Tuesday, August 28, 2012

EMMETT TILL JULY 25, 1941 – AUGUST 28, 1955

We know some of the story of African American Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks’ arrest for refusing to give up her seat in the "Colored" section of a Montgomery, Alabama bus to a White man who could not find a seat in the "White" section of the crowded bus. Over the almost 57 years since then (December 1, 1955) there have been various stories written about her reasons including that she was tired after a hard day’s work as a seamstress. However Ms Parks debunked that myth when she said: "I thought about Emmett Till and I could not go back. My legs and feet were not hurting, that is a stereotype. I paid the same fare as others and I felt violated." The impact of the brutal murder on August 28, 1955 of the African American teenager Emmett Louis Till was felt by African Americans of all ages and is considered pivotal in the Civil Rights struggle. Famous African American boxer Muhammed Ali shared his memories of the impact: "Emmett Till and I were about the same age. A week after he was murdered. I stood on the corner with a gang of boys, looking at pictures of him in the black newspapers and magazines. In one, he was laughing and happy. In the other, his head was swollen and bashed in, his eyes bulging out of their sockets and his mouth twisted and broken. His mother had done a bold thing. She refused to let him be buried until hundreds of thousands marched past his open casket in Chicago and looked down at his mutilated body. [I] felt a deep kinship to him when I learned he was born the same year and day I was. My father talked about it at night and dramatized the crime. I couldn't get Emmett out of my mind." Ali and thousands of African Americans had read about and seen the grisly photographs of Till’s gruesomely mutilated body in several issues of African American owned Jet Magazine (September 15 1955, September 22, 1955, September 29, 1955, October 6, 1955, October 13, 1955, November 24 1955, January 26, 1956, June 21, 1956, June 28, 1956 and February 28 1957.) The late celebrated African American lawyer Johnnie L. Cochrane also shared his memories of the impact felt when he heard of Till’s murder: "I was a senior at Los Angeles High School in California. It had a profound affect on me because I understood that it could have happened to any of us. It shook my confidence. It was as though terrorists had struck -- but it was terrorists from our own country. It made me want to do everything I could to make sure this event would not happen ever again." Similar to the murder of 17 year old unarmed African American Trayvon Martin, Till’s lynching garnered international attention (the story of Till’s lynching was reported in the international press including newspapers in Belgium, Germany and France) even though countless African Americans had been lynched by White Americans. For example on May 7, 1955 the Reverend George W. Lee (52 years old) a Baptist minister, grocery store owner and NAACP field worker in Belzoni, Mississippi, was shot and killed at point blank range while driving in his car after making an unsuccessful bid to vote. On August 13, 1955 in Brookhaven, Mississippi, Lamar Smith, another African American man (63 years old) who was a farmer and World War I veteran was shot to death in broad daylight at close range on the lawn of the Lincoln County courthouse in Brookhaven, Mississippi in the presence of several witnesses, after casting his ballot. Both victims had been active in voter registration drives. No one was ever arrested for either murder even though Jet Magazine in its May 26, 1955 issue reported on the lynching of Reverend Lee. There are countless instances of African American men, women and children lynched by white Americans who were never held accountable for these inhumane crimes against humanity. Many of the lynched African American men were accused like the 14 year old Till of looking at White women or just being in the presence of white women.
Emmett Till was a 14 year old African American male born in Chicago on July 25, 1941 the only child of Mamie Till Mobley. During the summer of 1955 Till Mobley sent her son to Money, Mississippi to spend time with her uncle Moses "Mose" Wright. There are differing versions of Till’s interaction on August 25, 1955 with the 21 year old white woman who worked in the neighbourhood grocery store “Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market.” The stories range from Till smiling at the white woman, whistling, winking or merely looking her in the eye all of which apparently were hanging offences in the southern states if you were an African American male. Keith Andre Beauchamp who is the driving force behind the documentary "The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till" launched August 17, 2005 reportedly found during his exhaustive investigation of the case that the white woman was "not the white-lily queen everybody says she was, and it was said that she made up the whole lie to teach husband Roy" – who had left her alone in the store – "a lesson." There are countless instances of African American men throughout the history of the USA who were lynched on flimsy "evidence."
