When Christopher Columbus headed westwards in 1492 in Spain’s imperial search of the East Indies, he came upon the Bahamas, then, later on, other islands.
And he decided to refer to the people of the islands as ‘Indians’ although, like the people in the East Indies, they were not Indians.
So the name ‘West Indies’ for our region, and the name ‘West Indians’ for its people, were misnomers from the start.
But that didn’t matter to Columbus. After all, his mission was to make the Royal Family of Spain, and their hangers-on, wealthier and more powerful than they already were. And in pursuance of that mission, the idea was to conquer, colonize, control and exploit as many lands and peoples as possible throughout the world.
In those days, it was done with trinkets, brute force and unceremonious and outright taking of people’s lands. And religion.
Like his bosses, Columbus believed that he had a Divine right and a Divine obligation to do that, especially given the European perception that the people of these foreign lands were inferior, uncivilized and barbaric, and in need of firm dominance and direction.
It’s important to note that this patronizing attitude towards people, and this brutal exploitation of people and their patrimony in the name of God, were key ingredients in the colonial and imperial agendas of Spain, France, England, Holland, Portugal, Belgium or any other empire-minded European State, as can be seen in the very controversial 1899 poem by Englishman Rudyard Kipling, entitled ‘White Man’s Burden’, in which conquered and subjugated humans were described as “half-devil and half-child”.
Of course, I can’t blame God for any of that.
And in the case of, say, St. Kitts & Nevis and its other colonies, England institutionalized a system of indoctrination of these “half-devils, half-children” with the intention of turning them into eternally debased, deprived, dependent, disenfranchised and disempowered yet obedient, content, little half-Englishmen and half-Englishwomen, reciting the English poems, singing the British cultural and patriotic songs such as ‘God Save Our Gracious King (or Queen)’, and ‘Rule Britannia’, and conditioned into leaving their fate, despite all of that tribulation and trauma, in God’s and their oppressors’ hands, rather than taking matters into their own hands.
Clearly, the game plan was never to serve the best interests of the masses of the colony, but to use the colony and its masses to serve the narrow, greedy interests of the select few in England, the sugar-land owners in St. Kitts, and, by way of strategic convenience in a partnership of pillage and plunder, a handful of local leaders and followers who were driven by selfish ambition and greed, and who were more than willing to sell their people and their patrimony for thirty pieces of silver, and for their ‘forty acres and a mule’.
England set out to embed in the psyches of the masses of this country, this mantra:
“Call me Mother England. Be loyal and be grateful to me, demonstrate the utmost respect for me, and full confidence in me. Whoever are telling you that I control your lands, plunder your sugar cane industry and your island’s resources and that I mock, marginalize, insult, abuse, oppress and dehumanize you, are lying to you. They want to take away all that you have, and to destabilize your safety and security. Depend on good old Mother England. She will do the thinking for you, she will concern herself with the heavy burden of leading you. Go to church, drink your rum, and jump up to your music. And leave the rest to me. Vent your anger on the football and cricket fields, and even on each other, but not on Mother England”.
‘Mother England’ used every trick in the book to suppress, brainwash and control the masses and keep them landless, disenfranchised and disempowered, and kept her vice grip on the masses for as long as she could, releasing in bits and pieces, and only after sufficient pressure had been exerted, in one way or another.
Finally, in St. Kitts, her surrogates, the owners of the sugar lands, saw no more opportunity for them to exploit and profiteer, and they would’ve been relieved when the Government of the day moved in 1975 to acquire the lands on behalf of the people.
You have to give it to the English though. For a country the size of Guyana, they incredibly and ruthlessly mastered the game of world domination, and did so with a combination of bare and institutionalized brutality and skillful and callous mind-bending.
The tragedy of it, though, is that their method has become the template for governance by leaders in these same former colonies (and elsewhere)who are afraid of democracy and enlightenment for the masses, and who, like their English mentors and role models, also perceive the masses as “half-devil, half-child”, and even worse, as short-memoried, superficial, gullible chattel property.
Like in St. Kitts where a leader tells a citizen that he would sell him next; or that he, the leader, “bad since I born”; or “ I incite already and I’m capable of inciting, you know”; or calls parliamentarians hogs (and does so in parliament); or says publicly that he will not call an election until he’s sure that his candidates can win; or he says “national debt, me ass” ; or exposes the National Bank to a $50 million haircut and possible further loss, the Social Security Board to a $30 million haircut and further loss, and even Brimstone Hill Fortress Society and local churches to haircuts; or he dismisses people‘s concern that 12% of the land mass of St. Kitts is mortgaged to the Bank and stubbornly refuses to use SIDF money to save the people’s land for them and to stabilize and sustain and truly empower the people, but instead chooses to reverse history, and join hands with foreign oppressors and mind benders to keep, himself in the ascendancy and the people on their knees in degradation and dependency.
St. Kitts has a leader who is also in a partnership of pillage and plunder with opportunistic and mind-bending friends from England, Switzerland and elsewhere, and who has bred a culture of greed, selfishness, callous opportunism, and mass degradation. And people like Joseph Edmeade, Halva Hendrickson, Edmund Lawrence, Wendell Lawrence, Linkon Maynard, Mitchell Gumbs, Asim Martin, Marcella Liburd, Rodney ‘Lawyer’ Williams, Astona Browne, Ricky Skerritt, Nigel Carty, Vance Gilbert, Terrence Drew and Konris Maynard, and others, are promoters and beneficiaries of that culture.
Like Mother England did in times past, Douglas tells the masses that he is their redeemer, that they must be loyal to him and have full confidence in him and sing songs of praise and gratitude to him, and that anyone else is nothing but a power-hungry traitor, as his expensive mind-bending friends from England, whom he recommends to any Prime Minister wanting to remain in office, give him slogans like “It’s Working”, “YES”, “PEP’, and “Springtime” , and who “orchestrate the behavioral change” in the people of St. Kitts that is “required to win an election…”, using hysterical appeals to the emotions, rather than trying to appeal to people’s sense of reason.
Douglas has taken us back. The few are getting richer, as Douglas and his foreign friends and his handful of local satellites seek to hold on to power and privilege, and the masses are being used, confused and abused.
We are still a colony.
Only, we can end his colonial rule.