Thu | Apr 19, 2018

Letter of the Day | Jamaicans pawns at the hands of British

Published:Saturday | March 11, 2017 | 12:00 AM


I stumbled on a letter written by my mother to my father in the 1940s, written during World War II. He was working in an ammunition factory in Atlanta, Georgia, and she was a country girl residing in the hills of Hanover at the time.

She made a chilling statement in the letter when she told my father, "Some of the boys' luggage came to the airport without them." She was referring to Jamaicans killed in battle. Our sons who volunteered to sacrifice their lives for Britain in that war.

Fifteen years later, my eldest brother took a propeller-driven aircraft, presented his birth certificate to British immigration, and entered the United Kingdom. He worked on the roads, toiling in the winter, and providing cheap labour to Britain's developing post-war road network.

Our great grandfather, Edward, was a slave boy when the abeng was blown on August 1, 1838, giving him his freedom.On January 7, 2003, I entered the United Kingdom, upon the mere presentation of my Jamaican passport. The following day (January 8, 2003), Jamaicans were, henceforth, required to apply for visas which are, more often than not, denied to enter the nation of our fellow Commonwealth 'partner', the United Kingdom.

On, March 8, 2017, an aircraft loaded with 32 Jamaican citizens thrown out of, or deported from, the United Kingdom landed here. In September of last year, 42 others landed here, also deported.

I have pointed out, so far, a relationship of abuse during our enslavement, of 'use' during its war with Germany, and our provision of cheap labour thereafter, and finally, today, rejection.

We have been mere pawns at the hands of the British. They, have consistently made such use of us, determined solely by the needs of their economy, from century to century.

The latest prison 'gift' is one such move on their chessboard. This gift reminds me of my, otherwise, stingy neighbour who would invite us boys to take his fallen mangoes when he had too much to dispose of during the heights of mango season.

I end with a line from Trinidadian singer, Singing Sandra, when she said: "Brother, they could keep their money, I go keep my honey, and die with my dignity!"