The 14 year old Till was dragged out of the house of his great-uncle Mose Wright around 2:30 a.m on August 28, 1955 kidnapped by Roy Bryant the husband of the white woman (Carolyn Bryant) from the grocery store who had returned from his out of town jaunt. Bryant was accompanied by his older half-brother John William "J.W" Milam and they both dragged Till out of the house despite Wright’s pleading. Three days later on August 31, 1955 Till’s horribly disfigured nude body with a 70 pound industrial fan fastened around his neck with barbed wire was taken out of the Tallahatchie River. The 14 year old had been so brutally beaten and tortured that his face was unrecognizable where he had been shot above the right ear, his nose broken and his right eye gouged out. Surprisingly for that time and place there was a trial where not surprisingly Bryant and Milam were acquitted of the murder of Till. A few months later both murderers gave an interview published in Look Magazine (January 24, 1956) where they admitted to committing the heinous crime against Till. The article entitled “The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi” was written by William Bradford Huie.
It was Mamie Till’s determined advocacy that contributed to a second investigation many decades later. It was also this feisty African American woman’s determination that prevented her son’s body being buried in Mississippi where no one would have seen the evidence of the brutish, barbaric white supremacist culture which permitted and condoned his murder. Instead she fought the system including the sheriff and other Mississippi politicians insisting that her son’s body be returned to Chicago where the world saw what Bryant, Milam and white supremacy had done to her child. In an interview just before she transitioned in 2003 Till Mobley spoke about the day she saw her child’s body: "I looked at the bridge of his nose and it looked like someone had taken a meat chopper and chopped it. And I looked at his teeth because I took so much pride in his teeth. His teeth were the prettiest things I'd ever seen in my life, I thought. And I only saw two. Well, where are the rest of them? They had just been knocked out. And I was looking at his ears, and that's when I discovered a hole about here and I could see daylight on the other side. I said, 'Now, was it necessary to shoot him?'" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAemBpFM1NI and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1fBwUzcqa0)
Mamie Till Mobley never gave up fighting for justice for her only child. On January 3, 2003 she transitioned to be with the ancestors. The men who lynched her child both supposedly died of cancer Milam in 1981 and Bryant in 1994. Carolyn Bryant at 78 years old (born 1934) is still alive and lives somewhere in the USA where according to an article published in New York Times on July 31, 2005 she is guarded by a man who claims to be her son and threatened to kill the writer of the article if he “ever tried to contact his mother.” In 2007, Tallahatchie County issued a formal apology to Till's family which read: "We the citizens of Tallahatchie County recognize that the Emmett Till case was a terrible miscarriage of justice. We state candidly and with deep regret the failure to effectively pursue justice. We wish to say to the family of Emmett Till that we are profoundly sorry for what was done in this community to your loved one."

Friday, August 17, 2012


Jamaica has enjoyed much international publicity lately because of the 50th anniversary of its independence from British rule and the exemplary performance of the Jamaican athletes at the recent Summer Olympics in Britain. However the man who started it all was the Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey who was born 125 years ago on August 17, 1887 in St Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. Garvey who is Jamaica's first National Hero is a descendant of Jamaica's Maroons who fought the British colonizers and enslavers of Africans. Garvey born a mere 49 years after Africans in Jamaica and other British colonies were fully freed from chattel slavery (August 1, 1838) is considered the father of the modern Pan-African movement. At a time when the African continent was being carved up and distributed among European nations there was this African man born in one of the British colonies who was brave, brilliant and determined to unite Africans at home and abroad. His rallying cry: “Africa for the Africans!” It is truly amazing that at a time when Europeans and even some brainwashed Africans in the Caribbean and elsewhere believed implicitly in the superiority of White skin and all it entailed and the inferiority of non-whites that Garvey bravely stepped forward and declared that Africans were the equals of Europeans http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMFZpxeLMT0. Generations later Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at the “Marcus Garvey Memorial” at National Hero Park in Kingston, Jamaica on June 20, 1965 recognized Garvey as: “the first man of color in the history of the United States to lead and develop a mass movement. He was the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny and make the Negro feel he was somebody.” Garvey’s opinions and philosophy which he shared with all who would listen influenced leaders in the international African community as well as other racialized people. It has been written that the Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh was a regular attendee at Garvey lectures in New York City.
