Indians Need to Learn Some African History

13

By The Piper

The PiperIf you ask a ‘man-in-the-street’ Indian to tell you something about Guyanese history you are likely to hear some story like what follows.

First of all, Guyana had only the Amerindians (more likely ‘Buck-man’). When the White- man came here they decided to grow sugar but the Amerindians didn’t like that kind of work and so they ran away.

What the White-man did next was to bring in the Africans (more likely ‘Black-man’), and they worked for a long time, but they did not want to work anymore. After the African refuse to do the work, they brought the Portuguese (likely ‘Pataghee’) and because they are whitish they did not manage the work; so then they bring the Chinese (likely ‘Chinee’) and they were too weak to do they work.

After all of them fail, then they bring the Indians (likely ‘Coolie-man’), and it is the ‘Coolie-man’ that build not only the sugar industry but also the rice industry. More middle-class versions of the above are expressed in the claim that indentureship was just like slavery, a second slavery.

The layman’s story of Guyanese history is balderdash, but even balderdash needs to be understood, rather than simply dismissed; or worst yet deemed racist. The more productive thing to do is ask why so many quite normal people, decent people, responsible people, would repeat a near identical version of history.

The charge of ignorance is often offered up as an explanation but one must be careful with that position. To be ignorant is to ignore that which you really do know, in order to construct a desired narrative, the latter itself, geared towards some kind of cultural claim, or even political legitimacy. But I don’t think this is the case.

I am confident that, in fact, Indians really do not have even an elementary knowledge of slavery in Guyana. Most of what they do know about the subject comes from Hollywood and American television shows. Guyanese Indians believe that real slavery happened mostly in the US.

One can legitimately challenge the claim that Guyanese Indians do not know. Fair enough, but it might be more accurate to say that they have heard something about it. Most of the things they have heard likely came from other people who heard. In other words, knowledge of slavery in Guyana, apart from preparing for history exams, has come predominantly through rumours. All of the rumours are contaminated with current political conflicts with the result that slavery, is simply dismissed as something that happened so long ago, that it has no current relevance.

The tragedy persists because there are hardly any credible public intellectuals who have taken up the challenge of meaningfully educating our people (in this case Indians) about slavery, not only in terms of production, but in terms of real life under slavery, and the life-world of slaves.

It is imperative that young Guyanese Indians (and others, of course) deepen their understanding of the long term consequences of enslavement. Lacking credible public intellectuals (on this subject) as we do, the Ministry of Education in Guyana should take up the task and immediately contract a film-maker to produce a world-class documentary on slavery in Guyana. That of course, would be just an installment in a much more comprehensive project.

13 COMMENTS

  1. The Guyanese Indians know just as much as their African counterpart, they all learnt the same history in schools. If the writer is so concerned about history he or she can host seminars to educate the Guyanese people, and to make sure that the content reflect the stronger tribes raiding and capturing the weaker ones and sold them to the slavers of the new world

  2. And as for you Lloyd tell that nonsense you opened with to the so_called jews. They never miss an oppirtunity to remind the world about the holocaust. . But we who suffered the most should forget. Let me enlighten you brother. A conservative estimate of those killed during the middle passage was 22 million souls. Those killed on West Indian plantations_ unknown After being transported to America once SEASONED it was more hell in America. Lynching. Rapes babies being cut from the bellies of mothers they and their mothers sold. or rented out the list is exhaustive the cruelty is unparalleled. But despite this they overcame what is the worst form of cruelty ever on the planet. The holocaust cannot touch what our peoples endured and yet the so_called jews never let us forget their 6 million thrown in ovens. Despite our suffering Africans strived in America they invented street lighting air conditioner. Street sweerper harvester shoe making porocess light bulb Edisons burned out. Lit NYC refrigeration all the way down to the cell phone of today. It is said if black people did not invent as much as they did America would not be what it is today. Of course the list of black inventions is
    L_o_n_g. Do your research You name the product we invented it while being enslaved_ of course massa took possession. “A people who fails to learn their history is destined to repeat it” So Lloyd read and maybe just maybe you wont spout that nonsense you began your piece with.

  3. Maharanee for once I am in total agreement with you. In order to foster a better understanding of each other our individual (ethnic) contributions to the building of this country we need to know each others history. If not we will hear and read the trash being peddled by the likes of Sly. Each group Afro and Indian Guyanese contributed to the building of our country. What is not known is the cruelty and sacrifice each of our peoples endured under the cruel hand of the British in this building process. I dare say Africans by far suffered the most. Yes Indians suffered but by the time they arrived inslavenent was on the decline or outlawed. Each group contribututed to our development in their own way. No one more than the other. But one suffered more than the other. This bull crap about which group build and contributed more and if they leave what will happen is as ignorant and vacuous as the writer. I would like to say much more about the details of enslavement and how the free labour built the European and Western economies including the ruling class at the time in Guyana but space does not permit.

