Almost every year when Indian Arrival Day comes around we are sure to see another idiot, always an Indian, saying we shouldn’t celebrate it. That indentureship system was just like slavery the dummy will say, a sad time, a bad time, and we should really celebrate the abolition of the indentureship system on January 1, 1917, instead.
And every year the idiot gets his little pitch on one of the newspapers or broadcast stations. Nobody takes him on. IAD goes on as usual and nobody bothers about the end of indentureship. This has been going on for 41 years now since Dr. Brinsley Samaroo started it in 1979.
This year we have had the usual Indian idiot attack on IAD and promotion of the end of indentureship, made by one Raj Maharaj on Facebook.
I will give my response to this individual as a little primer to handle this nonsense when it comes up. Raj’s line was that Trinidadian Indians are the only people who celebrate slavery, we should be commemorating the end of indentureship instead of Indian arrival to slavery. There were few differences between slavery and indentureship. The colonials fooled Indians into indentureship just as the Africans into slavery.
I say this is complete nonsense, especially his comment that there was little difference between Indian indentureship and slavery. There were in fact major differences.
The African slaves were taken against their will, they were slaves for life with no rights, they were property just like the mules, they had no money and could earn no money, they could be beaten or killed or sold at will by the masters, they were not allowed to have families, to practice their African religion or their culture.
The Indians on the other hand came off their own free will, they worked for only five years, they had a contract that spelled out their salary and conditions of work, they could have their families and carry on their Indian culture and religions.
It’s a world of difference with slavery. Now it is true that some of the Indians were fooled into signing up, and the terms of the contract were often breached but that did not make it like slavery.
Indians today in Trinidad and elsewhere have ignored the end of indentureship because it was the closure of a bad system a long time ago, which means little or nothing to us today and neither to the jahajis at the time.
Indian Arrival Day on the other hand is like our birthday, the birthday of all of us Indians, and the coming of our people and heritage to Trinidad and other countries.
Who doesn’t want to celebrate his birthday? Who cares if things were tough in your family when you were born?