RE: President Akufo-Addo, Your Visit To Saint Vincent And The Grenadines (SVG)
June 10, 2019
His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
The President of the Republic of Ghana
RE: Your Visit to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG)
We, the undersigned members and supporters of De FrontLine, take pleasure in welcoming you to the shores of our land, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. We recognize, acknowledge and are very much aware of the great traditions of Africa and in particular your own country, Ghana, and the ancestral kinship which we share. We are also cognizant of the role that Ghana, (and in particular the eminent leader and the father of your nation, Kwame Nkrumah) has played in world politics and the reunification of Africa.
We, however, would like to draw to your attention to the fact that we believe that Dr. Ralph Gonsalves extending an invitation to you to address our parliament in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, at this time, is steeped in political opportunism and pre-election gimmickry. Such an invitation, we believe, makes a mockery of and runs counter to any agenda of Pan-Africanism either as an ideology or as a movement. We are cognizant of that which underpins the ideology of Pan Africanism which is the belief that African people both on the continent and in the diaspora, including the Caribbean, share a common history and a common identity. As a movement, we also know that Pan Africanism is grounded on principles such as unity of people of African descent in order to eliminate racial, social, economic and political discrimination and to promote economic, social and political progress on the African continent. Fundamentally, we interpret this to mean that EMPOWERMENT of African people on the continent and in the diaspora is of utmost importance to Pan Africanists the world over. It is against this background that we are particularly perturbed that Dr. Gonsalves should choose you, Your Excellency, who actually represents that African State – Ghana – which is known to have played a very vital role in the promotion of the concepts of pan-Africanism.
Since 2001, much of what Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and his Unity Labour Party regime have stood for is aimed at disempowering and attempting to dehumanize those Vincentians (in a population mostly of African descent) whom they see as either economic or political threat. In fact, these incidents are more akin to empire-building, the setting up of a dynasty, and the preservation of the vestiges of colonialism, which all contribute to the hindrance of economic and social progress for our people.
The most egregious example of the ULP’s anti-Pan African course of action is that of the absolute persecution of the entrepreneur, Leon Samuel, who is more popularly known as Bigger Bigs. In fact, not only does the Bigger Bigs matter fly in face of the tenets of Pan Africanism, as a concept, but it depicts a Dr. Gonsalves (who is known for ‘talking a good talk’, which often hightlights his very acts of mockery and persecution of people of African descent in SVG). Here is just one such example of his eloquence: “slavery … dehumanised productive, self-governing Africans, brutalized them on the plantations, robbed them of their dignity and the value of their labour, and denied them opportunities for socio-economic advancement and equality in the decades after Emancipation. All that and more, constitutes the root of underdevelopment” (THE END OF SLAVERY IN SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES AND OUR COMMEMORATION IN 2012 BY DR. THE HON. RALPH E. GONSALVES PRIME, July 30, 2012).
The political persecution of Bigger Bigs, in many ways, fits exactly as Dr. Gonsalves describes in this instance. Without due process as provided in our constitution and specifically under The Town and Country Planning Act, Bigger Bigs’ Rabacca-based business, Bigger Trucking and Blocks Construction Company Ltd, was closed by Order of the now famous SR&O No: 2 of 2011. At that time, Bigger Bigs’ business was a growing one, worth more than $11 million, and had over 60 workers which included an executive team of nearly all young, black women. Thereafter and with widespread public support which included that of a technical team whose members offered their services pro bono, well-wishers and sympathizers, Bigger Bigs was successful in proving that the claims of environment violation in that SR&O No: 2 of 2011 were simply bogus and that he was singled out for this treatment (purely and simply because he was perceived to be supporting the main opposition party) which amounted to an economic lynching.
Bigger Bigs was an established businessman well before 2001 when the ULP regime came to power and the only sin he had committed was to campaign in the 2010 general elections for the opposition party, the New Democratic Party (NDP). This was made very clear when after that election, key members of the ruling ULP’s hierarchy warned that Mr. Samuel (Bigger Bigs) had to decide whether he wanted to be a businessman or a politician but he could not be both. Noteworthy also is that Mr. Samuel’s grandfather, James Harold Samuel, was the son of an African slave and was among the first slaves to own estates after Emancipation in 1838. Here is the story of Mr. Samuel as narrated by journalist, Kenton Chance of I-Witness News and which illustrates Dr. Gonsalves’ depiction of slavery.