Garvey founded an organization that in less than 10 years boasted an international membership of millions located on 5 continents. In a statement published in September 1923 Garvey wrote about the establishment of his organization: “I boarded a ship at Southampton for Jamaica, where I arrived on July 15, 1914. The Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities (Imperial) League was founded and organized five days after my arrival, with the program of uniting all the negro peoples of the world into one great body to establish a country and Government absolutely their own.” Garvey’s influence just in the USA can be traced through various major organizations and leaders. Elijah Muhammad the founder of the Nation of Islam was a member of the UNIA in Detroit and his organization bore many similarities to Garvey’s organization. El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X) was influenced by the teachings of Garvey since both of his parents were local UNIA leaders in Omaha, Milwaukee and Lansing Michigan and it has been said that Garvey visited their home a few times. The late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (first African American to run for President of the USA) was a child of Garveyite parents. Carlos Cooks of the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement was also influenced by Garvey’s philosophies. There are Garveyite symbols and ideas throughout the Black Power Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Garvey’s influence can be seen and felt in the Pan-African movement of the 21st century. Several African leaders over the decades of struggle to free themselves from European oppression and gain independence for their countries acknowledged their debt to Garvey and his opinions and philosophy. Those leaders include Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Nnamdi Azikewe of Nigeria and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya. Versions of Garvey’s red, black and green flag can be seen in the national flag of Kenya, Ghana and the flag of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa. The strong influence of Garveyism on the ANC of the 1920s and 1930s continued in the ANC Youth League of the 1940s and is evident and acknowledged today in the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (South Africa.) Garvey himself wrote: “My name was discussed on five continents. The Universal Negro Improvement Association gained millions of followers all over the world. By August, 1920, over 4,000,000 persons had joined the movement. A convention of all the negro peoples of the world was called to meet in New York that month. Delegates came from all parts of the known world. Over 25,000 persons packed the Madison Square Garden on August 1 to hear me speak to the first International Convention of Negroes. It was a record-breaking meeting, the first and the biggest of its kind. The name of Garvey had become known as a leader of his race.”
In (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRycUbyUhxk) “The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, Vol. X: Africa for the Africans 1923-1945” edited by Jamaican born UCLA Professor Robert A. Hill (published in 2006) Garvey’s unrelenting advocacy to spread the word of Pan-Africanist ideas is chronicled. “After moving to London, Garvey became a regular speaker in Hyde Park. A 1935 observer described his oratorical powers as “magnificent” and noted that he used a good deal of humor and ridicule in defusing opposition from his audience. Garvey left London on August 12, 1937 to conduct the second regional UNIA conference in Toronto, Canada which met in the last week of August. Garvey inaugurated his School of African Philosophy, a training course for UNIA regional officers in the first week of September. He afterward toured Canadian provinces and left Nova Scotia in early October. Arriving in Bermuda on 11 October 1937, he was denied permission to leave the ship. He travelled on to Trinidad, St Lucia, Barbados, St Vincent, British Guiana and again to Barbados, before retracing his return north. He sailed for England from Nova Scotia and arrived back on 20 November 1937.” Garvey’s two day visit in October 1937 to then British Guiana was documented in newspaper articles published by the Daily Argosy which reported that there was a “crowd of nearly a thousand along a distance of over two hundred yards on both sides of the streets.” Garvey had attempted to visit the British colony in 1921 but it was clear from the diplomatic correspondence between British Governors in British Guiana and Jamaica, that he would have been detained had he set foot in the colony that year. However on his visit to British Guiana in 1937 after an enthusiastic welcome at the Bookers wharf he was taken by car to the home of his host, Dr. S.I.T Wills at Lot 190 Charlotte street. Later in the day, Garvey was given a reception at the Georgetown Town Hall where he was greeted with the Ethiopian National Anthem. Garvey also paid a courtesy call on the Governor before proceeding to the Fraternity Hall on Robb Street to address his followers.
