Categorized | Education, Local, News, OECS, Regional

Montserrat – History Reflections

with Teacher Edith Duberry

Edith Duberry

It is the 3rd day of the St. Patrick’s Heritage Festival on Montserrat. The events include: a National Service at the St. Patrick’ s Roman Catholic Church in Look Out and the 20th edition of the Junior Calypso Competition organized by the Montserrat Union of Teachers, MUT. Let us focus on another aspect of our history. (10/3/2019)

Our ancestors were kidnapped in most cases from Africa. Even some leaders of tribes were paid to enslave their own people and keep them in storage to be sold later.

What a heinous crime! They were split up and sold to masters in various Caribbean islands and other places. Slaves were introduced to Montserrat in the early 1650’s and the Dutch agents were the suppliers.

According to Sheridan, 1974, there were about 9,834 slaves on Montserrat in 1775. It must be noted that slaves were encouraged to dance while they were coming through the Trans-Atlantic Passage.

Some of them were brought on deck to show their skills and to exercise. If they did well, they were thrown a piece of sweet meat and slaves would stamp on it to claim ownership. This has been upgraded to coins. Have you observed how the masquerades stamp on the coins?

There were estates on Montserrat and these were located at Waterworks, Brodericks, Frye’s, Hermitage, Weekes, Farrell’s, Richmond Hill, Bransby, Paradise and other areas. There were sugar mills at Barzey’s, Baker Hill, Forgathy, Sweeney’s, Cork Hill, Manjack and other places.

However, the slaves never gave up their desire to be free because they were regarded as chattel, mere commodities and machinery to make Massa rich and intimately satisfied. That is why they planned the rebellion for March 17, 1768.

The idea was for the slaves at Government House to seize the swords and those who were on the surroundings would use any weapon to create havoc.

This day was chosen as, the slaves knew that their masters would be drunk and very vulnerable. Unfortunately, a white woman who was also a seamstress overheard the conversations. She questioned a slave woman about the matter and she unveiled the whole plan.

It should be noted that probably the slave woman was afraid or maybe she was given some free rum or promised a reduction on the cost of her new dress. The white woman was called Miss Katie, according to my grandmother, Margaret “Peggy” Browne.

The nine ring leaders were executed and thirty others were tried, found guilty and deported to other islands. It was a very sad day. However, even though the rebellion did not take place, we regard those who suffered as freedom fighters, trailblazers and National Heroes.

They ignited the flames for freedom. It must be noted that the Cudjoe who was involved with 17/3/1768 is not the same Cudjoe who was lynched at Cudjoe Head. As time rolled on, other leaders emerged like another Cudjoe, Cuffy, Equiano, Sufia and Bridget & Hannah Woods, George Wyke and Edward Parson.

Before our ancestors came to the Caribbean and other places, they worshipped nature. e.g. the sun, rivers. Their masters introduced them to the Supreme and taught them to be docile and turn the other cheek.

Many of them had to sit on the bench under the tamarind tree in St. Anthony’s Churchyard because they could not worship in the chapel. The slaves involved themselves in various types of rituals and cults because they wanted a better life by breaking the shackles of slavery. The drum was very important in achieving this but it was banned at certain times.

However, the slaves played their drums deep in the mountains and sang folk songs. Moreso, their counterparts from Guadeloupe used to visit on weekends. They came through a tunnel, played their drums and carried lights on sticks.

About two years after the planned rebellion, there was a false alarm of another rebellion and the sixteen persons who were accused were found innocent. The slave owners were frightened and encouraged the jurors to find them innocent in order to still the waters.

The Governor of the day, William Woodley was happy with the verdict.

The slaves left a mark on religion so we note: drumming, rituals, Jumbie Dance, scanting , songs, woo-woo drum, Voodoo, Orisha works, Pocomania, Santeria, Umbanda, Xango, Candomble and Bantuque.

The prejudice against the slaves never ended and the slave well at Dando in Cork Hill is a reminder. Slave women were so fed up with the situation that they performed abortions to ensure that no more people were enslaved.

Some slaves developed a “crab in a barrel mentality” and some of them reported on many secrets so that they would gain the favour of the planter class. Our people were programmed to hate each other!

Our ancestors were pushed to ignore their indigenous culture and adopt the white man’s way of life.

Yet, we have many African legacies to hold onto e.g. (1) our dressing: multi-coloured clothes, headties, long skirts, robes, dashiki, make-up, tattooing, body art, African attire. (2) The slaves made their own wattle and daub houses, stone ovens, pit latrines, calabash utensils, cassava mills and more. (3) Language: words like nyam, babble, buckra, sensed fowl, dutty, cocobay. mummy, nyampi, Pidgin language and dialect.

In 2019, are we still wondering if we have an African legacy? Are we still masquerading to the beat of the white man’s whip? Join me again tomorrow for another episode of reflection.

