SLAVERY WAS NOT ALWAYS ABOUT BLACKS

white-slavesMuch attention and condemnation has been directed towards the tragedy of the African slave trade, which took place between the 16th and the 19th centuries. However, another equally despicable trade in humans was taking place around the same time in the Mediterranean.  It is estimated that up to 1.25 million Europeans were enslaved by the so-called Barbary corsairs, and their lives were just as pitiful as their African counterparts. They have come to be known as the white slaves of Barbary.

Slavery is one of the oldest trades known to man. We can first find records of the slave trade dating back to The Code of Hammurabi in Babylon in the 18th century BCE. People from virtually every major culture, civilization, and religious background have made slaves of their own and enslaved other peoples. However, comparatively little attention has been given to the prolific slave trade that was carried out by pirates, or corsairs, along the Barbary coast.

Anyone traveling in the Mediterranean at the time faced the real prospect of being captured by the Corsairs and taken to Barbary Coast cities and being sold as slaves.

However, not content with attacking ships and sailors, the corsairs also sometimes raided coastal settlements in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, England, Ireland, and even as far away as the Netherlands and Iceland.  They landed on unguarded beaches, and crept up on villages in the dark to capture their victims.  Almost all the inhabitants of the village of Baltimore, in Ireland, were taken in this way in 1631.  (Ancient Origins)

The Barbary slave trade (White Slave trade) flourished on the Barbary Coast of North Africa between the 15th and 19th centuries. This area is modern-day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and western Libya. European slaves were captured by Barbary pirates in raids on ships and coastal towns from Italy to Spain, Portugal, France, England, the Netherlands, Ireland and Iceland.

Men, women, and children were captured, to such a devastating extent that vast numbers of seacoast towns were abandoned. During the 13th and 14th centuries, Christian pirates, primarily from Catalonia and Sicily posed a constant threat to merchants. But the Barbary corsairs became menaces with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century.

Slaves in Barbary could be black, brown or white, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish or Muslim. And the corsairs were not only Muslim, there were English privateers and Dutch captains.

galley-slaves-barbary-corsairsMany slaves died on the ships during the long voyage back to North Africa due to disease or lack of food and water. Those who survived were taken to slave markets where they would stand for hours while buyers inspected them before they were sold at auction.

Men were assigned to hard manual labor in quarries or for heavy construction, while women were used for housework or in sexual servitude. At night the slaves were put into prisons called ‘bagnios’ that were often hot and overcrowded.

The worst fate for a Barbary slave was being assigned to man the oars of galleys. Rowers were shackled where they sat, and never allowed to leave. Sleeping, eating, defecation and urination took place at the seat. Overseers would crack the whip over the bare backs of any slaves considered not to be working hard enough.

Europeans sometimes attempted to buy their people out of slavery, but no real system emerged before around 1640. Corsair activity began to diminish in the latter part of the 17th century, as the more powerful European navies forced pirates to cease attacking their shipping. In the 19th century, the United States of America and some European nations began to fight back more fervently against the Barbary pirates.

Algiers was frequently bombarded by the French, Spanish and Americans. After an Anglo-Dutch raid in 1816 on Algiers, the corsairs were forced to agree to terms which included a cessation of the practice of enslaving Christians, although slave trading of non-Europeans was allowed to continue.

“One of the things that both the public and many scholars have tended to take as given is that slavery was always racial in nature,” said historian Robert Davis, author of Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy. “But that is not true,” he added.

In comments which may stoke controversy, Davis claims that white slavery had been minimized or ignored because academics preferred to treat Europeans as evil colonialists rather than as victims. (Ancient Origins)

slavesThe notion that slavery is or was an attrition of humanity remains a subject matter that is moot to different scholars. Indeed the term ‘slavery’ has and still is a word that connotes deep resentment for many as it conjures a picture of tortuous pain and suffering against the refusal of those enslaved to wishes forced upon them.