During this month (August 2012) Jamaica is celebrating its 50th year of independence from British rule and also celebrating the four gold medals, four silver and four bronze gained at the London Olympics. Pan-Africanists in Jamaica and elsewhere are celebrating the life of a famous Jamaican who brought international attention to Jamaica before Bob Marley, Rastafari and reggae. On August 17 we celebrate the birthday of the Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey. His words are recorded by several actors in sites on youtube including: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aQpmw419xA and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rq_HSDRvYZU&feature=relmfu

Sunday, August 12, 2012


This is the dark time, my love, All round the land brown beetles crawl about The shining sun is hidden in the sky Red flowers bend their heads in awful sorrow This is the dark time, my love, It is the season of oppression, dark metal, and tears. It is the festival of guns, the carnival of misery Everywhere the faces of men are strained and anxious Who comes walking in the dark night time? Whose boot of steel tramps down the slender grass It is the man of death, my love, the stranger invader Watching you sleep and aiming at your dream.
From “Poems of Resistance from British Guiana” by Guyanese poet Martin Wylde Carter (7 June 1927 - 13 December 1997) published in 1954 On July 18 the people of Linden, Guyana were plunged into a nightmarish situation reminiscent of Martin Carter’s poem “This is the dark time, my love.” Three Guyanese men (Shemroy Bouyea 18, Allan Lewis 46 and Ron Somerset 18) taking part in a peaceful protest were killed and 20 men and women wounded by police. Carter’s words “It is the season of oppression, dark metal, and tears. It is the festival of guns, the carnival of misery. Everywhere the faces of men are strained and anxious” seem eerily apt in describing the situation that Lindeners face today in the 21st century in an independent Guyana. When Carter penned those famous words he was describing a Guyana under the yoke of colonial Britain, pre-independence. Carter and other Guyanese urged/agitated for Guyana’s (then British Guiana) independence from Great Britain and he was imprisoned by the colonial government. During his incarceration in 1953 he wrote “Poems of Resistance” which was published in 1954 and included “This is the dark time, my love.” In that poem Carter refers to “the man of death who comes walking in the dark night time, whose boot of steel tramps down the slender grass” and this “man of death” is a “stranger invader, watching you sleep and aiming at your dream.” The “stranger invader” were the British soldiers sent to Guyana by the British government to restore “law and order” while in reality they were there to silence the Guyanese who were demanding independence from the colonial British overlords. The British government was really concerned that the descendants of enslaved Africans and indentured Asians were elected to form a government. Alarmed that their colony would be governed by racialised people, the British invaded the country and the rest is history.
In the case of Linden on July 18, almost three weeks ago the man of death was not a stranger invader but instead Guyanese police and the government is not a colonial government but Guyanese men and women. In 1953 during his incarceration Carter also wrote “I Clench My Fist” describing the resistance to the “stranger invader.”
You come in warships terrible with death I know your hands are red with Korean blood I know your finger trembles on a trigger And yet I curse you – Stranger khaki clad. British soldier, man in khaki careful how you walk My dead ancestor Accabreh is groaning in his grave At night he wakes and watches with fire in his eyes Because you march upon his breast and stamp upon his heart. Although you come in thousands from the sea Although you walk like locusts in the street Although you point your gun straight at my heart I clench my fist above my head; I sing my song of Freedom!
On July 18 the people of Linden did not have to fear an invasion of foreigners from across the sea they were brutalized, traumatized and killed by fellow Guyanese armed with guns wearing the state police uniforms carrying out orders from people who are now refusing to take responsibility. Instead the government of Guyana in a shameful effort to shirk responsibility which is ultimately theirs has tried to shift blame to other political parties. In an official statement released by the Guyana government they blamed the opposition parties for the situation in Linden. Some members of the Linden community have been very vocal in expressing their opinion that the government of Guyana is penalizing the community for overwhelmingly supporting the opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance For Change (AFC) during the 2011 November elections.
At a candle-light vigil held at Queens Park in Toronto on Saturday July 28 Dr. Alissa Trotz professor of Caribbean Studies and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto shed some light on the reason for the July 18 protest http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaxT8RvKwf0. Professor Trotz informed the group of about 100 people that on 18 July police opened fire on unarmed Guyanese holding a peaceful protest in Linden (protesting 800% increases in the cost of electricity to the community) killing three people and injuring 20. We also learnt from Professor Trotz that a Chinese multinational company has been given the right to set the electricity rate for Linden residents. Bosai Minerals Group (Guyana) Inc is a private company from China which has taken over the bauxite mining industry in Demerara, Guyana which was once the purview of the American bauxite giant Aluminium Company of America (Alcoa) and the Demerara Bauxite Company (DEMBA) owned by ALCAN (of Canada), a subsidiary of ALCOA. Professor Trotz who works closely with Red Thread Women's Development Organisation in Guyana is privy to information that many of us at the candle-light vigil were hearing for the first time and urged support for the beleaguered people of Linden who are suffering 70% unemployment in the community. She reminded us that the last time Guyanese had been killed by police was at the Enmore sugar estate on June 16, 1948 and recognized that the Linden Martyrs were killed just one month after a commemoration of the Enmore Martyrs. As happened in 1948 after the colonial government sanctioned the killing of Guyanese workers by the police force this Guyana government is attempting to rationalize the murders. The government and police are fudging the facts which include police use of live rounds and not rubber bullets as had been claimed.
