Bartholomew de Las Casas., Thomas Manning and Walter Rodney: Some Challenges for CARICOM Reparatory Justice Movement.

On the eve of the Forty First Anniversary to commemorate the assassination of the Third World Herculean Historian/political activist, Professor Walter Rodney the associate professor at City University of New York and visiting research fellow at Centre for Reparation Research, UWI Mona Campus, Kingston, Jamaica. Ahmed Reid’s letter regarding Thomas Manning, the Founder of Manning High School was published in the Saturday Gleaner, June 12, 2021, page 6. He seizes the opportunity exorcizing the slave owner who in 1710 bequeathed his estate with its fourteen slaves at BurntSavannah, Westmoreland for a High School in the parish.

Certainly, Ahmed Reid indignation for the Gleaner’s editor to allow the word servant rather than slaves to be used in that Friday, June 6, 2021 report was justified due to the vast linguistic differences in the meaning of both words. However his sweeping indictment on Thomas Manning is unwarranted and reflects a trait of intellectual terrorism which is reminiscent of the mid 1970’s Michael (Joshua) Manley turbulent regime when the Jamaican leftrocracy on the University of the West Indies Mona Campus especially in the Social Science faculty. At that time there was a stifling of robust intellectual discourses on the ideological directions of an embryonic post-colonial political entity. If you opposed the political and economic trends leading to the Sovietization or Cubanization of our beloved Jamaica you were regard as Counter-revolutionary and probably a C.I.A.

In his virulent attack on Thomas Manning, Ahmed Reid failed to see him as a Benevolent slave master and a pioneer in philanthropy with John Wolmer, the Founder of Wolmer’s High School. He went to the moralist extremity in calling for the renaming of the second oldest high school (1738) (Wolmer’s was the first) and he questioned the Fund Raising effort to restore a building that bears the name of a slave owner.

There was a great deal of surprise and appreciation of majority of Manning’s School alumni by the involvement by Mzee(Sage or Elder) retired Prime Minister Percival James Patterson at the launching of this important event on June 3, 2021. Patterson in his characteristic subdued but Oral regal vein states, “Manning’s School is still in its prime and indeed, it is top ranking. You should find the past students, hunt them down, and impose a CESS for this restoration programme…I am confident that the restoration committee chosen by the alumni association has distinguished persons who will be persistent to marshall funds from past students especially those still at home in Jamaica and those who are living abroad in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.” (Christopher Surjue-Levy Cess on Manning’s School past students for main building’s restoration-Patterson, The Gleaner, Monday June 7, 2021. page B9).

Thomas Manning-A Benevolent Slave Master

One of the most bothersome issues in Ahmed Reid’s pungent response to the Gleaner story of June 6, 2021 is his refusal, similar to his prominent colleagues in the Reparatory Restorative Justice and Compensation Movements to the roles of the Indigenous African Slave Traders in this International Transactional Enterprise.

 This is the main theme in this particular Manning’s alumn/ Historian/political scientist’s discussion.

We shall demonstrate later in this discussion that the Founder of Manning’s High School was head and shoulders, in terms of empathy, above the Indigenous Slave Traders, who enthusiastically engaged in the sale of more than twelve (12) million of their people to the European Slave Traders to be shipped to the Hemispheric Americas (Central, Latin America and the British West Indies; and the estimated 17,000,000 who crossed the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and Sahara Desert from 1650-1900. (Please see Ewald, Janet J. 1992. Slavery in Africa and the slave trade from Africa. The American Historical Review 97 (2): 465-85).(Walter Rodney-1966 Dissertation: A History of the Upper Guinea Coast 1545-1800-the London School of Oriental and African Studies-University of London. Walter Rodney- How Europe Under Developed Africa.- publish jointly by Tanzania Publishing House BogleL’ouvertura in London a year later in 1972. Rupert Charles Lewis-Walter Rodney’s Intellectual and Political Thought. The Press. University of the West Indies. Jamaica. Barbados. Trinidad and Tobago; Wayne State University Press.

