Tag Archives: colonialism

WORLD: Ukraine is the hapless proxy victim of Russia-NATO geopolitical rivalry – By Mohamed Hamaludin


Nothing can justify the loss of lives, injuries and destruction of property and infrastructure which Russia is inflicting on Ukraine. It is difficult to grasp the fact that this mighty army can be wreaking such havoc and forcing millions to flee to neighboring countries just because it can. And there is not much other nations can do to retaliate in support of Ukraine, apart from imposing economic sanctions against the aggressor, because Russia is already rattling its nuclear saber.

Russia’s autocratic leader Vladimir Putin does not care about world opinion and the toll which the sanctions are taking on his country’s economy. He is obviously driven by geopolitics, the primary determinant for relations among nations going back to at least the invasion and occupation of small states by powerful ones sometimes thousands of miles away during the days of “colonialism.”

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OPINION: Why can’t Britain handle the truth about Winston Churchill?

– The Guardian. UK.Wed 17 Mar 2021 11.00 GMT

Nothing, it seems, can be allowed to tarnish the national myth – as I found when hosting a Cambridge debate about his murkier side

Winston Churchill speaking at Wolverhampton football field in 1949
Winston Churchill speaking at Wolverhampton football field in 1949. Photograph: Mark Kauffman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
A baleful silence attends one of the most talked-about figures in British history. You may enthuse endlessly about Winston Churchill “single-handedly” defeating Hitler. But mention his views on race or his colonial policies, and you’ll be instantly drowned in ferocious and orchestrated vitriol.             

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Cricket: Deryck Murray: Worrell Gave Blueprint to Beat England – Sherdon Pierre | Newsday

Deryck Murray: Worrell Gave Blueprint to Beat England

Sherdon Pierre | Newsday – Trinidad

“If you wanted to be considered equal to the English cricket team, you had to be twice as good – not only on the field but twice as good off the field.”

Deryck Murray yesterday recalled the words of cricket legend and West Indies’ first black captain Sir Frank Worrell when they first met. Murray was speaking at History Fest 2019 held at the Alma Jordan Library, University of West Indies, St. Augustine.

The topic of discussion was experiences of cricket, colonialism and nationalism.         Continue reading

Cheddi Jagan’s Contribution to Guyana’s Independence – By Ralph Ramkarran


Ralph Ramkarran

Ralph Ramkarran

Inspired by events that were occurring in the wider world and influenced by progressive views while he was a student in the United States, Dr. Cheddi Jagan returned to Guyana in 1943, then British Guiana, intent on becoming politically involved on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged. He chose the trade union movement as an entrance point. Ashton Chase and Jocelyn Hubbard, both trade unionists, were sought out to join with him and Janet Jagan to form the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) on November 6, 1946, as a study and discussion group.

Branches emerged in various places including Kitty, Buxton and Enmore. My father, Boysie Ramkarran, joined the Kitty Group in 1947. Ashton Chase, at the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the PAC said that my father was the Secretary of that group. Eusi Kwayana was active in the Buxton group.   Continue reading

Race, ethnic politics and police violence in Guyana – By David Hinds

Commentary: Race, ethnic politics and police violence in Guyana
Published on March 25, 2014 – By Dr David Hinds
There is major concern over police brutality against African Guyanese since the current executive government came to power. African Guyanese activists have pointed to over 400 African Guyanese, mostly young men, who have died at the hands of the police since 1992. There are strong claims that there was direct state involvement in some of these killings during the period 2002-2006. The recent Colwyn Harding incident has raised these concerns anew. Many have joined the debate. There have been some very useful contributions. The police force has correctly come under severe criticisms. But, sadly, what is missing from the debate is how police brutality is a reflection of our larger ethno-racial problem. Of all the public commentators, only Henry Jeffery and Freddy Kissoon have dared to go there.

Dr David Hinds is a political activist and commentator. He is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. 

