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Come on Dr Fraser, give jack his jacket

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Dec.15.06

EDITOR: In the Caribbean we have a saying “give Jack his jacket”, in other words give a man his due. It was therefore rather unfortunate to see the headline for Dr Adrian Fraser’s column in the Searchlight newspaper of Friday, December 8, 2006 “Blair kicks off debate on slavery” and even more unfortunate to read the column and realise no where in it does he mention the role that our Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has played in getting the debate started.

The headline and the content of the column are clear examples of intellectual dishonesty by Dr Fraser. One would not want to believe that Dr Fraser has such disdain for Dr Gonsalves that he would not give him credit for getting the debate started with his address to the 61st Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 21st, 2006. {{more}}In that address Dr Gonsalves called on “European nations and their North American cousins” to address the issues of an apology and reparations to the affected nations and peoples in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas, for the evils of the slave trade and slavery.

It was following Dr Gonsalves’ address that the British Deputy

Prime Minister John Prescott spoke to the BBC about the British government’s response, this of course was also followed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s statement of “regret” about slavery.

This is not about making a mountain out of a mole hill or trying to “big up” Dr Gonsalves, it’s a matter of honesty. If Dr Fraser is to be charged with writing the history of this country one would not want to think that his political bias and dislike for the Prime Minister would cause him to ignore his role in our history.

It was also unfortunate that further to ignoring Dr Gonsalves’ role in “kicking off” the debate on slavery Dr Fraser also ignores totally the role played by this country’s Ambassador to the United Nations Margaret Hughes-Ferrari who spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on the Agenda Item 155 “Commemoration of the Two-Hundredth anniversary of the Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade” at the 61st Session of the General Assembly November 28, 2006.

Come on Dr Fraser, your readers demand more of you, as a

historian you must break from the tradition of historians of the past who only wrote from their perspective.

Facts are facts. Dr Gonsalves and this country have played a role in getting the debate on slavery started; acknowledge that. Give Jack his jacket.

Hans King

Press Secretary

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