Undoubtedly, Retired Prime Minister Percival James Patterson’s involvement in this launching was a ‘shot above the bow’ of the Reparations Advocates at UWI, Mona, Kingston and throughout the Caribbean Diasporas. It must have contributed to Professor Ahmed Reid’s angst, which is reflected in his letter to the Gleaner’s editor. In his response, Reid writes, “The enslaved people listed in Manning’s will, were not servant. They had no choice of employment, they were not paid by Manning, and their entire existence as enslaved people was one of exploitation, dehumanization and brutalization at the hands of Manning/his representatives and enslaves of his ilk. They were chattel, property and real estate and narratives and law evolved to rationalize these injustices. This erasure of the brutal realities of enslavement reinforces the wall of silence that colonial Europe erected after slavery was outlawed. A similar wall of was erected around the massacre of an estimated 300 African American in Tulsa in 1921. “This is much more than an error. This is a larger issue about how much we deal with race and slavery in Jamaica, how we choose to interpret the past, and the attempts in some quarters to sanitize this issue. Most important it shows the urgency of compulsory history education if we are to complete the process of decolonization, including language deconstruction. (Please see Ahmed Reid-They were not Manning’s servant. The Gleaner, June 12, 2021. pA6.)

Arguably, in reading Ahmed Reid’s outburst on Thomas Manning he leave the impression from an intellectual perspective that he has not read any of Walter Rodney’s voluminous writings on the roles of the African Indigenous Slave Traders and their commercial activities with the European Slave Traders. A particular interest of the Guyanese born Historian is the role of the Afro Portuguese mulattoes, especially the female mulattoes. (See Rupert Lewis p.50-55).

To a large degree it can be argued that Ahmed Reid’s letter was a subtle rebuke at MZEE Retired Prime Minister Percival James Patterson for his support of this noble cause by the Manning’s High School Alumni Associations. Reid, perhaps was startled that such a pre-eminent member of the Reparatory Justice and Compensation Movement was so committed to this project which bears a slave masters name. Percival James Patterson unlike Reida prodigal son similar to Sir Alexander Bustamante of the Historical parish of Westmoreland is fully aware of the central role of Manning’s High School in the shaping of some of the most brilliant and best minds of Jamaica and throughout the Diasporas. It must be highlighted and must not be forgotten that Sir William Alexander Bustamante’s pre-eminence in our political landscape resulted from his Heroic actions in early May 1938 at the Frome Factory in Westmoreland. It is not an exaggeration to point out that Reid’s verbal attack towards Thomas Manning is reminiscent to the hostile attack by the highly educated members of the People’s National Party from 1944-1977 against this Founding Father of our nation. (I can hear the denials by the staunch supporters of the PNP on this point).

By his letter to the Gleaner editor, Saturday, June 12, 2021. pA6, Professor Ahmed Reid joined the miniscule voices within the global Manning’s Alumni Associations to diminish the gifts of JA$20 million by the parish’s indigenous global conglomerate, Jamaica National Bank, (formerly Hendon Bank of over 100 years) and the whopping JA$10 million gift by Victor Lowe, the Bill Gates of The Bill Gates/Melinda Gates Foundation and the Karl Hendrickson of Jamaica National Bakery who in a similar stellar philanthropic vein, has provided millions of his own money for expansion and modernization of Jamaica College which holds the contested number one rank in our high school system. Manning’s Alumni, such as this particular writer and the thousands of others who are still on this planet have not ceded our status as the oldest and best co-educational high school. Notably, the Jamaica plutocrats and politicians, Mark Golden and the leader of Her Majesty oppositional party in the People’s National Party and Peter Bunting, the leader of Oppositional Business in the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively in our Parliament Building, Gordon House, on Duke Street in Kingston, Jamaica are engaged in similar philanthropic activities on behalf of Campion College, their alma mater at the High School level.