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with Teacher Edith Duberry

Edith Duberry

It is the 3rd day of the St. Patrick’s Heritage Festival on Montserrat. The events include: a National Service at the St. Patrick’ s Roman Catholic Church in Look Out and the 20th edition of the Junior Calypso Competition organized by the Montserrat Union of Teachers, MUT. Let us focus on another aspect of our history. (10/3/2019)

Our ancestors were kidnapped in most cases from Africa. Even some leaders of tribes were paid to enslave their own people and keep them in storage to be sold later.

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What a heinous crime! They were split up and sold to masters in various Caribbean islands and other places. Slaves were introduced to Montserrat in the early 1650’s and the Dutch agents were the suppliers.

According to Sheridan, 1974, there were about 9,834 slaves on Montserrat in 1775. It must be noted that slaves were encouraged to dance while they were coming through the Trans-Atlantic Passage.

Some of them were brought on deck to show their skills and to exercise. If they did well, they were thrown a piece of sweet meat and slaves would stamp on it to claim ownership. This has been upgraded to coins. Have you observed how the masquerades stamp on the coins?

There were estates on Montserrat and these were located at Waterworks, Brodericks, Frye’s, Hermitage, Weekes, Farrell’s, Richmond Hill, Bransby, Paradise and other areas. There were sugar mills at Barzey’s, Baker Hill, Forgathy, Sweeney’s, Cork Hill, Manjack and other places.

However, the slaves never gave up their desire to be free because they were regarded as chattel, mere commodities and machinery to make Massa rich and intimately satisfied. That is why they planned the rebellion for March 17, 1768.

The idea was for the slaves at Government House to seize the swords and those who were on the surroundings would use any weapon to create havoc.

This day was chosen as, the slaves knew that their masters would be drunk and very vulnerable. Unfortunately, a white woman who was also a seamstress overheard the conversations. She questioned a slave woman about the matter and she unveiled the whole plan.

It should be noted that probably the slave woman was afraid or maybe she was given some free rum or promised a reduction on the cost of her new dress. The white woman was called Miss Katie, according to my grandmother, Margaret “Peggy” Browne.

The nine ring leaders were executed and thirty others were tried, found guilty and deported to other islands. It was a very sad day. However, even though the rebellion did not take place, we regard those who suffered as freedom fighters, trailblazers and National Heroes.

They ignited the flames for freedom. It must be noted that the Cudjoe who was involved with 17/3/1768 is not the same Cudjoe who was lynched at Cudjoe Head. As time rolled on, other leaders emerged like another Cudjoe, Cuffy, Equiano, Sufia and Bridget & Hannah Woods, George Wyke and Edward Parson.

Before our ancestors came to the Caribbean and other places, they worshipped nature. e.g. the sun, rivers. Their masters introduced them to the Supreme and taught them to be docile and turn the other cheek.

Many of them had to sit on the bench under the tamarind tree in St. Anthony’s Churchyard because they could not worship in the chapel. The slaves involved themselves in various types of rituals and cults because they wanted a better life by breaking the shackles of slavery. The drum was very important in achieving this but it was banned at certain times.

However, the slaves played their drums deep in the mountains and sang folk songs. Moreso, their counterparts from Guadeloupe used to visit on weekends. They came through a tunnel, played their drums and carried lights on sticks.

About two years after the planned rebellion, there was a false alarm of another rebellion and the sixteen persons who were accused were found innocent. The slave owners were frightened and encouraged the jurors to find them innocent in order to still the waters.

The Governor of the day, William Woodley was happy with the verdict.

The slaves left a mark on religion so we note: drumming, rituals, Jumbie Dance, scanting , songs, woo-woo drum, Voodoo, Orisha works, Pocomania, Santeria, Umbanda, Xango, Candomble and Bantuque.

The prejudice against the slaves never ended and the slave well at Dando in Cork Hill is a reminder. Slave women were so fed up with the situation that they performed abortions to ensure that no more people were enslaved.

Some slaves developed a “crab in a barrel mentality” and some of them reported on many secrets so that they would gain the favour of the planter class. Our people were programmed to hate each other!

Our ancestors were pushed to ignore their indigenous culture and adopt the white man’s way of life.

Yet, we have many African legacies to hold onto e.g. (1) our dressing: multi-coloured clothes, headties, long skirts, robes, dashiki, make-up, tattooing, body art, African attire. (2) The slaves made their own wattle and daub houses, stone ovens, pit latrines, calabash utensils, cassava mills and more. (3) Language: words like nyam, babble, buckra, sensed fowl, dutty, cocobay. mummy, nyampi, Pidgin language and dialect.

In 2019, are we still wondering if we have an African legacy? Are we still masquerading to the beat of the white man’s whip? Join me again tomorrow for another episode of reflection.