Dr. Gonsalves, being of Portuguese descent and of which he often boasts, is also notorious for playing to the self-loathing attitudes of so many of us of African descent so that he can look more “handsome” and “suitable” than his opponents to rule SVG. In this multi-island state, 80% of its 100,000 population is of African Descent (black), 20% mixed African-European descent, 1.4% of East Indian and 1.4% Portuguese and other whites. Here is an instance which is referred to in an online newspaper article “Gonsalves said that if he and Eustace (the then parliamentary leader of the opposition) were walking in the middle of the night and chanced upon then U.S. President George Bush, Bush would greet him and ask who is that man (Eustace). In fact, Dr. Gonsalves has made a number of nasty, insulting, racist remarks about the Honourable Arnhim Eustace” ( http://www.iwnsvg.com/2014/03/24/the-blackest-pm-in-st-vincent/ ) Further, in the eyes of many, the records will show that during the last election and from an election campaign rostrum, Dr. Gonsalves likened himself to Jesus Christ and Mr. Eustace to Barabbas when upon recounting the Biblical story where the people were asked to choose between Jesus Christ and Barabbas. Interestingly, Dr. Gonsalves explained further that “Barabbas was a violent man. He was not lily-white at all. …”. ( https://www.iwnsvg.com/2015/04/28/gonsalves-ulp-should-be-assured-of-election-victory-but/ ). Noteworthy, too, is the fact that Mr. Eustace who does not usually respond to these racists representations coming from Dr. Gonsalves, subsequently responded during a parliamentary debate on Domestic Violence by saying that he took Gonsalves’ reference to Barabbas as meaning him (Eustace) and the party which he led: the New Democratic Party. Eustace declared further “Barabbas was not accused of rape.” ( https://www.iwnsvg.com/2015/05/08/eustace-responds-to-gonsalves-barabbas-was-not-accused-of-rape/ ). Mr. Eustace was referring to various allegations of rape and sexual assault brought mainly by black women against Dr. Gonsalves; allegations for which he has never been to court to clear his name.
Please note, too Your Excellency, that the Hon. Arnhim Eustace was the leader of the parliamentary opposition party, the NDP in SVG. Mr. Eustace has often expressed his pride in his African ancestry and notes that his children and grandchildren all bear African names. Also, Mr. Eustace is a development economist of repute, ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnhim_Eustace ).
Your Excellency, apart from overseeing what many believe was a rigged election, we also believe that Dr. Gonsalves’ constant use of anti-black, anti-African stereotypical references to Mr. Eustace who is an African like yourself was an attempt to make him unelectable. Dr. Gonsalves labeled him (this proud and accomplished development economist and family man) as “ugly”, “useless” more “looking like Barabbas” and not of prime minister material. The fact is, Mr. Eustace gave up an offer of a top executive position with The Commonwealth of Nations to return home to serve his people. Further, the current Speaker of the House of Parliament, Jomo Thomas, once said “When we join Gonsalves and use words like dotish, silly and lazy to describe Eustace, are we not perpetuating the myth of black leaders as unintelligent?” (The Vincentian (newspaper), October 2, 2012)
It is in this vein, therefore, that we contend that Dr. Gonsalves’ invitation to you at this time is self-serving and does not serve the values of Pan-Africanism. Of more concern is that you would be addressing a parliament with a Prime Minister of Portuguese descent (Dr Gonsalves) who considers himself looking more like Jesus Christ and among the members sitting in opposition will be The Hon. Arnhim Eustace looking like you and whom Dr. Gonsalves likened to the Biblical murderer Barabbas.
Further and since many of us who are genuine Pan Africanists might be held and kept at bay from you during your visit, we wonder whether you would accept an invitation to meet with us who are sincere about promoting the understanding of Pan Africanism: the unity of the African peoples in the struggle against imperialism, for abolition of the vestiges of colonialism, and for economic and social progress. We gratefully await your response in this regard and hope that you will one day return.
for and on behalf of
Members and Supporters of De FrontLine
Endorsed by: 61 individuals (names withheld for the press)