BURYING THE IRISH MYTH

THE PAN-AFRIKAN LIBERATOR

Agitate until we create a stable society that benefits all our people.

Instigate the nation until we remedy the injustices of society.

Motivate our people to set a meaningful path for the coming generations.

Educate our people to free our minds and develop an Africentric consciousness.

VOL. 1 NO.11    $1.00    Monthly Newsletter of KiMiT     JUNE 1993

THE VOICE FOR AN INDEPENDENT MONTSERRAT

Published by Chedmond Browne, P.O. Box 197, Plymouth, Montserrat


BURYING THE IRISH MYTH

by Mwongozi Shujaa C. Browne

In 1632, the island of Montserrat was settled by English, Anglo-Irish and Irish dissidents. The dissidents were deported from St. Kitts because the English settlers there did not trust them. By 1648 Montserrat's population was said to be about 750.

In 1649, Oliver Cromwell defeated the Irish at the Battle of Drogheda and many Irish political prisoners were exiled to the Leewards. The population of Montserrat was estimated to rise to 1,200.

In 1665, England and Holland (the 2nd Dutch War 1665-1667) went to war for control of the trade in kidnapping, transporting and selling of Afrikans.

France allied itself with the Dutch and the Leewards became one of the main battle arenas.

In February 1667, the population of Montserrat was estimated to be 3,250. The composition was said to be 2,000 Irish farmers, 650 kidnapped Afrikans being held as slaves and 600 English landholders.

The French attacked Montserrat and with the help of the Irish put the English militia to a crushing defeat.

The French seized everything that they could. This included provisions, animals, war materials, prisoners of war and Afrikans.

Provisions and materials were sent to St.Kitts. Prisoners were sent to Jamaica. The Irish, who had aided the French stayed on the island.

In July 1667, the English defeated the French and Dutch navies off the coast of Nevis and the signing of the Treaty of Breda returned Montserrat to the English.

All French and Irish rebels on the island were captured and sent to Nevis as prisoners of war. The following year a devastating hurricane hit the island of Montserrat and further destroyed and depopulated the island.

All that had been accomplished in the early years had come to an end.

This ends the first phase of European occupation of Montserrat. According to available statistics there were only 650 Afrikans on the island at that time.

During their occupation of Montserrat, the French seized as many of these 650 as they could lay their hands on and transported them to St. Christopher and Jamaica.

On their re-occupation of Montserrat, the British took the Irish population and deported them to Nevis.

The records clearly show that the society was already structured: English landholders at the top, Irish farmers in the middle, and Afrikans held as slaves on the bottom.

Present-day reality shows that this structure did not and does not allow easy passage up or down.

From this point in time, the history of Montserrat is that of the English landholders and their attempts to make Montserrat profitable for themselves by using a combination of Afrikans, whom they held captive on their plantations to use for free labour, and free peasants of Anglo, Anglo-Irish and Irish backgrounds.

The Irish dissidents were continually being transported from island to island as the wars dictated.

What should be noted here is that no matter the classification of the european, they had freedom of movement, freedom of choice, and a position in the social structure that placed them above the Afrikan.

The Afrikan was considered to be property and as such a possession of whoever held them captive.

From 1670-1680, the English and the Dutch fought another war to see who would control what had now become the most lucrative item of trade: the Afrikan.

By 1678, the English began to dominate and by 1680 they controlled and monopolized the transportation and sale of Afrikans.

By 1671, Montserrat had begun its re- building process and the estimated population at that time was said to be 1,175 Englishmen and 523 captive Afrikans.

By 1678, the European population in Montserrat had reached its peak and from that point started once again to steadily decrease.

It should be noted that this decrease continued for the next 300 years, right into the 1990s.

Hurricanes, Carib raids, French and Dutch military invasions all made stable life a dream for the settlers. In addition, the island's terrain made agriculture an unsure venture for the landholders and small farmers.

