He’s also an author and historian.
He wrote a book entitled ‘From Commoner to King’, a biography of our first National Hero, Sir Robert L. Bradshaw, and published by University Press of America, Inc. in 1992.
I first read it many years ago, but I keep going back to it for refreshers, and when I do so I gain new insights into the man and his times.
Now while some of you may not be Bradshaw fans, I still encourage you to have a read of this book. I guarantee that you’ll learn a thing or two and that you’ll be intrigued and absorbed by its contents.
And while some of you may disagree with Mr. Browne’s arguments, you’ll nevertheless be able to compare Mr. Bradshaw and what he stood for with those who lead today.
So, please, have a read.
For Mr. Bradshaw, true nationhood could be built only on a people : (i) who were educated across the board, healthy, cultured, confident in themselves, productive and patriotic; and (ii) who had control over their land.
With regard to the land aspect, in a major speech delivered to the then College of the Virgin Islands (CVI), now the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), in 1970, Mr. Bradshaw said:
“The black man had therefore better be warned not to continue to live only for the next clothing style, but to face and triumph over the harsh and relentless realities of today so that he may survive tomorrow. He is gradually selling out, instead of leasing, the few acres of land that he owns, thereby assisting in the systematic process of dispossessing himself of his heritage as well as a stake in his country. Let him not cry after the money too has left him”.
Five years later, he stood in Buckleys Estate Yard and acquired the sugar lands in St. Kitts for the people of this country, supported by, and in the presence of, every Member of Parliament. And in 1982, Dr. Kennedy Simmonds, paid for the lands.
By 2006, just 31 years after the land acquisition, nearly 8 square miles of St. Kitts had been mortgaged to the National Bank, all as a result of debt incurred by the Federal Government under the reckless, inept leadership of Dr. Denzil Douglas who took the national debt from $200 million to over $2.5 billion in just eleven years!
And by 2011, with the Government in debt for $3 billion, about a third of which was due to the National Bank, and with the dreaded IMF now in the driver’s seat, a deal was struck to swap the people’s land for the debt to the Bank.
Then the swaps began.
If Douglas remains in power, the people will lose massive portions of their land. But if he’s removed from power, the land will be saved for the people. The choice is simple.
And in the meanwhile, any sale of any of that land should be subject to review.
What would Mr. Bradshaw think and say about Dr. Douglas?
Forty three years ago, Mr. Bradshaw was expressing grave concern for individuals selling, rather than leasing, substantial pieces of land. Today, Dr. Douglas is doing exactly what Mr. Bradshaw didn’t want done on an individual scale, far less on the scale of nearly 8 square miles of St. Kitts. And worse yet, by the leader of this country. The ultimate, the ugliest, the most egregious sell out! A traitor of the worst order!
His friends, rich foreigners, on whom he will depend to keep him in power as he continues to try to fool and use poor, young people, are the ones who are to buy the land.
And the same poor, young Kittitians and Nevisians, who are given T Shirts to wear saying that PEP is a blessing, are to bounce around from one temporary job to another every three years or so, and to beg, borrow or even steal in order to get by, mired in indignity and despair, while Douglas and his friends live and lord it over them.
I’m sure you remember the sicko named Ariel Castro who was jailed in Ohio for holding three women hostage in his home for ten years. Sometimes when he gave them a meal or got them some ice cream he’d tell them that they were getting a blessing from him.
Deprive, dehumanize and insult people and then tell them that you are a blessing in their lives! Outrageous!
Whitman Browne says that “today, men with a history of having been oppressed, join with their former oppressors to undo the success of principled men who had championed their freedom and dignity”. He means people like Douglas.
He went on:
“Had Bradshaw lived, he would see weak Caribbean leaders, degradation in Caribbean societies, a general betrayal of the masses, corruption, and greed……”
That’s what we have under Douglas.
“Bradshaw, were he alive today, would probably look back at those glory years to recall struggles past and victories won. Then he would cry a quiet tear………….”
He would bawl long water, then he would go down to Church Street and kick all of them out.
Well, he’s not here. At least not in person, but his spirit will always be with us, and we must do what he would want to be done.
He warned us.