The Star (St. Lucia) - - BOOK PREVIEW -

My third at­tempt at pub­lish­ing a book has been de­layed for some time, for rea­sons that I need not go in to. It will suf­fice to in­form you, dear reader, that my lat­est ef­fort, en­ti­tled Repa­ra­tions Con­fer­ence, is presently at the STAR Pub­lish­ing Com­pany, go­ing through the fi­nal stages be­fore pub­li­ca­tion. I have there­fore de­cided to do some pre­lim­i­nary ad­ver­tis­ing, as I plan to launch my novella at the end of Novem­ber 2018. The fol­low­ing is a fore­word by my for­mer men­tor, friend and col­league, Cal­ixte Ge­orge, a re­tired re­search of­fi­cer at the Caribbean Agri­cul­ture Re­search and De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute (CARDI) in Trinidad. He was also a re­search of­fi­cer at our own Union Agri­cul­ture Sta­tion.

Cal­ixte writes: “The sub­ject of repa­ra­tions is a very com­plex topic, no mat­ter the con­text—slav­ery, the holo­caust, or the an­ni­hi­la­tion of indige­nous peo­ples. The sub­ject has been with mankind for sev­eral cen­turies with no fi­nal con­clu­sion for pro­tag­o­nists or an­tag­o­nists, vic­tims and per­pe­tra­tors. Pe­ter Josie’s novella should there­fore not be con­strued as his fi­nal po­si­tion on the ques­tion of Repa­ra­tions for Slav­ery. It is my be­lief that Pe­ter is at­tempt­ing to out­line a prob­a­ble method­ol­ogy for dis­cus­sion of the ap­proach that should be taken in un­rav­el­ing the repa­ra­tions is­sue, now be­ing given new promi­nence in the Caribbean since the ad­vo­cacy of Pro­fes­sor Sir Hi­lary Beck­les, Vice Chan­cel­lor of the Univer­sity of the West In­dies, and oth­ers.

“In a way Pe­ter has been dis­pas­sion­ate in the anal­y­sis of repa­ra­tions with the in­ter­ac­tive ap­proach of his main char­ac­ters. He pro­vides a par­tially holis­tic panoramic view from a range of stake­hold­ers: among oth­ers teach­ers, trade union­ists, Rasta­far­i­ans. How­ever, there seems to be a miss­ing link—the per­spec­tive of the mem­bers of the Cham­ber of Com­merce, who many may con­sider to be the most likely lo­cal ben­e­fi­cia­ries from slav­ery. Their per­spec­tive could very well be that lo­cal ben­e­fi­cia­ries have al­ready paid and are con­tin­u­ing to pay their repa­ra­tions debt through pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ment, ed­u­ca­tion schol­ar­ships to the chil­dren of their em­ploy­ees and spon­sor­ship of var­i­ous com­mu­nity and na­tional ac­tiv­i­ties such as Arts fes­ti­vals, etcetera.

“An­other per­spec­tive that could have made the dis­cus­sion even more in­ter­est­ing would be that of his po­lit­i­cal twin brother, Ge­orge Od­lum. Pe­ter Josie was a col­league of Ge­orge Od­lum, with whom he co-op­er­ated in the most ef­fec­tive po­lit­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion of the masses of or­di­nary Saint Lu­cians. Brother Ge­orge, as he was pop­u­larly known, had suf­fered the nor­mal dis­crim­i­na­tion in hous­ing as a stu­dent in Lon­don in the mid1950s. He was res­cued from the lack of both proper hous­ing and food by one of his white lec­tur­ers (one Mrs. Palmer) at Bris­tol Univer­sity, where he read English. It was also Sir Phillip Mor­ris, a white Chan­cel­lor of the Univer­sity of Bris­tol, who ar­ranged for Od­lum, as he put it, “to do a dose of the greats”—Pol­i­tics, Phi­los­o­phy and Eco­nom­ics—at Ox­ford Univer­sity.

“In the cir­cum­stance, Brother Ge­orge might have had an am­biva­lent po­si­tion on repa­ra­tions. Such am­biva­lence may also be shared by the group of young Saint Lu­cians who had mi­grated to the so-called ‘Mother Coun­try’ to fur­ther them­selves through the work-and-study model. Per­haps Ge­orge’s de­bat­ing skills, cou­pled with his con­tin­u­ous search for new ideas, has in­flu­enced Pe­ter to open the door­way for or­di­nary folks to view repa­ra­tions from a well thought out, cal­cu­lated and bal­anced as­pect of its var­i­ous com­po­nents. Pe­ter brings out the com­plex com­po­nents of the repa­ra­tions equa­tion with ob­jec­tiv­ity, and the hope that an am­i­ca­ble so­lu­tion will be found to the sat­is­fac­tion of all con­cerned.

“In that re­gard a com­par­a­tive anal­y­sis of Model So­lu­tions to Repa­ra­tions should be un­der­taken. An ar­range­ment like the Is­raeliGer­manic Agree­ment of 1953 to 1963 may be in­struc­tive. Tom Se­geo, the Is­raeli His­to­rian, in his book ‘Sev­enth Mil­lion,’ out­lines the ben­e­fit of Ger­man Repa­ra­tions to Is­rael. It has been re­ported that the GNP of Is­rael tripled dur­ing the ten years of the agree­ment. Also, repa­ra­tions had the in­dis­putable psy­cho­log­i­cal and po­lit­i­cal ben­e­fit to the Is­raeli peo­ple. As­sess­ing the Repa­ra­tions Agree­ment, Is­rael’s Prime Min­is­ter David Ben-Gu­rion said: ‘For the first time in his­tory of re­la­tions be­tween peo­ple, a prece­dent has been cre­ated by which a great State, as a re­sult of moral pres­sure alone, takes upon it­self to pay com­pen­sa­tion to the vic­tims of the gov­ern­ment that pre­ceded it. For the first time in the his­tory of a peo­ple that has been per­se­cuted, op­pressed, plun­dered and de­spoiled for hun­dreds of years in the coun­tries of Europe, a per­se­cu­tor and de­spoiler has been obliged to re­turn part of his spoil and has un­der­taken to make col­lec­tive repa­ra­tion as par­tial com­pen­sa­tion for ma­te­rial losses.’

“For a fur­ther dis­course on the is­sue of repa­ra­tions, per­haps Pe­ter should con­sult our friend and fel­low Sa­mar­ian (past stu­dent of St. Mary’s Col­lege, Saint Lu­cia), Bernard ‘Binky’ Box­ill, Pro­fes­sor of Phi­los­o­phy at the Univer­sity of North Carolina, who has re­searched and writ­ten on ‘Moral­ity of Repa­ra­tions,’ among his many pub­lished works. Box­ill’s re­search may in­di­cate an­other way for­ward on the mat­ter of repa­ra­tions.”

The book Repa­ra­tions Con­fer­ence is a cre­ation of the imag­i­na­tion and I have clearly stated that fact in its writ­ing. I have ded­i­cated it to the peo­ple of African de­scent who were taken against their will from their African home­land, into the so-called new world. Many of their prog­eny are still search­ing for a home in this new place. The book is also ded­i­cated to those who fight against racism, big­otry and in­jus­tice. More in­for­ma­tion will be given on the elec­tronic me­dia and in this news­pa­per about the ex­act date, time and place of the book’s launch­ing.

Mr. Pe­ter Josie has been a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to this news­pa­per for the last two years. He has also pub­lished Shat­tered Dreams and The Shop­ping List.

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