Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Pryce clashes with Vaz during reparation debate

Published:Thursday | November 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Member of Parliament Raymond Pryce
Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz
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WEST PORTLAND Member of Parliament (MP) Daryl Vaz on Tuesday incurred the wrath of fellow legislator Raymond Pryce after he suggested he cut short a story about his encounter with Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II.

Pryce, while contributing to a debate on a motion for the payment of reparations, which was brought by Mike Henry, was relating his story to the House when Vaz told him to cut it short. Vaz further said, "Yuh too dumb to go around the princess".

Vaz, apparently having heard enough of the story, asked, "Wi affi go through all of this?"

Pryce responded, saying that legislators had to endure Vaz's laborious presentation in the House last Tuesday when he posed questions to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on the Outameni experience purchase.

A protesting Vaz said Pryce's story was too much, only for the first-time MP to shoot back saying, "The discomfort that some are now showing is a confirmation of how uncomfortable we are in this country when people of a certain background assert their right for equality in this Jamaica."

The North East St Elizabeth member of parliament recalled being in India in 2007 at a commonwealth workshop as a special guest. Pryce said the day in question was the exact anniversary of the bicentenary of the abolition of the trade in slavery by the British Empire. He said, having been engaged by the Princess Royal, it dawned upon him that he had a greater responsibility than to exchange pleasantries.

"I said to her, isn't it coincidental that you, the descendant of those who enslaved us, are speaking to me, a descendant of those you enslaved on this, the exact anniversary, 200 years hence, of the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade in enslaved Africans," Pryce recalled.

And then for the response.

"I think the term coloured would have best applied to the Princess Royal, because she changed through several shades of grey, back to her normal complexion, and then to a colour just a little lighter than the tie you are wearing," Pryce said.

Speaker Michael Peart, whom Pryce was addressing, was wearing a wine red necktie.

He said, "having grappled for her composure, the princess asked, 'Is it indeed that day?'"

Awkward situation

"There was some discomfort and she managed a conversation around the transatlantic slave trade which was not one of her talking points. That evening, I was invited, as some of the other scholars were, to a state banquet in her honour," Pryce recalled.

He said that the princess addressed the banquet saying:

"It took the young scholar from Jamaica to remind us that we are at the soul of all of us, equal people, born by the creation of our father, whether you call him God or Allah ... and I use this opportunity to acknowledge that some of my forebears participated in an activity that endangered the forefathers of many of you in what is now known as this Commonwealth of nations."

The National Reparation Commission has tabled a report on reparation in the Parliament, recommending among other things that the Government consider seeking a debt write-off from countries which benefited from the transatlantic slave trade. Using the calculations of economic historian David Richardson, it is estimated that the total monetary reparations owed by Britain to its former colonies is £7.5 trillion.

Pryce said Jamaica cannot afford to ignore the issue of reparation saying that slavery has done a tremendous destruction to Africans and their descendants brought to the West Indies.

"Notwithstanding our incomplete issues of an internal reparation, where we as Jamaicans have practised unkindness, unfairness and inequity against other Jamaicans, I believe that we must establish, not just the support for the member's motion, but a new determination within the society that we will deal with reparation within the society as well as advance for global reparation against the horrid crime of slavery," Pryce said.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com