A census taken by the governor in 1678 states that the population was made up of 2,682 Europeans and 992 Afrikans.

For the next thirty years life in the entire region became violatile and unstable. The French were making their bid for control of the region and its lucrative trade in people.

With the increase in raiding and instability in the island, the small landholders started to sell out their holdings and leave the island.

In 1707, England became Great Britain and Montserrat became a british colony. In 1708 the census shows 3,570 Afrikans and 1,545 europeans on the island.

Here it can be plainly seen that the Afrikan had no voice and no choice in becoming a possession of britain. They did, however, make up 70% of the population.

The small european farmers, having the freedom to seek better conditions, were selling their holdings and leaving freely.

The Afrikan, having no choice or say in their condition, were being brought, sold and forced to stay against their will.

For that thirty-year time span we see a forced increase of 2,578 Afrikans and a voluntary decrease of 1,137 europeans.

On July the 7th 1712 the French once again made a devastating attack on the island and laid to waste all the progress that the settlers had made in the previous years.

Plantations were burnt to the ground, warehouses were destroyed and provisions were taken. All military installations and canons were destroyed.

1,200 Afrikans were taken by the French in that invasion and carried away one week later when they left the island.

Fully one third of the Afrikan population in Montserrat were removed at this time.

This brings to the end the second phase of the european settlement of the island.

As can be seen, the structure of the society and the persistent and pressing problems did not offer much in the way of interactions with anyone considered to be different and beneath one's place in society.

The english landholder was persistent. All of the other islands were making profits through their inhuman treatment of the Afrikan.

With captive Afrikans to use for free labour, intensive plantation agriculture had now become the vehicle for riches.

The small farmers, their spirits broken and deep in debt, sold their holdings and moved on to greener pastures.

The landholders now began their intensive plantation systems and the captive Afrikan became the tool through which they would attain their dreams and live the life of luxury.

This began the third phase of the european settler on the island. Between 1714-1729, 3,485 captive Afrikans were brought to the island. The 1729 census shows 5,855 Afrikans and 1,143 europeans. Afrikans made up 81% of the population.

The concentrated and unified inhuman treatment of the Afrikan on the island had begun. Intensive forced labour from dusk to dawn, the clearing of inhospitable terrain, the planting and weeding of regions previously inaccessible to the european, now became the lot of the captured Afrikan.

The island which previous governors had written off and which one governor had even suggested be traded to the French because it had no worth was now exporting rum, muscavado sugar, molasses, cotton, lime juice, and pimento.

What the european settler could not do through his own strength and free-will, they now imposed upon the Afrikan captive.

The Afrikan, viewed by europeans as property and a commodity to own and dispose as they saw fit, was beaten, worked and starved to death during this period, to insure that the plantation master made a profit.

An Afrikan could have expected to live for about 7 years during this era.

Because of the attitude of the entire european population to the Afrikan, the Afrikan became a unit of trade, a commodity, an item easily replaceable and a being with no humanity .

The lust and greed of europe for riches and luxury allowed them to change the social structure of humanity and their religious institutions salved their conscience as their systems destroyed and dehumanized the Afrikan for gain and profit.

By 1736, there were 6,176 captive Afrikans and by 1756, the census shows 8,853 Afrikans and 1,430 europeans. Afrikans made up 86% of the people of the island.

In 1768 captive Afrikans made up 88% of the population of the island. On St. Patrick's day of that year, Afrikans throughout the island decided that it was time to take their destiny in their own hands. No longer would they be treated as beasts of burden.

They would rise up with a mighty voice and destroy to a man their tormentors. The revolt, however, was not a success.

For this revolt, Afrikans were burnt alive, quartered, hung, hacked to death, and boiled in oil. This was done to set an example to the other captives as to what was in store for them if they ever dared to dream of freeing themselves.

The Afrikan population continued to increase through forced transportation and importation. By 1787, the census shows 10,000 Afrikans, 1,300 europeans and for the first time, 260 coloreds (colored being the offspring of Afrikan women taken against their will by the european slave master).

