AND SO WE COME TO MY THIRD BOOK!
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.