It is becoming an ugly habit of former colonial people to blame the west for their woes. Such a trend is catching up like the Covid 19 and would have to be checked. If left unattended it can wreak psychological havoc on groups, communities and nations – if not already.
I am not at all denying the wrongs done through slavery, indenture, colonialism and imperialism and agreed that we should always be mindful of the past so that such bitter experiences would not be repeated. Unfortunately, I am noticing a penchant by colonial people to fix their eyes on the rearview mirror without bothering to look ahead. Maybe this explains why so many third-world countries continue to be backward, living in the stone age without the basic amenities.
Shashi Tharoor speaks with glee about the wrongs of the British Raj. While that is good it would be nice for him to do an assessment of his Indian National Congress governments that have ruled the greater part of independent India since 1947. Just as Tharoor took the liberty to underline the ills of British rule in India -An Era of Darkness- so also he should do a balance sheet on the performance of the governments of India.
Tharoor is only too happy to remind us of the Jalianwallah Bagh Massacre and the Bengal Famines and the so many atrocities but has failed to tell us about the underdevelopment of rural India. Now that the pandemic had brought before the world for all to see the neglect of 60% of the population that lives in rural India, Indians have no excuses but to shut up and bend down their heads in shame.
This trend to blame the colonial past is much accentuated by Blacks not just in the Caribbean but all over the world. The latest move is to condemn the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte (not Napoleon Robinson) now that the French people are gearing to celebrating the 200th death anniversary of this leader. Much is being said about Napoleon sending troops to defeat the slave rebellion in Saint Domingue and the defeat of the combined European resistance. (See: Was Napoleon Bonaparte an enlightened leader or tyrant? By Jacqueline Charles.)
Nothing is said about the leadership of Haiti after the expulsion of the European- dictators and the failure to develop the country. The mulattos that rule the country act as European proxies and continued where the French have left. This, however, is never highlighted by the Black activists. They suffer a lacuna where these atrocities committed by Blacks are concerned. Nothing is said about Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier and the Tonton Macoute, a paramilitary force under the direct command of the Duvaliers, that silenced all opposition to their misrule.
In the Caribbean, Blacks are silent on poor management of the country by Black rulers. The reign of the PNC in Guyana (1964-92) is an era of discrimination, racism and the murder of democracy. Many opposed to the dictatorship of Forbes Burnham were killed including Dr. Walter Rodney, a world-renown historian. Today more than 800,000 Guyanese live outside the country and none are willing to return despite the talk of an oil boom. They are scared of the social and political volatility of the country.
The refusal of the Granger Government to vacate office after its defeat in 2020 was most disgraceful. Many thought that such attitude was behind the backs of Guyanese. Worse, is that Black intellectuals and leaders across the world were only too happy to support this political misadventure. It is clearly an unwillingness to look within the community.
While much is said about Black Lives Matter, the Caribbean has imported this American social phenomenon to talk about ‘black lives matter,’ they hold the reins of power. In Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana, the military, police and public service continue to be the forte of Blacks and despite this, they are always ready to charge that Indians are racists toward them.
Could you imagine that The University of the West Indies is lobbying for reparation for slavery but has left out indentureship? When it was brought to the attention, the leaders said that slavery is different from indentureship. Oppression in the Caribbean is Black only; the decimation of the indigenous population is ignored. Though of the First People survive in Trinidad and Tobago, there is a greater number in Guyana. Couldn’t The UWI include the First People in the lobby for reparation?
I do hope that Guyanese and Surinamese who have fled the dictatorship of Forbes Burnham and Desi Bouterse would have the courage to bring these governments before the International Court of Justice to establish that crimes against humanity were committed and their descendants have the right to some form of redress and apologies.
I hope that Indians who fled Uganda under Idi Amin would also go to the International Court of Justice seeking compensation for their loss of earning and the ensuing difficulties they had to endure to start all over again in a foreign land.
Let us not become fixated on the past but look in front to meet the challenges ahead. There are too many contemporary matters to address if we desire equity and equal opportunity for all. Let us wake up to the rising sun and embrace our responsibilities to build a brighter future.