In the period of the Barbary trade, people were captured and forced to work and were made to suffer inhumane circumstances. Muslims, Africans as well as other mercenaries were involved in this business It was purely economic by those involved and not always attached to a racist umbilical cord. Indeed many of the great cities, monuments and wonders of the world were built by’ slave labor’. And not all ‘slaves’ were treated inhumanely either.

“In both Egypt and Rome, slaves were actually treated quite well if they behaved. They were provided food, shelter, clothing and protection in return for them service. Additionally, in ancient Greece, a slave could actually work his or her way out of servitude and become a property, and even business, owner. In fact, the Greeks had a far different view of slaves and slavery. You weren’t automatically a lesser person just because you were a slave. And capitol crimes such as murder were handled differently. If a person murdered another, the murderer was sentenced to seven years of indentured servitude to the family of the victim. This isn’t to say that the murderer might not meet with an untimely demise, but slavery, in general, has had a very long existence and encompassed a multitude of both cultures and races.’ Scruffy Nerfherder

Regardless of which side of the spectrum you stand, restricting freedom, forcing labor, working under inhumane conditions and declaring that you ‘own’ a person just by the very nature of ‘buying’ them as you would a pound of meat, is wrong. Similarly employing persons under similar conditions is equally wrong, no matter how much you try and cloak it with so called ‘incentives’. This article attempted to show that slavery did not start with or end in Africa.  Indeed slavery is as old as humanity. Denying persons of their humanity is denying the person’s  existence.
Eckhart Tolle was quoted to say.. “Dogmas are collective conceptual prisons. And the strange thing is that people love their prison cells because they give them a sense of security and a false sense of ‘I know.’ Nothing has inflicted more suffering on humanity than its dogmas.”
The dogma that drives humanity to slavery is a tumor that is still very much malignant. There are treatments but it rears its ugly head frequently. Historians highlight what they deem necessary but knowing our history will make us aware of both the past and that history always has a way of repeating itself. It is for us to monitor, check, account and evade.

Sources: Thanks NeoMakeba for original post / Ancient Origins

RED FLAG TO FIFA, YELLOW FLAG TO JFF

IFASo FIFA was issued a Red Flag on corruption charges that seems to have its roots from the CONCACAF region of the Federation of which Jamaica is a part.

The investigations seems tight, not air tight as they are still unfolding. There is a saying where there is smoke, there is fire. The allegation of corruption has been alive for years and the awarding of Qatar of the 2022 World Cup brought those flames of corruption burning higher than before.

Qatar’s 2022 has come under worldwide pressure as allegations of human rights, slavery as well as deadly work conditions pile like refuse on the organizing committee. In the latest episode of Qatar’s disregard for human rights, they refused to allow Nepalese workers to return home to attend the funerals after their country’s deadly earthquake.

Surely such draconian decisions do not fare well with the world’s favorite game. FIFA has been quiet on these allegations and artist have now chided corporate sponsors in the wake of their seeming consent by silence of the atrocities. They have re-created their logos with visual images of human slavery and suffering . VISA is one such sponsor

VISAHYUNDIECorporate sponsors HYUNDIE and  VISA have come under criticism for their support of Qatar.

The corruption goes deeper than what it appears on the surface and it will be interesting to see who else is indicted as the case unfolds.

As Jamaica is a part of the region indicted and we all know the Jamaica federation has its own troubles, let us hope the administration gets its book in order and not be so careless as to root whatever there is to root, through the US financial system as surely if there are improprieties, they will be uncovered.

Indeed there are many that accuse the local federation of its own transparency as it relates to its own administration and the way a national team is selected. The JFF receives a lot of support from sporting organizations worldwide in many aspects of its football objectives and the corruption today uncovered not only deals with bribery of FIFA’s internal affairs but also of sporting companies that are involved with the payout of millions of dollars to solicit deals.

Let us hope that the local officials are as clean as a whistle as it relates to the multi million dollar bribery scheme that sees the greasing of palms here and there, nepotism flourishing over here and over there , all at the expense of the people that love the game.

