Sun | Jun 20, 2021

How will history judge us?

Published:Thursday | November 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM


In the struggle for social justice, today's criminals can become tomorrow's heroes depending on who are the victors or historians. Nelson Mandela is a classic example. Whose story is often recorded as the official version of history? That of the oppressed, or that of the oppressors? Is the use of violence ever justified to further a cause, whether by the discontented to protest against social injustices, or when deployed by the state to crush dissent and uprising or simply to restore order?

The historic Tivoli turbulence in 2010 is a case in point. In what category does it fall, and to whom will history be sympathetic? Residents of Tivoli Gardens and members of the security forces gave contrasting and contradicting testimonies at the Tivoli Commission of Enquiry.

In reference to May 2010, I chose the neutral term 'Tivoli turbulence' to depict what was a significant but most controversial occurrence in modern Jamaican history. Terms like 'incursion' or 'invasion', and 'uprising' are easily accepted or rejected depending on political biases or personal views. 'Tivoli turbulence' may be viewed similarly.


A peaceful march


Worthy of note, also, is the 150th anniversary of the Morant Bay Rebellion, deemed by different historians as the Morant Bay Uprising, Morant Bay Civil War and the Morant Bay War. Deacon Paul Bogle then, (now a National Hero), in 1865 led the people of the east in a march to protest against the oppression meted out to the black masses by the white plantocracy of the day. How did the ruling class view this march? Our history has recorded it as a peaceful march.

It is quite instructive to note the views of an eminent Jamaican judge, regarding Bogle's peaceful historic march which was brutally crushed by the colonial masters. This eminent judge in reflecting on the injustices and the oppression of blacks during that period, expressed recently in a radio interview that he did not know but hoped that violence was on the minds of Bogle and his followers.

Violence is either abhorred or supported. Many burning political and social issues need to be addressed. Whatever version of history is accepted, our turbulent historic occurrences should serve as catalysts for serious soul searching to ensure political and social renewal.

Morant Bay in 1865, labour riots in 1938, and Tivoli 2010 - what may be next?

Daive R. Facey