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Tales from Tortola- Part V: Up yea mighty people

Thomas C. Famous. Photo: Provided
Thomas C. Famous

“Didn’t my people before me slave for this country?” Bob Marley

Over the course of the last 500 years of European colonial oppression, persons throughout the Caribbean have taken up arms or more recently, placards, against unjust and inhumane policies.

History records rebellions in islands such as, but not limited to; Jamaica, Haiti and yes, our own Virgin Islands.

First Black Republic

Without a doubt, the most successful rebellion against European Tyranny took place between the years 1791-1804.

In the then French colony of Saint Domingue, thousands of our African relatives decided that they simply were no longer going to be shackled and beaten by plantation owners. In coordinated actions they burned hundreds of plantations to the ground and exacted revenge upon those who had brutalised them for centuries.

Not only did they burn plantations, but they organised themselves as a disciplined military force led by the legendary Toussaint l’Overture. Within 13 years this army of Africans defeated Napoleon’s forces, then considered to be one of the best armies in the world.

This eventually led to Haiti becoming the first free Black republic in the western hemisphere.

Christmas Rebellion

On Christmas Day 1831, in the largest English Caribbean colony of Jamaica, a rebellion was staged to protest the brutal conditions of enslaved Africans on plantations. Led by Baptist preacher Samuel (Sam) Sharpe, as many as 60,000 or 20 percent of enslaved Africans were mobilised against the British.

Starting with work stoppage on plantations and culminating in armed resistance against the British Army.


Closer to home in the Virgin Islands, we had our very own rebellion.

In October 1878 roughly 50 plantations, sugar mills and sugar fields on St Croix were burnt to the ground in what was to be labelled as the ‘Fireburn’. Three of our ancestors; Axeline Salomon, Mathilda Mcbean and Mary Thomas were the architects of those historic actions.

We hail them as our very own Virgin Island Queens.

March on the British

In July 2014, the then British Governor of Bermuda George Fergusson, took it upon himself to block a decision made by the democratically elected parliament of Bermuda to create a Commission of Inquiry (COI) about historic land thefts.

Within one week, the then Opposition led by Honourable Marc Bean, the Progressive Labour Party mobilised 2,000 Bermudians to march on Governnment House to demand the recall of the governor.

The Progressive Labour Party is now the Government of Bermuda

British Hypocrisy

Fast forward to the year 2018, we in the British Caribbean, face; unfair, unjust and unequal demands from the British Parliament.

Yes, the very same parliament that turned a blind eye to the sufferations of millions of our ancestors, spread throughout the Caribbean for centuries. That very same parliament that allowed the enrichment of the British Empire on the backs and spilt blood of our forefathers and foremothers.

Does it come as any surprise to anyone that once again the British parliament is advocating the further enrichment of those in; Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man and ironically, the City of London, by economically suffocating the Caribbean islands of; Bermuda, BVI and Cayman Islands.

The key difference being the populations of the Caribbean being the descendants of those enslaved Africans.

Yes, those very same Africans who toiled in the sun to fill the pockets of wealthy British Aristocrats for centuries. Those same aristocrats whose descendants now sit in places such as the House of Commons and the House of Lords in the UK

So, as it is clear our backs are against the wall, we must act beyond calling talk shows and or writing on bloggs.

This Thursday May 24, 2018, we must, just as those in; Jamaica, Haiti and Virgin Islands, show that we will not bend over. We will; unite, march and stand up as Kings and Queens.

“Up yea mighty race, accomplish what you will”

Rt. Hounorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey

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