General elections are rapidly approaching in Trinidad and any time now we can expect to hear the jungle drums sounding the same old lies. African slaves built Trinidad in chains and suffered greatly, so their descendants deserve to rule now that massa day is done and the white man gone.
Black people in Trinidad treasure this fantasy as if it’s gospel, and their brethren in Guyana too. The subtitle is that Indians who came later, didn’t build anything like the slaves and suffered less, should not have political power or any kind of power for that matter.
It’s really embarrassing to have to deal with such nonsense 182 years after slavery ended in 1838. But such a fantasy like slaves built Trinidad can have great power in certain quarters today in 2020.
If by building Trinidad it’s meant building the ports, the towns, the roads, the railways, the estate houses and sugar factories and initially preparing the sugar cane, cocoa and other estates for cultivation, then clearly slaves did not do that.
Why then were slaves brought to Trinidad by the Spanish, French or British? They came as unskilled labour to plant, tend and reap agricultural crops on already established estates and to do other tasks related to the estates, in a colony with infrastructure already in place.
I emphasize, African slaves did not come to build anything and were not used as builders for the estates or the infrastructure. They were slaves taken from Africa or born in slavery in other colonies, remember. They had no building or construction skills like carpentry, masonry, road construction, building sugar factories, railways, houses, boats, piers, furniture, no clerical, architectural, cooking, medical, dental, legal, gardening or any kind of skill useful in building an estate colony.
They were taken and put into already constructed slave homes, put to work planting, weeding, cutting cane, some of them working in the great houses as servants, some working the carts and punts, some working in the sugar factories later, some in maintenance of the estates. They had to be taught everything and their work entailed only the simplest skill level in most cases.
Ergo, slaves didn’t build a damn thing.
They may have helped expand the existing structure they found, and later learned to do some maintenance, but great builders they were not.
That is a fantasy black people have been peddling for years that their ancestors built Guyana and Trinidad and Suriname and we Indians are some kind of Johnny come lately interlopers who should play second banana to them.
Truth is that we Indians built the network of rural towns and villages in these southern Caribbean and South American nations, with our own sweat and toil, with no help from anybody.
When we came the colonies were no more than a few ports and small towns joined by road and rail to many estates out in the country areas. Other than that, there was nothing.
Under slavery the slaves spent their whole lives on the estates, except for a tiny few who escaped and lived in the forests as maroons or bush negroes. After slavery ended 1838 and the ex slaves left the estates, they mostly went to the towns to beg for crumbs.
When Indians came from 1838 in Guyana and 1845 in Trinidad the colonies were essentially empty except for the few towns and estates. We Indians built all the rest that you see now. Pretty much all of rural Trinidad development is our doing.
Where does this leave the descendants of those African slaves? Out in the rain with their “black man turn to rule”, I believe.
And what about “black people suffer more than Indians, black people get nothing after slavery end but Indians get free land when indenture end, black people lose we culture but Indian get to keep their culture”?
The proper reply is that we Indians didn’t do anything to the slaves, we weren’t even in the country, so why should we take the rap for problems created by long departed white estate owners?
Descendants of the slaves have to build something better that this slave builders’ delusion for the coming election and forever after.