18 million unmarked graves — Our ancestors

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By Makeda Mikael

Twelve million Africans were taken across the Atlantic, leaving six million in a watery grave dying on the Middle Passage.

The records are not yet tallied of those who died from overwork, suicide, shot running away, killed from beatings, lynchings and murderous hateful attacks by their drunken owners.

On this 40th celebration of political independence, as we struggle against economic colonialism from which our people have never quite been freed, we must come to terms also with the injustices meted out to our ancestors over the 400 years of slavery and colonialism.

Although the past is considered history and we are being urged to move on, what about our ancestors, how do we take them with us? We cannot leave them behind, unknown to us, unknown by our children, and our children’s children.

How can we honour our ancestors with remembrances if we do not know the details of what they went through over 400 years — a very long time? What do we remember except what happened to us in the last hundred years since we have learned to read and write, and from oral history? And those days were dark, as we struggled in poverty and dared not enrich ourselves; and those first years of freedom were considered the first days of light they say, in spite of the lynching, and the raw killing with impunity, hunger and abject poverty. And before that darkness!

The plantation lifespan for an African slave in the tobacco, cotton and sugar-cane fields was seven years — it was more cost effective as in 1751 one English planter in Antigua wrote, “to work slaves to the utmost, and by the little fare and hard useage, to wear them out before they become useless and unable to do service, and then to buy new ones to fill up their places.”

It will take ages for our people to become whole again as a new people, the extreme end of the gnome factor, a people who must step by step retrace their beginnings in a strange land and all that followed.

The time has come to bury our dead, bury our ancestors by bringing them to life in the consciousness of children, and their children.

We must begin to mark the existence of our ancestors by creating locations of unmarked graves, holy places, where the memories of our ancestors can grow; establishing physical places on the islands, and the continents of North and South America.

Our ancestors deserve their own open-air spaces, which can be visited by our children and their children like the Jews hold fast to their memories at the Wailing Wall.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. A very beautiful and fitting piece Makeda to mark Emancipation Day 2022. I particularly like your words to “bury our ancestors by bringing them to life in the consciousness of our children”. That is something that our eurocentric education system failed to do and is something that we must address going forward with urgency.

    • Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock! “The unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said their COWARDICE at the decisive moment of the Struggle will give rise to the tragic mishaps.” – Frantz Canon, The Wretched of The Earth!

      My Dear Brother Tabor, You are definitely not that old to have lost all memory of Eve’s Garden and Lady Nugent Burial Ground for the indigent! Where was the Queen of Sheba as a chief advisor to a Government that openly and in full view of an uncaring people whose neglected education permitted the greatest desecration of our modern history!

      “The more the people understand, the more watchful they become and the more they come to realize that finally everything depends on them and their Salvation lies in their true understanding of their interests, and in knowing who their enemies are. The people come to understand that wealth is not the fruit of Labour but the result of organized, protected robbery.” – Fanon!

      Charles, Me Gud Fren, as a legal luminary you are able to educate the Masses on how land was acquired by many government advisors including the Queen of Sheba! I’ll see you on that one but raise you a million on why the Queen of Sheba sold her Caribbean Enterprises to White Foreign Monopoly Capital and not to People of African descent in the registered SIDS, the OECS, CARICOM, the Diaspora of The Motherland!

      “There is no forgiveness when one who claims superiority falls below the standard.” – Frantz Canon, Black Skin, White Masks!

      • John French II you know when it comes to our intellectuals and revolutionary thinkers like Frantz Fanon and CLR James we are on the same page. However, I must confess my ignorance with respect to the situation with Eve’s Garden and Lady Nugent Burial Ground and the involvement of the Chief Advisor to the government that you referred to.

        • Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock! “The Afrocentric Paradigm is a revolutionary shift in thinking proposed as a constructural adjustment to black dislocation, disorientation, decenteredness and lack of agency.” – Dr. Molefi Asante, Afrocentricity, The Theory of Social Change!

          As an advisor to GoAB, the queen of Sheba, notwithstanding her efforts after leaving GoAB, showed the profound need for African people to be re-located economically and later has been victimized by the illusion that she was working in her own best interests when, in fact, she became an apologist wandering in the wilderness of Saba! That she has lived an absurdity and is now unburdening her mind by returning to the source by shinning the light even though the historical referent points lack detailed research must be acknowledged but most certainly will not be applauded by the ACLM survivors who chafed under her dictatorial pronouncements and edicts!