From Thomas Manning to Thomas Jefferson

In his brutal attack on the slave owning Founder of Manning’s High School, Professor Reid called for the renaming of this more than two hundred and fifty years High School. It is quite clear that he is recommending that one of Downtown Savanna-la-Mar’s brightest and best and perhaps the most successful global entrepreneurs within our rank should not spend any more of his hard earned millions (more than JA$80 million so far, for a new Administration Building, S.T.E.M Center and Nursing Headquarters, Temporary Library and the impending new luxurious Library) and the potential contributors should not do so until the name Thomas Manning is completely erased from every building on the school compound and a new name is given to this pre-eminent High School.

Professor Ahmed Reid and his Reparations Entourage are treading on treacherous intellectual grounds when they called for the renaming of all buildings and institutions which were financed by slave owners/plantocratic wealth. We need to ask him about the slave owner, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the American Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States of America. He is also renowned for the father of four children by his female slave, Sally Hemmings and the Founder of the University of Virginia, on the Hills of Montecillo, which is regarded as one of the most prestigious Universities throughout the global polity. We need to ask Professor Reid about George Washington, the first president of the United States of America. He was a slave owner and as in the case of Thomas Jefferson and most framers of the 1779 American Constitution was a slave owner. Should the Washington Statue, in Washington D.C. be demolished and scattered in garbage bags throughout America.

Let us ask Professor Ahmed Reid and his illustrious colleagues about Seville in St. Ann where Columbus first landed in 1492 in Jamaica. Should the Jamaican Government change the name of the major tourist attraction on the north coast? Furthermore, we need to ask him if the Government should change the name of the 33 acres Rio Nuevo in St Mary which was the last Battle Ground in 1655 in the military confrontation between the Spanish Colonialists and Admiral Penn and Venable. This has now become a major Tourist Attraction especially due to its Great House and its thousands of Spanish Slavery Artifacts.

There is a Jamaican colloquial-“Duppy know who fi frighten.” In the case of the more than 2000 students at Manning’s and the thousands of alumni we are proud and very appreciative of Thomas Manning’s gift.

Professor Ahmed Reid’s June 12, 2021 Letter to the Gleaner editor provides an opportunity to re assess from a distance the Overarching Reparation Movement engineered by the Caricom Prime Ministers at their Summit. Equally significant he opens the doors to a closer scrutiny of professors Sir Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepherds emergent but incestuous, The Centre for Reparations Research, The UWI, Mona Campus, Kingston, Jamaica and the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Honorable Babsy Grange’s appointed three (3) years Jamaican Reparations Commission with its glaring omission of Ras I YAHV, one of the most powerful voices in the Jamaican and Global Rastafarian Movement over the past four decades. Another urgent question which needs to be asked is how is it that our professor emeritus Rupert Charles Lewis accepted his appointment on the Jamaican Reparations Commission when he is the pre-eminent authority on Professor Walter Rodney by his 1998 magnium opus- Walter Rodney’s Intellectual and Political Thought. (The Press. University of the West Indies. 1998 and Wayne State University Press, Detroit Michigan 1998).

It is a bit tantalizing that Professor emeritus Rupert Lewis is a member of the Jamaican Reparation Commission when his subject Walter Rodney voluminous writings on the indigenous slave trade and Trans-Atlantic Chattel Slavery are completely different than the views of those members who are engaged in the Reparation Movement in Jamaica and the rest of the region and the Diaspora. These advocates of reparatory justice and compensation are in complete denial of the vigorous indigenous slave trading amongst the Africans. ( please see Walter Rodney’s doctoral thesis‘A History of the Upper Guinea Coast 1545-1800’ (May 1966), submitted to the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and later published by Oxford University Press in 1970.

In his doctoral thesis, Rodney was withering in his critiques of the Indigenous African Slave Traders. Rodney in his interpretation on how the Atlantic Slave Trade brought Africa into the international Capitalist order and how the African elites play such a pivotal role proceeded in a balanced analysis, he writes, “The responsibility for the slave trade, as far as Africans themselves bear part of this responsibility, lies squarely upon the shoulders of the tribal rulers and elites. They were in alliance with the European slave merchants, and it was upon the mass of the people that they jointly preyed (Rodney 1970a:114).”(Lewis p.50).