  4. To the writer of this pathetic piece : I am sure you watch too much American TV or have lived in America. Don’t use the sympathetic prop like the JEWS to gain sympathy and American blacks . Use the strength of the rebellions of slavery as power to move on and build and be a better people . Not a prop and an excuse to be pitted for and be lazy. you were not enslaved . your ancestors and the indentured were slaves. so go to africa and ask the kids in school what they know bout the slave trade …. they know noting … i say that because i live and work in west africa for 3 yrs. you need to stop the racial divide and build a country of unity. like Burnam had said when his rebellious blind sighted and ignorant followers wanted to burn Georgetown down in the 70’S ” if we get rid of the Indians who will mind you”? what you need to do is go back and learn your african roots and culture it seems you have lost it in your assimilation in the western civilization.don’t hate the Indians that kept theirs .

  5. If you have nothing sensible to say burch01, shut your trap or use that orifice to catch flies as you lazily lay wherever you do instead contemplating on ” how deep seated is the wilful ignorance that the Indians have about themselves being the founder and savior of the sugar industry in Guyana”.
    The PIPER is most insulting to the intelligence of Indians as whole. If you think Indians worked in the sugar industry only, then this is a perfect disclosure of how ignorant you are about the life of Indians across the country. If Indians should leave Guyana en mass- THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN- then there would be no Guyana. Indians have been the engine of growth and development in Guyana since their arrival in every area of national development.They have been the most successful ethnic group not by political patronage, but by hard work and prudence.
    THINK ABOUT IT!!!!!!

  6. No one care about slavery, that is in the past. Likewise the blacks need to learn Indian culture. Why is it always about the blacks? Why is it always about slavery? If it weren’t for the white man, blacks would have been living in Africa and punishing. So think of yourselves as Guyanese , forget the past and think of Tomorrow , ignore those who spread racism or those who try to use slavery as means to seek sympathy.

  7. The response from the two above bloggers only goes to confirm how accurate the letter writer was ,and how deep seated is the wilful ignorance that the Indians have about themselves being the founder and savior of the sugar industry in Guyana.

  8. Why restrict it to slavery? Afro Guyanese should also learn about Indian indentureship. Afro Guyanese likely have the same narrative as Indians do regarding slavery.

    All Guyanese should learn the history of all our peoples.

  9. ”I am confident that, in fact, Indians really do not have even an elementary knowledge of slavery in Guyana. Most of what they do know about the subject comes from Hollywood and American television shows. Guyanese Indians believe that real slavery happened mostly in the US…”.
    THIS IS ABSOLUTE BALDERDASH PIPER!!!!
    Your nonacademic view on this issue shows you that yourself do not have any understanding of slavery nor indenturedship. Your assumption that Indians ”do not have even an elementary knowledge of slavery in Guyana” exposes your ignorance of what WAS/ is being taught in Guyana’s schools across the country. I can definitely speak authoritatively of what level of Guyanese history was taught since after independence right through up to the late 90’s in the Primary schools. I know because as a pupil I learned about Guyanese history. As a teacher for almost two decades in Guyana, I also taught Guyanese history as part of the Social Studies curriculum.
    Why did you not mention that Indians under Indenturedship suffered the same as under slavery and that Africans should learn about that as well? You biased view and blanket assertion that Indians do not have even an elementary knowledge of slavery shows your disrespect for Indians as a whole. Do you have the same confidence that Africans DO have more than an elementary knowledge of Indenturedship? Bet you wouldn’t dare for fear for being labelled a racist once you write anything in a negative light about that ethnic group.
    Indians have always been at the receiving end of insults, violence, arson, murder, robbery, you name them; they endured them all since their arrival in Guyana in 1838.This is EYEPASS to the highest degree despite the massive contribution they have made to the country in every area of National Development.
    In conclusion PIPER, your view express here is nothing more than adding insult to injury

  10. How many black people living today ever serve as Slaves? Black people need to confront reality Headon and prepare themselvesfor personal development. Marry one woman raise a family , stop partying and squandering their money on expensive clothing and perfume etc and channel all their resources Iinto productive development. Harping on slavery by the Egyptians some 5000 years ago or by the Babylonian or Romans or whoever will not help them. We are not only all Guyanese.For God sake we are all humans with brains and we all realise that the only thing that produces success Iis HARD WORK Constant complaints t NEVER worked.Follow the examples of the Indians and make work. Lots of black people in this country are doing that and are not complaining.How about doing what my friend started doing before he owns a Business? He started off picking up dry cow down and sell it . He picked up seashell and sold it . He picked up bottles and sold them. He collected feathers from chicken farmers and endorsed , washed and stripped them and made pillows and sold them. Gradually after 15 years he owned an electronic store.

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