          “Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.”
          ― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth! Ask Mi Gud Fren’s Skye, Ras Smood AKA Jumbie Pickney, Tenman, FTS, BoxBorough or whatever name he assumes now since living in the Lone Star State, et al from as far back as 2009, this mere voice in the wilderness has been lamenting the wanton and un-mourned desecration of Eve’s Garden and Lady Nugent right under the eyes of People of African Descent resident on the Rock! That you have sought the easy way out tells me that the Tabor of Graduate School in Alberta has become lazy! Even as an undergrad in Nova Scotia you would have researched the issue! Briefly: Eve’s Garden was located at Da Bridge, Read Edgar O Lake’s The Devil’s Bridge; and, Lady Nugent was located between The AGS “Bottom Filed and Top Field!” People of African Descent frolic merrily on top of Graves with no cares due to their neglected education!

          “Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it
          is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” ― Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White MasksI For research on both graveyards, you may wish to engage Dr. Reginald Murphy! Your fellow student, Dr. Errol Cort will be able fill you in on what was done to Eve’s Garden!

          “A government or a party gets the people it deserves and sooner or later a people gets the government it deserves.” ― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth! That you would throw in the towel so quickly and not research the land acquisition by the Queen of Sheba for advice rendered to GoAB disappoints! “To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean, making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends on them; that if we stagnate it is their responsibility, and that if we go forward it is due to them too, that there is no such thing as a demiurge, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people themselves and the magic hands are finally only the hands of the people.” ― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth!

          The challenge still stands: “raise you a million on why the Queen of Sheba sold her Caribbean Enterprises to White Foreign Monopoly Capital and not to People of African descent resident in the registered SIDS, the OECS, CARICOM, the Diaspora or The Motherland!” That the Queen of Sheba had a duty to fulfill the mission of economic development and freedom for People of African descent is without question! She has followed the Philosophical path! “What counts today, the question which is looming on the horizon, is the need for a redistribution of wealth. Humanity must reply to this question, or be shaken to pieces by it.” ― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth!

          Hope you had a rewarding Emancipation Day and enjoyable but safe return of Carnival!

          Go Well!

        • Tabor, thank you! Just to let you know after advice on the two burial places, I approached the Museum twice to improve my ignorance and still waiting – so why don’t intellectuals of today with more power to educate start doing just that, educate and stop pulling down people! JF need to write on the two issues.

          • Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock! “A bourgeoisie that has only nationalism to feed the people fails in its mission and inevitably gets tangled up in a series of trials and tribulations. If nationalism is not explained, enriched, and deepened, if it does not very quickly turn into a social and political consciousness, into humanism, then it leads to a dead end. A bourgeois leadership of the underdeveloped countries confines the national consciousness to a sterile formalism. Only the massive commitment by men and women to judicious and productive tasks gives form and substance to this consciousness.” ― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth!

            First my response is triggered by your inclusion of JF in your response to Mi Gud Fren Tabor! When one enters the public arena of discourse with opinion pieces, one should expect their writings to be challenged! Nuff Said Pon Dat!

            In the English speaking Caribbean, The education of People of African descent was cultivated in the English notion of white supremacy of native freedom being rooted in the native soil – the Space and Time – as opposed to the abstract freedoms of liberte, egalite, and fraternite or life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! Present day Elites fear that any disruptive thinking threatens their privileges! More so the creole classes in many Caribbean societies
            fearing the rise of the masses because of ideas based on the acceptance of Africa as a valid concept of history, and African people as agents of history! So A Big Shout out to you for your Business Acumen and Achievements! The question remains, How, When Where and Why!

            Education is failing the masses of People of African Descent resident on the Rock! Why! It finds an response in your question! Why must you and others be spoon fed! Why are we unable to engage in a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions! Simply put the education process is still rooted in rote learning! Mi Gud Fren Skye has for decades been lambasting the powers that be for this and their system of operant conditioning! Here’s Thomas Macaulay who was “pellucidly clear” (Quite sure you will recognize that language) as to what the purpose of the English curriculum was: “to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and color but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.” (Minute on Education)! This could be applied to Africans as well People of African Descent in the English Speaking Caribbean! As an alumni of AGHS and the AGS how much has this changed today! It is truly sad that with all the time you spent at AGS, you were not aware of the Indigent Burial Ground just east of the Bottom Field and West of Top Field! Shall we say “A Neglected Education!” Does that help in identifying all that now covers, buries, erases and desecrates that space, by a Government of which you were an advisor! This mere voice in the wilderness has boycotted those places and spaces from the time of that sad and disgraceful intervention by GoAB!