Unlike these new group of Humanitarians and Moralists within the Caribbean Reparatory and Diasporic Members, this intellectual genus and revolutionary giant/martyr never minced his words when he dealt directly with the historical facts discovered in his research in West Africa and Eastern Africa in the early 1960s. He writes, “The Atlantic slave trade was deliberately selective in its impact on the society of the Upper Guinea Coast, with the ruling class protecting itself, while helping the Europeans to exploit the common people. This is of course the widespread pattern of modern neo-colonialism; and by the same token the period of slave trading in West Africa should be regarded as protocolonial. Though on the one hand there was no semblance of European political control over the African rulers, on the other hand it was the Europeans who were accumulating capital (Rodney 1970a:117-18).” (Lewis p.51).

Walter Rodney, unlike these new Advocates of Reparatory Justice and Compensation was not afraid to use his broad intellectual brush to highlight the complementary roles of the middle men and women in the lucrative Transactional International Business in where Black people were seen as commodity or cargo. He highlighted the emergence of new social forces such as the mulatto traders of Afro- Portuguese origins. In an amusing sense, Walter Rodney saw this new intermediary group of mulattoes as like a lizard. He pointed out, “with a white man, he is a white man and with a black man he is a black man.” (Lewisop.sit page 52

He was very analytical of the role of female Portuguese mulatto slave traders which he later discuss in his magisterial work ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’ 1972. Almost to the point of repetition Walter Rodney unlike this present group of prominent group Caribbean historians such as Sir Hilary Bakers, Verene Shepherds and Ahmed Reid, he never glorified Africa before the coming of the white man. Consequently it was very difficult to separate Walter Rodney’s harsh tone and the collaboration between the African elites and the European counterparts. We see this vividly in his pamphlet entitled “West Africa and the African Slave Trade”, where he went for the jugular vein of these African elites. He writes, “for nearly the whole of the period of the Atlantic slave trade in West Africa (and in East Africa also), there were many Africans who were prepared to sell their fellow men in exchange for European manufactures such as cloth, pots and pans, beads and fire-arms…It must be emphasized that the rulers in West Africa were in full political control during the period of the Atlantic slave trade. This was true even in areas where European forts were established, because forts usually built with the permission of the African rulers, and the Europeans were forced to pay rents and taxes for being there. To a large extent, therefore, the Europeans conducted their slave trading on the West African coast under conditions laid down by the Africans (Rodney 1967a: 6-7). (Lewis p.55).

Thomas Manning sure looks better as a humanitarian than our ancestors who sold us into Trans-Atlantic Chattel Slavery. We need to ask professor Ahmeed Reid how come he has a doctorate in African history and has not come across Walter Rodney’s voluminous writings and Trans Atlantic Slavery

Why the conspiracy of Silence on Spain?s

The time is long overdue for Mzee retired Prime Minister Percival James Patterson and the present Caribbean Prime Ministers and the prominent members of the Reparatory Justice and Compensation commissions to stop the gross distortions on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The powerful voice and the singular role of Britain for reparation of harm done to the past, present and future generation of blacks within Jamaica and the rest of Caricom is truly troubling.

Unquestionably, these influential Advocates are intellectually politically and morally disingenuous by the ‘loud’ or conspicuously silence on the Spanish Crown’s predominance and lucrative Slavocracy within what was then known as the Indies, presently Hemispheric Americas prior to the 1690 Madrid Treaty which transferred Jamaica to the British Government. Why is it not similar resounding demands on the Spanish Government, bankers, universities and conglomerates for reparations due to the wealth of the Slavocracy becoming a hegemonic power in the 13th to the 15th centuries?

Why is there not any energetic discussions on the Spanish role in the Caribbean prior to the 1690 Madrid Treaty?

