Informal settlers, or Squatters!

From the birth of the peasantry class in Grenada in the year, 1838, this was a new era in our history after one hundred plus years of French rule and two hundred and eleven years of British rule of shackled slavery.

By August 1st, 1838 total freedom came for people of African descendents under the apprenticeship period and who for the first time was free to leave the plantation and established new life while leasing plots of lands throughout the length and breadth of Grenada under a system whereby they would have given five acre plots to be cultivated and gave the landlords sixty percent and they get forty percent.

They were able to establish villages around the plantations as they became free citizen hence many villages were established like Laura Land, La Tante, La Potrie, River Road, Bacolet, Beaten, and many more.

Let us not forget that Slavery started under the French in Grenada since 1674 and it was the same French who had destroyed the Kalinago people or Carib population when they were subdued and leapt over Leaper’s Hill in Sauteurs in 1651, jumping to their deaths by refusing to be under French rule.

The French were in possession of Grenada until 1762 when the island was ceded to British rule under the Treaty of Paris.

The trans-Atlantic slave trade started under the British who moved nineteen million slaves to the new world.

Among the other slave trading nations were the Portuguese, Dutch, and the French.

The ships of these nations made thirty seven thousand voyages across the Atlantic from the African mainland to South, Central and North America and the Caribbean, which was called The New World.

The first ship to sail to the African mainland was mandated by Queen Elizabeth the 1st in the year 1562 – the name of that ship was the “Good Jesus” which was navigated by two of England’s most notorious sailors, Sir John Harkins and Francis Drakes.

The ship carried five hundred African slaves from Sierra Leone to Hispaniola, which was Haiti and Santo Domingo.

The records showed that one hundred and forty five slave ships sank while another one hundred were unaccounted for which was plying the slave trade illegally.

When I think of the nearly two hundred years since slavery ended and the Africans were not paid a cent.

Just image the two hundred planters in Grenada were compensated 616 thousand pounds (£) but not the slaves for their inhumane and degrading treatment.  Even Haiti received reparation from France of twenty one billion dollars.

But after almost two hundred years since slavery had ended the Africans within the British colonies had not received one black cent.

Today when I see a Grenadian of African descendent occupying a little piece of land the first thing we call him is a squatter but let us be mindful that Africans never had a pay day, neither did they receive their great grand father’s back pay.

Quoting from the musical reggae band name Culture, which said when will that payday, be. Today I am calling on the government to please address this burning issue of squatting because there are so many villages occupied by squatters for the past twenty plus years.   They are not regularised – government come and go.

Kennedy Jawahir

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