            How many know that on Emancipation, the first appointed Police Commissioner of African descent was one Henry Loving, “a free coloured” or in essence a man of African Descent fathered by a European! Should you be given more information on this or should you seek and find the information! Given that he was appointed on Emancipation should whet the appetite of critical thinkers and the inquisitive to find out more about the how, when, where, and, why!

            Here are some other Burial Sites which may have gone unnoticed, unlike the Big Church (Anglican or Church of England, and the Deacons, Altar Persons, Priests, Canons and Bishops continue to bamboozle People of African Descent that this is their church) Burial Ground, and, are worth mentioning in the City of St. John’s: The Methodist Church; The Moravian Church; The Rat Island Burial Site; and The Burial Site in the Point!

            Last but not Least, How many of our Children know of the Barracoon at the bottom of Nevis Street! In this day and age with IT no one needs to be spoon fed with rote learning! Use Critical Thinking and the Young Inquisitive minds to find out about those issues!

            “The colonial world is a Manichean world. It is not enough for the settler to delimit physically, that is to say with the help of the army and the police force, the place of the native. As if to show the totalitarian character of colonial exploitation the settler paints the native as a sort of quintessence of evil. Native society is not simply described as a society lacking in values. It is not enough for the colonist to affirm that those values have disappeared from, or still better never existed in, the colonial world. The native is declared insensible to ethics; he represents not only the absence of values, but also the negation of values. He is, let us dare to admit, the enemy of values, and in this sense he is the absolute evil. He is the corrosive element, destroying all that comes near him; he is the deforming element, disfiguring all that has to do with beauty or morality; he is the depository of maleficent powers, the unconscious and irretrievable instrument of blind forces.” ― Franz Fanon!

          • @Makeda Mikael…you’re gonna wait a lifetime, to get such historical information from Our National Museum.
            In regards to the History which John French II speaks, our ancestors, the African side(many of us are mixed with the European blood as well, but that’s not the issue here). The kind of history which would educate #ALL, about Our Nation is #Oral, as in the #da_Griots Style.
            My 94 year young mother still speaks of her grandmother. She told her stories of her grandmother who was just coming out of Slavery. This is the Oral History which is missing from our Early Childhood Education System.
            The other area where historical and verifiable data about our history from the Bastardization of children to the control of our lands can be found is, is the Church. Being the fact, that they, the church are the main slave traders, they kept meticulous records, of every slave their offsprings and the operations of their business interest, the Slave Plantation.

            Today, the People for the most part are so far removed from the essence of history, that celebrating Our Ancestors becomes painful.

            the bones of Mami_Wata & Papa _Elegba are rattling🦴🦴🦴🦴🦴🦴🦴.

      • Sir, if you survived grand theft once saw the grand thief coming in more strength and evil to tief again, you too would sell to the first bidder to save your self from abject poverty. But God awards the widow, and defenseless, and I defended and I was rewarded with the benefits of the first thief.
        You will be very happy to know I now face a much bigger battle now I have found an Antiguan with powers, to hand over a much bigger enterprise with the return of even more Antiguan lands from foreign hands. You too will rejoice!
        I loved and feared you as a child in your first dispensation when you preached truth of God to Power, now you clearly have become contaminated with bias and untruths, through time and coming back in this dispensation! Jah love still for old remembrances of whom you were!

        • Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock! “Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The BEST lack ALL CONVICTION, while the WORST Are full of PASSIONATE INTENSITY. Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. THE SECOND COMING! SECOND COMING! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. The darkness drops again; but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” – William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming!

          Wish you All The Best in your Second Coming!

          “The national bourgeoisie discovers its historical mission as intermediary. As we have seen, its vocation is not to transform the nation but prosaically serve as a conveyor belt for capitalism, forced to camouflage itself behind the mask of neocolonialism. The national bourgeoisie, with no misgivings and with great pride, revels in the role of agent in its dealings with the Western bourgeoisie. This lucrative role, this function as small-time racketeer, this narrow-mindedness and lack of ambition are symptomatic of the incapacity of the national bourgeoisie to fulfil its historic role as bourgeoisie. The dynamic, pioneering aspect, the inventive, discoverer-of-new-worlds aspect common to every national bourgeoisie is here lamentably absent. At the core of the national bourgeoisie of the colonial countries a hedonistic mentality prevails—because on a psychological level it identifies with the Western bourgeoisie from which it has slurped every lesson. It mimics the Western bourgeoisie in its negative and decadent aspects without having accomplished the initial phases of exploration and invention that are the assets of this Western bourgeoisie whatever the circumstances. In its early days the national bourgeoisie of the colonial countries identifies with the last stages of the Western bourgeoisie. Don’t believe it is taking short cuts. In fact it starts at the end. It is already senile, having experienced neither the exuberance nor the brazen determination of youth and adolescence.” ― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth!