From the 1790's going into the 1800s things started to become difficult for the slave masters. Supplies became increasingly more expensive and the sale of captured Afrikans to the americas became more lucrative.

By 1800 Montserrat had become a supplier of captive Afrikans as it became more profitable for the slave masters to sell off their captives. Between 1787 and 1809, the captive Afrikan population on the island was reduced from 10,000 to 6,732.

The 1811 census shows 6,732 Afrikans and 444 europeans on the island. Afrikans now made up 94% of the population.

The Afrikan, still held in captivity by the european, now began to feel the intrusion of the religious institutions upon his mentality.

In 1824, the christianizing of the Afrikan began. Missionaries from every denomination began to force themselves upon the slave masters. Even before Afrikans had won their physical freedom, their mental prison was being prepared for them.

In 1834 after many trials and tribulations, torture, destruction and deprivation, open revolution and warfare, the Afrikan won his physical freedom from the european.

Emancipation as it was called, proved to be just another trick by the slave masters to hold on to the Afrikan and tie them to the plantations.

The british government, however, compensated the slave master in Montserrat, to the tune of £103,566 for the loss of their property.

Afrikans throughout the world are still seeking their compensation for one of the most brutal eras in the history of mankind.

It was during this time that the Afrikan in Montserrat lost all traces of their true identity. During their time of captivity, they had two names: one by which they answered when the slave master called, and another by which they were known to each other.

Christian missionary policy, however, dictated that in order for anyone to be be accepted into the christian religion they had to be baptised with a proper "christian" name.

It was part of the missionary's job to convince the Afrikan of his "heathen ways " culture and names.

In order to be accepted as a true christian the Afrikan had to do away with their true name and heritage.

In order to be baptised into the christian religion the Afrikan had to adopt a "proper" christian name.

The process had begun ten years before. Upon so-called emancipation the remaining population as they became "christians"discarded their true names and were baptized with the false identities of their former masters, or that of the name of the plantation on which they resided.

To this day, the vast majority of Montserratians have two names: their baptismal name which goes on their birth certificate and another by which they are known by in the community.

At this point in time Afrikans made up 95% of the population of the island.

So-called emancipation did not stop the traffic in Afrikans and a trade developed between the former slave masters and the slave masters in South America.

Afrikans in Montserrat were kidnapped and sold on the open market in Guyana and to some of the large landholders on larger islands.

Free Afrikans began to migrate to Cuba, Trinidad, Santo Domingo, Haiti, Panama and Afrika. Anywhere that Afrikans could sell their labour for a higher price than was being paid to them on the plantation they went there.

The plantation-holders, virtually bankrupt and devoid of their power and luxury, made their exodus. The 1851 census shows 6,903 Afrikans and 150 europeans. Afrikans now made up 98% of the population.

By 1881, Afrikans made up 99% of the population of the island. This statistic has never dropped below 90% from that time to the present.

The third phase of the settler occupation had come to an end.

From this point on, the history of Montserrat is about the struggle of the displaced Afrikan population to make a place for themselves.

From 1834 until 1952, Afrikans in Montserrat were still tied to the plantations. The right to vote was not one of their privileges and they had no say in the decision-making processes that determined their destiny.

Adult suffrage, the right for everyone over the age of 21 to vote, came to Montserrat in 1952. With that right, the voting populace, all Afrikans, put an all-Afrikan legislative council into power.

Within a short period of time, that council wrote the legislation that finally freed Afrikans from the plantation.

For the next forty years the population and its legislative members struggled to escape the convoluted maze of colonial control.

The restricted powers of the local legislature and the reserved powers of the colonial overlords make it extremely difficult for the populace to have a deciding voice in the determination of their own destiny.

In the early 1980's the fourth phase of the settler control of Montserrat was started. Because old colonial systems and old societal values are still in place,it has made it extremely easy for the descendants of the old slave masters, still maintaining their slave master mentality, to move back into key positions of control throughout the island.