Why is there no discussion on the negative and lasting legacies of the Spaniards, Christopher Columbus and Bartholomew de Las Casas. It is the latter, and not any British explorer or plunderer who is the progenitor originator of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Why is there this Caribbean intellectual ‘academic amnesia’ on Bartholomew de Las Casas the persistent Advocate on behalf of the Indians, throughout the Indies. This led to him successfully convincing the Spanish Regent in Madrid Charles v to substitute Africans to work on the sugar plantation and in the mines due to sturdier body frame for the Indians who were not able to survive the harsh and inhospitable working condition in this hot region. Bartholomew de Las Casas has an unrivaled title as father of Climatic Determination, similar to Carl Marx three century later being known as the father of economic materialism.

Surprisingly, these myopic Reparatory Justice and Compensatory Advocates have been so blinded by their obsession about the British Government apologizing and compensating to the heirs of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, that they have failed to recognize that in spite of the horrific impact on the African continent and her Diasporas this Trans-Atlantic Chattel Slavery also led to the growth and development of Brazil as the largest black country outside of Africa and its role as an economic giant as a member of BRICS. Brazil has its unique distinction of being the only Black Country to hold the World Cup Soccer Championship and the Olympics.

Why is it that they have failed to recognize that this evil magnetic economic force has in its bowels the counter penetrative combustible forces which would lead to Fidle Castro Operation Carlotta four and a half centuries later in the sub-continent of Southern Africa which led to the end of Portuguese’s white Settlerdom in their colonies in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau. This Operation Carlotta which was Castro sending four hundred thousand troops, the majority being Afro Cuban on the boarders of South Africa, which triggered the end of apartheid in South Africa and the release of Nelson Mandella and he becoming in 1994 the first African Prime Minister for his country.

It was the 1513 Bloody Conquest of Cuba which Christopher de Las Casas took part in which would lead to the enslavement of Africans in this country. This conquest would lead Fidel Castro in 1974 justifying in a convincing manner his Trans-Atlantic Pan- Africanist obligation to the African continent and to his large (maybe majority) of Afro-Cuban population in his seven hours speech at Havana Square in mid May 1976.

The then preeminent global Africanist scholar Ali. A. Mazrui, a professor at the University of Michigan, Political Science department at a lecture in mid March 1976 voicerously objected to this Cuban intervention into the sub-continent of Southern Africa. He saw it as a case of the tale ‘wagging the Dog’. It was embarrassing on his part for a small Afro-Latino Caribbean country playing such an Herculean role in the sub-continent of Southern Africa. Furthermore he saw Fidel and Raul Castro as white Latino autocratic leaders denying the Black Cuban majority their equal political and economic rights.

In this crowded lecture hall in the Center for African-American and African studies (CAAS). His doctoral students, this particular writer went for his jugular vein. He was stunned at my harsh critique of him in this intellectual confrontation, I reminded him that this was a glorious example of the sons and daughters of former African slaves returning home to liberate the African continent. He was reminded that both he and Walter Rodney have been expounded and the counter penetrative revolutionary roles of the sons and daughters on the African continent, not only in medicine, nursing and teacher but also in armed liberated struggles to end White minority rule in Africa. This was not the case in previous centuries when the British West Indian regiment was sent from the Caribbean to subdue rebellious Africans in West Africa. From this heated intellectual exchange there was a renewed intellectual admiration by my dissertation chairman towards me. In closing he stunned me by insisting that I include my views on Castro roles in Africa as a chapter in my dissertation.

The Reparatory Advocates are doing a splendid job in reminding the British Government and its people that their wealth and arrogance bordering on racism resulted from the sweat and toil of enslaved Black laborer in Africa and the Caribbean, however they must move away from the presumption that they have a monopoly on morality. They are others in Jamaica, the Caribbean and the Diasporas who may not share their views on the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade and its harm on Africans at home and abroad. We must start to build bridges between us so that we can have a harmonious personal and intellectual relationships.