At the funeral for the fallen Guyanese of Linden which was held on August 1st (Emancipation Day) prominent Guyanese lawyer Nigel Hughes (recently elected Chairman of AFC) reportedly said: “I will make one pledge; I pledge to you that this event will not pass unnoticed and I say to you, no justice no peace.” Not to be outdone the leader of the Guyana opposition party in government David Granger reportedly pledged: “We, the PNC/R, will build a monument (at the Wismar shore). This will be the mark where police brutality will stop. I was here and I saw the wounds on the bodies and I knew from my own military experience that it was deliberate and murder. We will continue until you get what you deserve. We will not relent; we will not give up. We are working with civil society and your leaders… those who will refine humanity and refine the dignity of Linden. The struggle of the martyrs will not be in vain.”
The people of Buxton got a jump start on that idea and have already built a monument to honour the more than 450 Guyanese (including the Linden Martyrs) who have been killed by police since 1992. On Friday, August 3, the monument was unveiled in Buxton and the dedication was attended by politicians including opposition leader Granger who reportedly promised: “The day for one party ruling, the day for murders without commission of inquiries, without inquest, came to an end on November 28, 2011 and there will be a commission of inquiry into every single death on this East Coast.” Dr. David Hinds of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) reportedly condemned the Guyana government: “The government is the most brutal government, the bloodiest government, the most bad-minded government in the history of post-colonial days.” A monument to freedom fighters located in Buxton is very appropriate. Buxton which is one of the earliest villages established by Africans who united after slavery was abolished, pooled their money and bought an abandoned plantation on the east coast of Demerara is famous in Guyana’s history for the fearlessness of its people who stood up to the colonial British government in the 1840s.


On July 1, 1867 Canada became a country with four provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. Prior to Confederation where the “British North America Act” (BNA) was produced in January 1867, this Native land on which we live was a British colony. The British government approved the BNA on March 29, 1867 and the Dominion of Canada was born on July 1, 1867. More than 100 years later the other six provinces plus 3 territories became part of Canada (the last was Nunavut in 1999.) In 1982, the BNA was renamed the Constitution Act, 1867. In 1967 Canada celebrated its centennial with a year long party which included the 1967 International and Universal Exposition or Expo 67. As part of the celebration the Canadian government invited/encouraged various ethnic groups to showcase their culture. The contribution of the Caribbean community in Toronto was the Caribana Festival. In 1967 the Caribbean community in Toronto staged the first Caribana, with 8 bands and approximately 1,000 participants which drew about 50,000 spectators. The festival was organized by a group of people from various Caribbean countries but based on the Carnival of Trinidad and Tobago. Reportedly the first discussions for organizing a Caribbean festival took place in a downtown fire hall in 1966. Organizers felt that the common cultural event found in every Caribbean nation was the colourful exuberant tradition of carnival, with the larger than life celebrations in Trinidad and Tobago serving as a model. The long weekend at the beginning of August which coincides with the commemoration of the abolition of chattel slavery was ideal for a celebration. In all the Caribbean countries that were colonized by Britain as well as in Canada the descendants of enslaved Africans celebrate August 1st or August Monday because slavery was abolished on August 1, 1834.
An official organizing body the Caribbean Centennial Committee was founded in 1967 (later renamed the Caribbean Cultural Committee-Caribana in 1969) and the plans for the first Caribana were made. The first Caribana parade began at Varsity Stadium (Bloor Street) on Saturday, August 5, 1967 going east on Bloor Street, south on Yonge Street, then west on Queen Street to City Hall watched by about 50,000 spectators. By 1970 the Caribana parade had been moved to University Avenue and in 1991 it was moved to the CNE Grandstand and Lakeshore Boulevard.
