PJ’s Letter – A Convenient Cuss Out

The average Jamaican seems to believe that any utterance or writing from former prime minister Percival Noel James Patterson is good as gospel…well…for those who subscribe to things gospel. 

His recent letter to British prime minister David Cameron should find the Brit somewhere between wincing and a wry grin for the somewhat direct, but backward suggestions.  Add to that the fact that the man who won the most elections in Jamaica hasn’t quite grasped the philosophy of giving apologies as he has for requesting them and seems to take convenient comfort in things British… while seeking to do away with some politically viable elements.

The Frozen Past

According to Patterson, “Contrary to your view the Caribbean people will never emerge completely from the “long, dark shadow..” of slavery until there is full confession of guilt by those who committed this evil atrocity”.  There are things to challenge from this great academic.


1) Am I to honestly label David Cameron or any other member of his government “…those who committed this evil atrocity..”?  I doubt very much there are slaveowners in the Parliament who can admit to guilt, so I wonder if all white Brits today must be regarded as guilty of the act of slavery and be expected to make a “full confession”.  I suspect Patterson was thinking in a different mind when he wrote these words.

via jamaicaobserver.com
via jamaicaobserver.com

2) The belief by our former PM that the “Caribbean people will never emerge completely” from this dark period in history suggests that an apology from Cameron would set us on the path to ending our regionally divisive circumstances.  Well great Sir, I doubt an apology from any quarters will serve to diminish how we exist within the region.  If after all that has been done politically (and supposedly economically) to bridge the gaps has failed miserably… including the very Caricom in which you played an innings…then it seems the answer to all that lies in the Brits offering an apology for slavery.  This region has done itself an injustice for generations to come by its inability to join together as a powerhouse on the world stage because of many things…slavery would be but the tip.  I guess Germany has managed to still recall and remember the Holocaust while having a decent economy instead of being shackled to their horrific past.

3) Isn’t ironic or even hypocritical that since our independence many who wish to highlight the dark history and stain of the British have also managed to enjoy so many things from said Brits?  The same PJ Patterson who has made no qualms about blackness and the need to sever so many ties with the British still carries the title “Queen’s Counsel”, a title you can refuse by the way.  Also there was no issue with not only having the title “Honourable”, but stepping it up to “Most Honourable”, which I’m sure all can research and see where those titles abound and are shackled …not sounding like a man intent on severing ties with the colonial masters hmmm?

4) As for doing away with the Queen, Governor General, Privy Council and joining the CCJ…are all these things aimed at making Jamaica better or just making sure to cut ties to the colonial masters? Is it so we can “manage our own affairs quite well” and it is time to end it all OR is this yet another attempt to merely strike a sweet political note about white man vs black man?  Should a country make these decisions based merely on “black man time now”?  Well I suspect that’s exactly what we did when we decided on independence, instead of looking at readiness and national interest.  Clearly in this Jamaica 2015 the issue of “dash weh di white man” solely and mainly because he’s white and we’re black still works.  Wonder of some will start by ridding themselves of the shackled titles they enjoy hmmmm?

5) There are too many scandals to list and far too many other issues that Percival Noel James Patterson could/should apologise to Jamaica for while he was PM.  One that is STILL a stain in my mind and thousands of other Jamaicans would be FINSAC.  The mere fact that we talk about the cruelty of slavery by the Brits should remind us how FINSAC destroyed, enslaved, imprisoned and shackled thousands of Jamaican families back into the dark ages.  How Patterson presided over the greatest destruction of the home grown Jamaican business person and fully endorsed Omar Davies every step of the way, reminds me what happens when a black man in a majority black country says, “black man time now” .  It helped to remind that it was indeed the elevated black man who put on the judgement and pressure on his fellow blacks working in the field with the whip constantly cracking.  PJ Patterson wants an apology from Cameron for slavery though he wasn’t a slave owner, but Patterson has never apologised for the capture, enslavement and destruction of black Jamaicans under FINSAC…not surprising.

6) Since apologies seem to work for the former PM maybe it is time we get an apology from him for the 1976 State of Emergency and Green Bay to name a few.  Maybe he should apologise for Nanny being named a national heroine, since the Maroons have a questionable place in the story of slavery.  Maybe Patterson should write to Portia Simpson Miller demanding an apology for her claim to have the “blood of Nanny, which would make her guilty of any atrocities committed by the Maroons during slavery…just like asking Cameron hmmm?  Guilty by association I guess.

7) While I might agree that an apology might be needed, is it that WE didn’t get one from Cameron, but the Germans did why we feel so upset? After all, we didn’t get one all this time long before Cameron.  And am I to believe that we must continue to use slavery as an excuse for our inability to make certain progress as Patterson would so love us to believe?  Jamaica had suffered far more at the hands of politics and the likes of Patterson et al than the memories of slavery could ever do.  Is our public health, housing, lack of social infrastructure, poverty, debt, crime all as a result of successive British PMs to not apologise for slavery?  Will anyone ask the BLACKS who helped to ensure slavery continued for centuries to apologise? Oh well that’s not really ‘history’ right?


8) I find it laughable and greatly hypocritical that a man who believes nothing is a shackle…except slavery…who has never apologised to his own people for HIS personal involvement in so many atrocities meted out to Jamaicans could so conveniently and politically correctly pen a letter to the British PM…then again, Cameron is white and worthy to be cursed and corrected…while we black folk are merely the remnants of slavery, right Mr Patterson Q.C.?  Are we any less worthy of an apology from you?

In all of this I wonder what the great academic mind of Percival Noel James Patterson thinks of an agreement for Britain to send prisoners to Jamaica while offering a sum to help build a prison…who knows, maybe getting an apology from Cameron would make that become yet another issue easily forgotten by the great historian PJ Patterson.

Rodney S. O. Campbell ©

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