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Honouring the memory of our ancestors

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Tue June 4, 2013

Editor: World changing events were occurring on four continents during the 19th century in the brutal sugar cane plantations of the Caribbean.{{more}}

Throughout the “British Empire,” it was thought that slavery was abolished in 1833, but the plantation owners would not have it. So, “indenture” (contract – binding the worker to his employer) was in effect a different kind of slavery and was even worse in many, if not all, cases.

Throughout the empire, the plantation owner, for whatever reason, but especially as the European capitalist, not used to paying out money for slave labour, and the fact that the Indians were contracted by a bond that they could not read, but had signed to and thus were “tied” to his estate, withheld their wages from time to time. The wretched labourers could die from starvation, as the employer, according to the contract, did not have to feed them. However, they were allowed to cultivate a small plot of unused or useless land in their “spare time”. But that was after getting back after sunset (invariably, before sunrise they were already in the fields) to their huts and barracks, where they had very little or no amenities. Pictures showed them as dejected skeletons that were covered only by their skin and worn out rags, with no observable muscles.

The trials and tribulations of both the resilient slaves from Africa and the unsuspecting indentured “servants” from India who were sold on the golden dreams of “Eldorado”, found themselves on a slave ship leading to misery and hard labour. They both faced the perils at the hands of the British plantation owners who spurred and fueled enmity and hatred between two exploited peoples.

This unforgettable period is cogently revealed in the Rohit Jagessar’s film “GUIANA 1838”.

“The Docu-Drama sold out virtually every screening since it premiered and broke US box office records in the process.” Hollywood Reporter, June, 2007.

Every Caribbean person should see this movie. Like it or not, IT IS OUR LEGACY.

Elmore Gaymes

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