And yes, we have had and will continue to have an ethno-racial problem. I use the term ethno-racial to mean ethnic groups that relate to each other through the lens of race. To get a proper sense of what we are talking about, a brief history and explanation of race is needed. We often talk about race in Guyana as if it is figment of people’s imagination — false consciousness. But it is not; it is real. Race as biology has been proven to be unreal. But race as social, political, economic and cultural practice is real.

The concept of race was first developed in the USA in the late 1600s as a justification for the rise of plantation slavery. It gave social meaning to skin colour. Blackness came to mean less than human, while whiteness came to mean fully human. The German philosopher, Hegel, said to be human is to be white. Thomas Jefferson would later remark that blacks were inferior in body and mind and do not feel life’s pains as other groups. Other white thinkers concluded that black people could not exist in a state of freedom. Hence it would be dangerous to free them from slavery.Blackness became synonymous with, among other things, backwardness, indolence, shallowness, unreason and laziness. This characterization of blackness as inferior — the white racial frame — found its way into laws and socio-economic and political policies. Over time such laws and polices inevitably begun to shape people’s consciousness about blackness and, by extension, whiteness.

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Why So Much Anarchy? – By Robert D. Kaplan – commentary

Why So Much Anarchy?

Ukraine protests -2014

Ukraine protests -2014

By Robert D. Kaplan  – STRATFOR

Twenty years ago, in February 1994, I published a lengthy cover story in The Atlantic Monthly, “The Coming Anarchy: How Scarcity, Crime, Overpopulation, Tribalism, and Disease are Rapidly Destroying the Social Fabric of Our Planet.”

I argued that the combination of resource depletion (like water), demographic youth bulges and the proliferation of shanty towns throughout the developing world would enflame ethnic and sectarian divides, creating the conditions for domestic political breakdown and the transformation of war into increasingly irregular forms — making it often indistinguishable from terrorism.   Continue reading

How Benedict Cumberbatch’s family made a fortune from slavery

How Benedict Cumberbatch’s family made a fortune from slavery

By Guy Adams – Published 31 January 2014

Benedict is currently treading red carpets in support of the Oscar campaign for 12 Years A Slave, the harrowing hit film which depicts the ugly reality of the slave trade(picture of Benedict Cumberbatch in movie: ’12 years a Slave’) 

High above Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, is a range of hills known locally as the ‘Scotland District’ on account of its uncanny resemblance to the Highlands.

Here, roughly 45 minutes’ drive along a Tarmac road and then a dusty track, past endless acres of sugar cane swaying gently in the breeze, is a weather-beaten white stone archway announcing that you have arrived at the Cleland Plantation.

The owner, 66-year-old Stephen Tempro, has lived here since 1985, eking out a modest living from the small herds of cattle and goats that graze his 150-odd acres, along with a smattering of small fruit and vegetable plots.   Continue reading

WHO ARE WE ? – By Hubert Williams

WHO  ARE  WE ? – By Hubert Williams

By de Gaulle’s ire, mere mounds of dust
Molded by coralstone and pyroclastic flows
But these lovely islands of the sun Indies
Should not be judged merely by what is seen
Though tiny objects rebuffing waves
Within and below they link great continents
From north to south this natural chain extends
Creating a people’s bridge from centuries past
All shades traversed from the globe’s four points
Converging and merging their unique traits
Into vibrant new nations on the world stage
Hibiscus, croton, oleander, bougainvillea
They gloriously reflect our people’s hues
With no shade superior, and none suborned
Colourful identity, that’s bolstered with pride
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Caribbean People – Who are we?

Who are we?


The Caribbean is the ‘home of hybridity’ but this legacy does not necessarily underpin our regional culture and identity. Much Caribbean culture, particularly our youth culture, is now largely derivative of American culture, not, it should be noted, the nitty-gritty complexity and variety of American daily life but the airbrushed sanitised model portrayed on our TV screens. Five years ago, a Caricom Commission on Youth Development noted that many young people in the Caribbean identified more readily with North American culture than their own and indicated no wish to remain in the Caribbean or to identify with things Caribbean.  

