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NOT A NEW SYSTEM OF SLAVERY by Sam Odinga

posted 5 Jun 2013, 06:20 by Gerry Kangalee
With reference to the piece by Cecil Paul entitled False Depiction in response to the Indian Arrival story in the Express newspaper. The distortion, using the anachronistic picture I believe was intentional. 

However, Paul's response may (not deliberately) have involved some errors. East Indians began arriving in the Caribbean before 1845!! They began in 1838 but without any contract and so when many were faced with the rigors of estate employment they simply left and took up other opportunities. 
 
To allay the fears of the British Humanitarians an Indentureship system was restarted in 1845. Further, Paul, like others, states that Indentureship was a "new form of slavery". This designation is far from the truth and plays into a convenient historical myth that distorts the nature of slavery as opposed to indentureship. 
 
Slavery was an institution of dehumanisation through the use of cruelty and cultural destruction. The enslaved became property that could be bought and sold. Further, not a single enslaved asked to, nor voluntarily came to the west. 
 
Comparing this with indentured labour as a similar experience is insane and diabolical since it attempts to assume that all victims of both systems had the same or similar experiences and so, in the Caribbean, started from the same place. (Not directed at Paul). 
 
Paul also makes the common error that "slavery" ended in 1834-1838. This was true only for the British Empire. The evil system continued in the other parts of the Caribbean and the Americas up to the end of that century.  
 
East Indian indentureship, however, was a severe form of exploitation. For anyone to celebrate the beginning of the system as a human achievement is a cruel act of self derangement. I agree that it should be acknowledged but from a position of mourning (as Israel Khan once stated), as people recall the initiation of some cruel human event. 
 
Further Readings see:

K.O. Lawrence A Question of Labour.
J.G. La Guerre (ed.) Calcutta to Caroni.
H. Beckles and V Shepherd (ed.) Caribbean Slavery.
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