We can hope and we can dream. The reality is corruption is like a snow ball, once it starts it keeps rolling. If our federation is free from corruption, then let them be free to operate with an open conscience. But if, like the CONCACAF President and others charged , our federation is also tainted with bribes at the cost of the blood of football fans in our country, then let them be on notice that they too should also face the red flag , and they will be investigated, charged and made to answer not by the people, but to the people of Jamaica and the world.

The accused in the bribery

the accused

Is Bolt a Legend?

The London 2012  games are officially over. Its been 17 days and the world has been drawn to athletics. 17 days when those who are highly favored got the  chance to actually see the games in person and for those who were not so fortunate sat glued to their television sets , myself included . For 17 days we did not move except to take a shower and do the obligatory thing of eating something before we sit and  die before the TV.

The Olympics brings one thing to the viewer- a spectacle of human strength. We sit in awe and watch fellow humans stretch the limits of human boundaries to accomplish feats the the average Joe Blow can only dream of doing. The furthest he will go is pressing the button on the remote. Thats his version of human accomplishment. We sit in awe and we cheer our hearts out when the athletes go higher, faster and stronger than their competitors. We are in love with the TV and with our human self.

Growing up we always heard our parents speak of great stories of human accomplishment. A a Jamaican I never knew who Jessie Owens was but my parents told me what he did in the face of adversity. The story they told me fascinated me at a young age and they spoke of this man having paved the way for black athletes to compete. I was also told of Herb McKinley and Arthur Wint the 2 Jamaican athletes who themselves went to London and did the impossible. From a small island they won the 100 yards and 440 yards at the time. Those were fascinating stories for a young man at the time. Growing up Donald Quarrie, another sporting personality set his mark by wining the 200m in the Olympics the only athlete from Jamaica them to do so. These men from an early age inspired me to take up track and developed a love for it to this day . the stories were inspiring, uplifting and proved that it was possible to accomplish the impossible. They were our local legends that every young man wanted to be like.

We grow up in many places, in our homes , our churches, our extended families and in our schools and in every sector of the society we come across some legendary feats that remain with you forever. In my college years the stories were too vast and too many legends were born out of my College years. My headmaster affectionately called Jango, his vice principal who we were all in awe with his flawless circle drawn by hand in our maths class. Mr Dibbs is a legend. Not to mention the beating our school managed to give other schools in teack and filed and football. Those days were legendary. They actually happened and we can tell our children  of those feats.

Jump to 2012 and there are questions and debates on  Usain Bolt. Is he a legend? That question is like asking if the sun shines in jamaica? People like to complicate simple things. We tend to forget everything that ever happened in the past . To document Usain Bolt’s life is like rewriting history. That is already documented and can be read by anyone who chooses to do so. But the question of him being a legend simple stops me in my track.

Bolt appeared on the scene from he was 17 years old and very few people took notice. Not until 2008 when the world saw this tall athlete smashed the world records in all sprint disciplines and took notice. 4 years later amidst lots of adversity he came back to the world’s largest stage and repeated the feat he set 4 years earlier. He ended with a world record.

Bolt was the first man to do 9.5 in 100m sprinting, a feat most people thought impossible. He went further and set a new 200m mark stunning everyone who witnessed it. He then anchored his team in the 4x100m relay to a world record. 80,000 people stood in awe to watch this man run. The entire world stopped and watch him race. He is the only man in jamaica that stopped production for 10 seconds. He single handedly took on the powerful USA and turned their track programme to dust. He was so fast that no one on the planet could beat him when he puts his mind to it. And he proved it twice. Yes son Bolt did these things in 2008 and 2012 and he had the world as his oyster and the world had him as their fantasy. Thankfully he is alive. Go on line and see his races.

That was me talking to my son telling him of the legendary tales of Usain Bolt.  He inspired me then and he inspired my son now. His stories actually happened. so the question being asked is quite simply dumb founded and one cannot help but think that he is a victim of his own fame. A man does not have to die to be a legend. There are many persons writing their legacy now and who are already legends. Barack Obama, Portia Simpson, Nelson Mandela, Tiger Woods to name a few. They are legends thankfully living inspiring others to take their lead.

