the very instigators and perpetrators of the modern slavery. What hypocritical irony eh’?

    Jomo Thomas‘s rhetoric will only find fertile ground with simple minded Vincentians and the gullible. The naïve who will fail to see the hypocritical irony in his hollow rhetoric, as they will fail to observe how he Jomo and the ruling family regime can talk the talk but sure utterly fail to walk the walk.

    This shallow man Jomo constantly berate the UK for the happenings of the past but are happy to endorse the ever sending of SVG trained Nurses, would be Soldiers and Sailors up to the UK for service. Most of whom surely never return home to SVG. Indeed, only a few weeks ago we saw how the government with much hype, heralded the new recruitment programme.

    Jomo Thomas and his fellow charlatans demanding reparation, craving and wearing the honouree titles of Sir and the likes, titles that are awarded by the UK, constantly go cap in hand year after year up to the UK with their begging bowl for income support and Grant Aid, while berating and blaming Britain for their own in-house economic incompetence in in Government.

    Is it not high time these insincere individuals like Jomo Thomas stop encouraging Vincentians in looking to the UK for something for nothing, and instead be honest with us for a change, and admit their own incompetence in government? Indeed, hard work, ingenuity and thrift on the part of Vincentians, is the only sure way for us to pull this country out of the mess it’s in.

    1. toC. ben-David says:

      Implicit in your remarks is the fact that Jomo Thomas is insulting the tens of thousands of Vincentians, past and present, who have pulled themselves out of abject poverty to relative wealth both at home and abroad through courage, determination, hard work, ingenuity, thrift, and ambition. Shame on him for disparaging the achievement of such people by falsely claiming that we are being kept poor and backward today because of the absence of reparations for slavery and a non-existent genocide of the indigenous people in the 18th century.

  5. The past is the past. Charles visit happened in the present. If Charles visit had the purpose of him coming here for a history lesson, as Jomo suggests, it would have accomplished even less. The reparations issue shows our weakness and stupidity. Apparently we are incapable of taking care of ourselves so we believe that blaming the present day England for what thier ancestors did 200 years ago will somehow make us feel superior. For how much money do we want to sue them for and for how long? What will it solve? Virtually all peoples on earth may afterward feel they have the right to sue some other entity for something that happened in the past. Italy should sue Germany from when the Visigoths sacked Rome. The Germans can turn around and sue Italy from when the Romans invaded Germania. Brittian can sue France for the invasion of William and his Normans. They do not do so because they know that the past is the past.
    Are we a nation of cry babies and beggars that are too incompetent to wake-up and realize we are free and should be charting our own destiny instead of crying about things that happened 200 years ago? If there is a legacy from those times then why don’t we use our freedom to work on changing it instead of crying, begging and blaming others? I thought we were independent; then why do we insist on being dependent?
    People like Ralph and Jomo are not the solution, they are part of the problem that keep us in the past rather than from where we should be. I could write pages on how people like this are a detriment to our society rather than an asset, but I hope the reader gets the point.
    Our PM seems to like history but he fails to learn any of the lessons of history. We will continue to be losers when our leadership thrusts a loser attitude upon us and insists on blaming others for our problems. We need to stand up take stock of our assets and move forward instead of being fooled by paying any attention to the few in the ULP that want us to stay crying and begging in the past for thier political gain.

    1. Well said, all of it.

      “Are we a nation of cry babies and beggars that are too incompetent to wake-up and realize we are free and should be charting our own destiny instead of crying about things that happened 200 years ago? If there is a legacy from those times then why don’t we use our freedom to work on changing it instead of crying, begging and blaming others?”

      For these left-wing ideologues and self-serving down-pressers and compulsive beggars, the answer is a loud “YES!”

  6. Wayne Lawrence says:

    Thank you for printing FACTS and exposing the royal farce. People sucking up to and worshipping the same people that systematically killed, enslaved and stole from their ancestors. This needs to posted everywhere and taught in school.

  7. Please tell us, Mr. Thomas, why Great Britain is still giving us reparations in the form of preferential import regulations based on historical ties that continue to flourish (https://news784.com/local-news/uk-signs-new-trade-pact-with-st-vincent/ )?