With the perception in england that the remaining dependant territories have an economic and financial base that can be exploited, the english population in Montserrat is once again on the increase.

At no point in time throughout the 360 years of european occupation on the island of Montserrat is there any indication that the two ethnic groups merged, amalgamated, and formed a creole Afrikan- anglo or creole Afrikan-irish society.

If there's any doubt in your mind, just look at the faces around you.

This article was written by the author to dispel once and for all the myth that is being perpetuated by a minor sector of our society which have lead us and the world to believe that Montserratians have an Irish heritage.

                                               Montserratians are Afrikans.


THEY HAVE PAVED THE WAY

by Doris Piper
They toiled in the dust day after day, night after night.
Whiplashed, beaten upon, they still survived.
Barefoot, sun stroked, tired.
Your piercing bitter lies tormented them and kept them trapped.
Slaves within themselves.
Within the darkness of the night they heard the cry.
Rise up brother, revolt, take a stand.
But you! You made them cowards.
Many backed down.
But a few, yes a few, they held firm and grew.
Yes they grew, and like stalwarts they marched on anticipating.
They'll soon forget history's shame,
Trying to fight their shameful mockery,
Taking a stand to rebel when necessary.
The faithful few who knew their destiny,
Who believed that life would one day be better,
Know now, that they have paved the way.


AFRIKAN BOOKS FOR CARIBBEAN CHILDREN

A series of early learning books with a unique Afrikan theme is been launched in the Caribbean this month.

The books, aimed mostly at children, are published by Jacaranda Design in Kenya, and have met with wide acclaim in the USA where the awareness of Afrikan heritage is growing.

Third World Interface, a BVI registered company with its principle operating office in Nassau, The Bahamas, has been appointed sole Caribbean distributor for the books.

The series was previewed by the Caribbean community at the end of May, at the ABA trade show in Miami beach, which was attended by several buyers from the region.

Third World Interface reports a keen interest in the books from bookstores and educationalists alike, because "the books are a departure from conventional themes, yet address the basic learning requirements of primary school pupils."

A visit to key islands is being planned to introduce the collection first hand to schools, libraries, and other organizations concerned with education.


AFRIKAN NEWS

WINNIE MANDELA VINDICATED

The racist south african judiciary, an extension of the executive, suspended on the orders of the ruling National Party, the 5-year prison sentence imposed on Winnie Mandela.

The whites-only appeal court struck out the assault conviction against the much loved Mother of the Nation and reduced her five year jail sentence to a two year suspended sentence.

Winnie Mandela has always maintained her innocence. She was convicted by a white racist court on hearsay and rumor, and without a shred of convincing evidence.

Winnie's real crime was that she stood up to the racist regime of south africa despite bannings, tortures, abuse, insults and imprisonments. Throughout all this she kept the flag of the ANC flying.

Without her heroic stance it is highly unlikely that the ANC would today be negotiating with the apartheid regime of de Klerk.


PAC LEADERS ARRESTED

In the early hours of May 25, 1993 the security forces of the south african regime carried out a nation wide swoop against the members of the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania.

Their particular target was the leadership of the PAC , both at the national and regional levels. Thus far 72 members have been detained in the country wide swoop.

The PAc considers the raid and arrests, in true facist fashion, as totally unwarranted and a further confirmation that apartheid is very much alive in the country.

Although there are conflicting statements from different representatives of the regime concerning the decision and execution of the fascist raid, the PAC holds the regime responsible for the condemned act.


STRIPPED OF TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF SELF. PROPAGANDISED TO GRAFT A FALSE CONCEPT OF SELF. EDUCATED TO MAINTAIN FALSE CONCEPTS. BOMBARDED BY MEDIA WITH MISLEADING DATA. WHEN OH WHEN WILL WE AWAKE??

Mwongozi cudjoe browne


BACK TO             HOMEPAGE

1