The recently concluded Caribbean Festival of Arts (Carifesta) offered glimpses of a few tantalising prospects as to what the peculiarly Caribbean brew of ethnicities might produce in terms of a regional identity and culture. At home, a year in which we have commemorated the arrival of indentured Indians and the emancipation of African slaves has also thrown up questions about some fundamental aspects of our national identity: Who are we? How should we live together? What can we become?

These questions hover somewhat precariously over us as much of our creative energy is sapped by the demands of daily life, of negotiating an antiquated and over-burdened infrastructure. They echo in the increasing visibility and volubility of local groups that accentuate their African or Indian heritage. Questions of national identity are however but a faint squeak amidst the roar of our physical and spiritual stampede to North America. The ‘Americanisation’ of Guyanese life is manifest in myriad ways from our preferred destinations for travel or migration to the gadgets we acquire.

Two or three generations ago, Guyanese framed their identity largely in terms of British cultural references. Old family photos often show our forebears improbably dressed in suits and bowler hats.  Bright youngsters of that era focused their energies on a mastery of ‘the classics’ in imitation of their colonial masters and shunned occupations such as trade and engineering in favour of the more ‘respectable’ professions in medicine, the law and education. Our theatre, our dancehalls, our education, our social values and attitudes were all, in some measure, derivative of British culture. The tentacles of colonialism can be found even in our love of cricket.

Many British colonies emerged from the ‘shackles’ of the colonial era to discover that it was equally hard to resist the lure of American cultural products. In 1959, for example, the ten most popular programmes on Australian TV were all American. They included Perry Mason, The Flintstones and I Love Lucy, shows that will strike a chord with early devotees of TV stations here in the 1980s. The wartime posting of American soldiers to the colonies, with their strong consumer ethic and enhanced buying power, simply fuelled the fantasies spread by American cinema and music (and later TV). At the time, Sparrow mocked his fellow West Indians for being in thrall to ‘the Yankee dollar,’

Faced with this deluge of American culture, some countries (in the 1960s) would impose a local content quota and take clearly defined steps to protect their nascent cultural industries (film, TV, publishing, even the manufacture of local food and clothing) from being swamped by American products. In this new ‘soft war’, cultural influences seeped across the airwaves rather than the seas. Nor has this phenomenon abated. A few years ago, Wikileaks released a confidential US government cable suggesting that American television shows broadcast across the Middle East are highly effective “agents of influence,” As one news outlet reported: “ABC’s ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘World News with Diane Sawyer’… and NBC’s sitcom ‘Friends,’ all carry more sway with [Muslim] viewers than a US taxpayer-funded Middle East broadcast network, an unnamed Saudi source told US embassy officials.”

The relatively late arrival of American TV shows on Guyanese TV screens is particularly significant in the ‘culture wars,’ First, some of our current preoccupations (with an American-style car culture, American-style fast food and an American-style ‘gangsta’ culture) suggest strongly that we are stuck in a time warp framed by certain staple American cultural products. Ironically, some cultural exports, particularly the dominance of a car culture, are actually in abeyance in large parts of America now. In other words, we are still subject to American cultural trends that are rapidly losing traction in America!

Second, the dominance of American content on local television stations has meant that representations of an (often idealised) American way of life have become much more familiar to us and have greater currency in our culture than representations of local characters and communities. Not surprisingly, our identity and social aspirations have taken on a decidedly American tinge. At about the time that American TV shows began to mesmerise local audiences in the 1980s, The Tradewinds teased us that if you “put a West Indian in New York City, overnight he become Yankee.”

Third, we continue to consume much of what comes from America uncritically while deriding much of what is produced locally (for example, local ‘man-in-the-street’ interviews on TV). All of these, theirs and ours, are cultural products. The American shows are sophisticated cultural products underpinned by well-oiled and well-funded production, marketing and distribution networks (the full force of American capitalism). Ours conspicuously lack these advantages but have, perhaps, greater cultural integrity and should be nurtured and refined so that they can compete meaningfully with the imports.