    Reparations and other developmental assistance to SVG began with the ceding of what was essentially a French colony to the British following the Seven Years War and the Signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763. They have never stopped. Never.

    Had France not ceded SVG to the British, we would never have heard of Chatoyer, a traitor in the employ of the French colonists, we would all be speaking French, and slavery would have ended in 1848 (when it ended in all the French overseas possessions) 10 years later than it actually ended.

    Or we could have developed into the same basket case country like Haiti which defeated the French and gained independence in 1804 and was thereafter ruled over by a series of vicious dictators.

    King Chatoyer? Give me a break!

  8. Charles should be told that his family is not of royal blood and the curse of the people of our lands will not let them rest in peace, Charles should be told we are the children of the living God of ISREAL NOT THE ONE THEY NAME IN 1947 THE GOD OF JACOB AND WE ARE ON THE RISE YOU STOLE FROM US YOU KILLED OUR PEOPLE RAPED OUR WOMEN AND MOST OF ALL YOU AND YOU CHILDREN FOR A MILLION GENERATIONS SHOULD BE CURSE WITH THE WORST THINGS TO COME.

  9. Now see this and read again Jomo’s insincere mantra, so often repeated time and time again by Ralph Gonsalves and the likes in their deceitful attempts to win over simple-minded Vincentians to their Marxist cause, where gullible individuals vie for something for nothing. Hope there being put on offer by a bunch of disingenuous devious charlatans.

    “In a small ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Conference Room on Monday March 25th, 2019, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sir Louis Straker welcomed the delegation, noting it was exciting to have them here as many young people have shown an interest in entering the service of the Royal Navy.” https://news784.com/local-news/royal-navy-recruiters-visit-svg/

    Just how those ULP pretenders square the circle of their words and deeds perhaps Jomo could tell us! Of course, it is very true that Con-artist, fraudsters, swindlers and tricksters always doublespeak with a fork- tongue.

    1. If preferential acceptance into the British navy (and army) for our people is not a form of “reparation” for past injustices including slavery (an institution which was certainly legal when it was practiced), then I don’t know what the term means. And neither does Jomo who confuses it with blackmail for the alleged sins of long dead ancestors.

    2. Well said, but at least the Comrade has repeated time and time again that he and his government only have friends not enemies, least of all the Americans, a very diplomatic position to say the least.

      I am convinced that the PM regrets having made Comrade Thomas the Speaker of the House, a move I believe he thought would control the man’s thoroughly discredited Marxist rhetoric including constant attacks against the 100 percent capitalist policies of this mainly politico-economic moderate ULP regime which seeks to increase benefits to the unemployed and working poor (albeit to also gain their votes on election day) while doing all he can to attract direct foreign investment in the tourist and other industries.

      His opponents must stop attacking the PM as being an old style Marxist, an absurdity that is clearly contradicted by his policies even as it sometimes also contradicted by his bully pulpit statements, utterances that he has never put into place unlike some of his past and present political heroes like Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Casto, Maurice Bishop, and Hugo Chávez.

      Dr. Gonsalves mantra could well be: “Long live Marxist revolutions but not hear at home, thank you very much” a position that has earned Comrade Jomo’s ire.

      The Comrade has matured intellectually and politically over the past 18 years and has learned from experience that a mixed social welfare-free enterprise economy rooted in the democratic will of the people best serves this resource poor country.

      Too bad that he has enacted too many very bad politices like building Argyle International Airport, overseeing the degradation of our once charming capital city, allowing a scam artist to build Buccment Bay Resort, and placing too many of our apples in the ricketly mainland tourism basket.

  10. If the British navy’s training of our coastguard is not an example of reparations (https://www.iwnsvg.com/2015/02/02/vincentian-coastguard-officers-get-royal-navy-training/), I don’t know what is.

    If the current presence of the British navy on our shores recruiting personnel, mainly persons from disadvantaged or low income households, to join one if the greatest naval forces the world has ever known and in the process raise the chances of the successful candidates for a happy, successful, fulfilling, and prosperous life, is not an example of reparations, I don’t know what is.

    These are just two recent examples; there have been hundreds more since emancipation in 1838 but Jomo Thomas et al choose to ignore all of them in their greedy attempt to get something for nothing.

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