The first Caribana was such a success (the Caribana attendees reportedly set a one-day record for ferry use on the last day of that 1967 celebration) that the authorities realized its money making potential and encouraged the organizers to make it an annual event. From its modest beginning in 1967 the Caribbean Festival has grown into the largest Caribbean festival in North America and the third largest carnival in the world, drawing over 1 million spectators and 250,000 visitors a year and contributing more than 400 million dollars to the Canadian economy. There have been some changes other than the numbers and location. The Caribbean organization which initiated the celebration has been sidelined and the festival has been re-named, branded by a corporate “sponsor.” One thing that has remained the same over the years is that the Caribbean community provides the entertainment and Canadian (mostly white) companies and individuals become wealthier. The hotels, taxi cab companies, restaurants, club owners, vendors, government (police, public transportation etc.,) all make money during the weeks of celebration of the Caribbean festival. The Caribbean community has not benefited from the millions of dollars their talent has brought into this country via the Caribbean Festival that began in 1967 as Caribana. After 45 years of work providing entertainment that has made Toronto the place to be for hundreds of thousands of visitors annually during the August 1st weekend our community is no further ahead financially. The celebration became somewhat removed from its history of resistance and became a visual display of “feathers, floats and flesh” as one white male writer labelled it in an August 1, 2010 article entitled “Caribana Delivers Feathers, Floats, and Flesh.” Unfortunately that is what many people who come to watch the annual celebration see and think they know about Caribbean culture.
The history of the beginning of the Carnival after which the Caribana celebration was modelled has almost been lost in the revelry and the recent rush to claim this “goose that lays the golden eggs.” At the recent “Kwame Ture Memorial Lecture Series 2012” held in Trinidad and Tobago during a panel discussion themed “Reclaiming The Carnival: History of Resilience and Resistance” held at the National Library in Port-of-Spain the Poet Laureate of Trinidad and Tobago Pearl Eintou Springer spoke of a similar concern: “The people don’t have any knowledge of the importance of Carnival and of its roots historically, and its role as an instrument of social expression and social cohesion, and its possibility for transformation and regeneration. The people don’t have knowledge of a people’s ability to survive. There is critical need for the knowledge of the African to be spread in the communities. The knowledge is not only about Carnival. It is not only about critical resistance and retention. It is about a people’s ability to survive after all the challenges...after suffering the worst holocaust. The same people who cursed it and lambasted before are the same people who are embracing it. The Carnival is being taken away from us. The African is being robbed of this Carnival. It is being taken away from us. The Carnival is now being taken away because they (the business sector) are now seeing it as economically relevant. It is now good for them.”
This year there has been some acknowledgement of Caribana’s connection to August 1st Emancipation Day. However I was surprised at the information (or lack) contained in the literature of one of the new sponsors named at the July 17 launch of the Caribbean festival. The documented history of the Demerara Distillers Rum which is a new sponsor contains no acknowledgement of the contribution of enslaved Africans’ unpaid labour to the success of the company. Although the company acknowledges: “Rum has its origin rooted in the years of the sugar plantations. The story of Demerara Rum began in 1670 at a time when almost sugar estate in Guyana had its own distillery each producing its own unique rum through the introduction of the art of distillation. It was here that the foundation of Demerara Rums was laid down. Over the centuries rum production was consolidated under the ownership of the Demerara Distillers Ltd (DDL)” The fact that the company’s operation began in 1670 means that the unpaid labour of enslaved Africans contributed to the success of the company whoever owns it today. Sugar and rum could not have been produced in the Caribbean without the coerced, unpaid labour of enslaved Africans and that needs to be acknowledged. Sugar and its by-product rum which made the fortune of many poverty stricken white men who went to the "colonies" to make their fortune contributed to the wealth of Britain and other European nations as illustrated in this BBC production http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=injqATWMRkM about slavery in Jamaica which was very similar to slavery in Guyana and everywhere that the British exploited and brutalised the Africans they enslaved.
On August 4 when the visitors to the 45th celebration of Caribbean culture gather to watch the spectacle on Lakeshore Boulevard and those playing “mas” in their spectacular costumes most will not know the history of the celebration. It is important that we know the history and share it with our friends and family who travel from various places to celebrate.