In the last thirty years, mass migration from Guyana to the new Meccas (Miami and New York) has occurred in tandem with the introduction of (largely pirated) American TV to Guyana. One day social scientists will record and assess the dual impact of these influences on Guyanese identity. Certainly it requires no great insight (a short walk along the streets of Georgetown would suffice) to see the effect of several decades’ exposure to American popular culture. It is apparent in the ways we spend our money, the ways we entertain ourselves, the ways we dress and the ways we socialise. We measure our treats now in pizzas and burgers and hanker after a new pair of jeans (preferably worn ‘sagging’ at half-mast) or the latest sneakers. We are brand aware. But the brands are not our own. In fact, most of the cultural markers are not our own. We have imported them, wholesale, from the North.

A handful of academics have constructed theories and tools to analyse these phenomena and in some cases, to pursue a specific agenda. Edward W Saïd revolutionised the field of post-colonial studies with his critique of ‘Orientalism,’ a practice where the cultural assumptions of the West are used to construct “caricatures” of Muslims and Arabs in the media who “are essentially seen as either oil suppliers or potential terrorists.” Benedict Anderson developed the concept of nations as “imagined communities,” a collective imagining made possible in the early stages by “print capitalism” and latterly by the proliferation of newspapers, films, TV shows so that “regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship.” Other writers have fused or inverted these theories to create “imagined geographies,” instances where regions or countries are depicted in a certain way for specific ends. In one instance of this, a decade ago, a Harvard historian, Samuel Huntington published a book called Who are We? in which he attempted, somewhat controversially, to reposition America as an “English colony” and not the product of “a nation of immigrants.” Huntington argued that American identity derived largely from the Protestant settlers who arrived in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: “the American Creed is the unique creation of a dissenting Protestant culture.” Huntington identified Mexican immigration and the ‘Hispanization’ of chunks of the country as the greatest ‘challenge’ to America and raised concerns that this could lead to a ‘bifurcated’ America.

Writing about the Caribbean region a few years ago, David Granger noted that the “most visible characteristic” is the diversity of ethnicity and that “most Caribbean people today are of mixed blood,” Given this, we should be wary of framing our heritage entirely in terms of African and Indian influences and the experiences of our African and Indian forebears. What of the influence of the indigenous Amerindian cultures and the Portuguese, Chinese and other settlers? What of the recent influx of thousands of Brazilians and the influence of their food, music, language and consumption patterns? Edward Saïd issued a clarion call to embrace and depict our “human density” and not subscribe to stereotypes. Stuart Hall, a Jamaican cultural analyst, wrote that meanings are shaped and structured by “those who wish to govern and regulate the conduct and ideas of others,” Our frames of reference are important. The ways we depict our culture should emerge from and take full cognisance of the peculiar complexities of our situation rather than simply importing frames of reference devised for other cultures and other agendas.

For many younger Guyanese ‘of mixed blood,’ our African and Indian heritage are points of interest, not points of identity. This does not make them less Guyanese. It makes them, perhaps, more complex. We should avoid the temptation to perpetually Balkanise our history and our heritage. This is not to deny or detract from the value of the work, art, music and scholarship that has emerged from a close examination, appreciation and conceptualisation of the experiences of African slaves and Indian indentured labourers in the history of our nation. These two dominant influences should not be allowed to overwhelm our identity or diminish its complexity.

CARICOM at 40: The power of colonialism – Freddie Kissoon

CARICOM at 40: The power of colonialism


Do the leaders and peoples of the Caricom want integration?

The birth of a dream to make the English-speaking West Indian islands and Guyana into an integrated region is forty years old this month. Its current manifestation is the formation named Caricom. One house separates my home from the Caricom Secretariat. My bedroom window overlooks the Secretariat.

My study window also overlooks the Secretariat. Every day and every night, millions of times, my eyes gaze onto the Caricom Secretariat. There is no coruscation from the Caricom structure in the evening because they turn off all the lights to save money.   Continue reading

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