US Professor is engaging in half-truths, lies and innuendoes
Photo : Professor Theodore Lewis
Half-truths, lies and innuendoes! This is where the Express Newspaper under the editorship of Ms Omatie Lyder is heading. Ms Lyder is not doing anything to promote truths but is using a former teacher of wood work at St Augustine Senior Secondary School- now a Professor at Minnesota University-to peddle half-truths, lies and innuendoes. I am not surprised. I know that this has been the culture of our society but to be perpetuated by a professor at a university of the United States of America is most damning to say the least. Is this scholarship the best that the University of Minnesota has to offer the people of Trinidad and Tobago?
I do not have time to forage the entire heap of garbage that Professor Lewis has dumped on his readers- (Express on Tuesday August 15th, 2017 –Kamal Trivialising History.) However, I wish to focus on his ingratitude to the Church and the missionaries who have worked their lives out in struggle to improve the social and economic conditions of the Africans.
No sane person can ignore the contribution of the Church to the improvement of the social conditions of the Africans. The Quakers identified with the sufferings of the slaves and were among the first to liberate them. Many Quakers were persecuted, fined and jailed for assisting the slaves.
Every student of history would recall the struggle of Granville Sharp who took to court the right of James Somerset to live a free man in England. The ruling of Chief Justice Lord Mansfield that the English laws do not allow a master to use force on a slave was a landmark ruling.
In addition to the Quakers, the Baptists, the Methodists and the Evangelical movement with personalities such as Thomas Clarkson, Thomas Buxton and William Wilberforce led the struggle for the abolition of slavery. These men toiled inside and outside of Parliament to bring to an end the evils of the slave system.
Most of the free villages in Jamaica were pioneered by missionaries. Two Baptist missionaries-James Phillips and William Knibb-raised moneys from their parent church in England and purchased lands which they subdivided and sold to the Africans. Many of these villages were named after the abolitionists – Clarksonville, Wilberforce and Buxton. At least the ex-slaves were thankful for the good that the Church had done for them; not Professor Lewis!
Professor Lewis’s culture of ingratitude is extended to the field of education. He wrote: “The Christian churches were here as extensions of the imperial state… and that Codrington Estate in Barbados was owned and run by the Church of England.” No one can deny that there were excesses in the system but any fair minded person must strive to present a balance sheet.
The initial attempts to educate ex-slaves were funded by the Negro Education Grant and the Lady Mico Trust. Both grants were directed to assist with providing an education for the former slaves of the West Indies. The Roman Catholic Church also established schools throughout the colony of Trinidad. This was followed by the Anglican. We cannot ignore the pioneering effort of the Presbyterian (Canadian Mission) among the Indians. Unlike Professor Lewis, most of the elderly Indians who had their education in a Presbyterian school always express gratitude. Coming from a civilization where they don’t wish to be called nemakharams, the Indians understand well the value of gratitude.
Professor Lewis’s response to Mr Kamal Persad was no response. The headline “Kamal trivialising history” was misleading because the content of Professor Lewis’s response did not provide any evidence of Kamal Persad trivialising history. And this is where Professor Lewis stops and Omatie Lyder begins. What axe does Ms Lyder have to grind to engage in a conspiracy to mislead her readers? She should stop using the “half-truths, lies and innuendoes” of Professor Lewis to fight her battle. In fact she should fire him and hire Kamal Persad who (like him or hate him) does not write off his head like Professor Lewis. Is this the kind of scholarship that Ms Lyder is promoting through her Express Newspaper?