          Given your aviation and financial capacity, have you ever given thought to joining the fray and engaging with GoAB in seeing the Phoenix LIAT 1974 rise from the Volcanic ashes of the Insular and Destructive Nativist Politics of The Caribbean Archipelago! Revisit the words of the Nyahman Ratwell…hear+ye! “National culture is the collective thought process of a people to describe, justify, and extol the actions whereby they have joined forces and remained strong. National culture in the underdeveloped countries, therefore, must lie at the very heart of the liberation struggle these countries are waging. … We must not cultivate the spirit of the exceptional or look for the hero (with their enrichment schemes), another form of leader. We must elevate the people, expand their minds, equip them, differentiate them, and humanize them.” ― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

          To dismiss the words of critical commentary as being “contaminated with bias and untruths, through time and coming back in this dispensation!” is as Yeats began descriptively yet painfully, poignantly and lamentably “Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer;” So just a closer walk with you in Space & Time: 18 million unmarked graves — Our ancestors – ANR By Makeda Mikael October 30, 2021! Let me repeat JFII’s comments offered at that Time!

          “This is so Sad! Very Sad! A case of “Neglected Education” and completely bamboozled by the Eurocentric teachings of Archbishop Malki! “An endless task, the cataloguing of reality. We accumulate facts, we discuss them, but with every line that is written, with every statement that is made, one has the feeling of incompleteness.” ― Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks!
          //How sad that no one, “natta wan pan de wrak,” including the Queen of Sheba has taken up the cause of Eve’s Garden and Lady Nugent Burial Ground! Why have they, not only been desecrated but erased forever from Antigua and Barbuda Historical Referent Points in Time and Space!
          //Given that this was a very profitable business, the Europeans detailed and accounted for every penny that was spent on their “human trafficking!” They left a ship’s registry that ADOMS and ABPA would be envious of!
          //Charles as one of A&B’s most outspoken and most read Legal Luminary, you are well aware that the Socratic method of discussion holds little sway except amongst youthful exuberance untainted by social media and the quick bytes and clicks which are the financial backbone of this Sector! This mere voice in the wilderness offers the youth an interactive Journey back in Time and Space: The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes! 315 years! 20,528 voyages! Millions of lives!
          //”This interactive, designed and built by Slate’s Andrew Kahn, gives you a sense of the scale of the trans-Atlantic slave trade across time, as well as the flow of transport and eventual destinations. The dots—which represent individual slave ships—also correspond to the size of each voyage. The larger the dot, the more enslaved people on board. And if you pause the map and click on a dot, you’ll learn about the ship’s flag—was it British? Portuguese? French?—its origin point, its destination, and its history in the slave trade. The interactive animates more than 20,000 voyages cataloged in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database. (We excluded voyages for which there is incomplete or vague information in the database.) The graph at the bottom accumulates statistics based on the raw data used in the interactive and, again, only represents a portion of the actual slave trade—about one-half of the number of enslaved Africans who actually were transported away from the continent.”
          //Hopefully the good editors at ANR in the interest of research and education will permit the URL below:
          https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/09/atlantic-slave-trade-history-animated-interactive.html
          //Let us leave the last word to one of the most prolific, profitable, privateer slave trader who later found salvation and “Amazing Grace”, (which is sung lustily throughout the African Diaspora) as high priest and clergyman in the Anglican Church of England, the one and only Captain John Newton, then led by British George 111 who was a descendant of the German Royal House of Hanover! Elizabeth II is of the German House of the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha line! It was changed because of the First World war to the House of Windsor to give it a British name! And we continue to award Knights of the Roundtable and Grand Dames, even after all of our trials and tribulations and now independence of 40 years!
          //Oh Gad! Hab Merci Pan ArWe!
          //Nuff Said Pan Dat!

  2. A very well written piece Madam. In you are the consciousness of our ancestors. Please continue to educate…

  3. For Your Information:
    It is well and good to educate yourself about your past history but don’t do it while wearing ‘rose colored glasses’. Did you know for example that white people never entered the African interior to capture black people for slavery. No, they paid for their slaves whom they bought from black opportunists on the coast. These black slavers were the ones who raided the villages in the African Interior and sold their brothers and sisters to the white people on the ships.

  4. One Thought or Two.
    John French ll used the tool of historical accountability of our actions, what was done, not just analysis of intellectual utterances. In doing this, the standard question will, and should always be: Are your intellectual utterances consistent with, match your actions? The answer to that will always be the eternal measurement of our Caribbean people.

    Respect

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