People are talking now about Bolt both his enemies and his friends. The unfortunate thing is words of thanks from his fellow men  may not be a free giving as it should be. He has given himself to humanity and there are those who still question him. That is the sign of true greatness and human weakness. Bolt name is written in the pages of the history books as the first of all men to do the impossible. His name will go down in history as being the tallest fastest man in his time and from the look of things it could be a while before another legend comes of age. One thing is certain, BOLT IS A LEGEND. We hope we see many more of him to satisfy our lust for greatness. Greatness is starting something that lives after you. Bolt has started a revolution in track and field that will outlast him. Frankly  it does not seem it will be rewritten for a long , long time. Ask yourself this question, will you be talking about him now or anytime soon? If the answer is yes then he is already a legend, you just don’t want to admit it!

THINGS I LIKE ABOUT THE OLYMPICS SO FAR

 

The London 2012 Olympics although no Beijing in terms of scale, scope and budget is steeping up to setting a few first in the hosting of the games. To mount such a spectacle is no mean feat. That in itself deserves an Olympic medal. And as usual nothing could ever be possible without those persons that are simply called The Volunteers. In every Olympics the Volunteers are the stars of the event . The thousands of them that do it all for self and country is a true testament to the Olympic spirit. Well done London like every country before them that has hosted the games. Now lets turn to the nice things so far in the Olympics after some 5 days.

The FIRE CAULDRON. The Barcelona games is by far the BEST ever produced lighting of an Olympic  flame  period. No one can forget the dramatic crescendo of the single archer and his lighted bow and with one stretch of the arrow lit the torch. it was dramatic. But London went a step further.  If you noticed during the parade of teams  there was an added volunteer with a brass holder in the parade . I was wondering what was their role, maybe it was to place the flag pole in the vessel. No, not so. They were the actual cauldrons for each country that would eventually make up the Olympic cauldron. THAT was special ,unique and different and deserves A+for the organizers. My only comment is that the flame should be high above the stadium so that the entire Olympic park and city can see the effects of the flame. Where the London flame is placed it does not afford that.

The BEACH VOLLEYBALL venue is probably the best location for the sport ever staged in the Olympics and Brazil has to come hard to top that. That was a stroke of genius and a pity it cannot remain permanent. Located on the Prime Minister’s doorstep in central London, Horse Guards Parade provides an iconic location for the London 2012 Beach Volleyball competition Coupled with the music and presenter the venue comes alive and is the perfect spectator sporting venue. The entire venue was built from stalls to sand.

SHOOTING  the Olympic games is a big task. Its the biggest audience in the world and every country has a team of reporters there to relay the results back to their country. Additionally the BBC as the host nation has to provide feeds to numerous networks to bring the coverage live. The London games has succeeded with giving the best close up shots of the games that makes you feel like you are actually there at the games. The amazing under water and over head shots of the swimming and diving competition , the close ups of the canoeing are all unprecedented in Olympic coverage. HD and 3D are the standard here. London 2012 will be the first Olympics to feature live 3D television broadcasts, and 33 “true 3D” cameras will be used to capture more than 230 hours of 3D coverage. So far this aspect of the games has been excellent and  first class. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for the viewers when the games move to the Olympic stadium.

 

 

The MEDAL Tally after 5 days has been exciting and is a true reflection that the world of sports is a global phenomenon that is for all countries not just the richest or biggest. From the  largest nation China to one of the more obscure ones Uzbekistan some 40 countries have medalled so far after only 5 days . It means the playing field is leveling. Its not just about money, its about heart. The 2008 Olympics had 86 countries that medaled. This 2012   games looks like it will top that.

Every Olympics has its fair share of drama and surprises. London so far has had a few. From the number of athletes sent home for doping to those gone for racial twittering these games are positioned to write its own chapter in the history books. One thing so far is true – no nation will have a gold medal wrapped in a bag waiting to be collected. You have to earn it. The world has suddenly gotten better.  China had to perform to win the diving sweep in medals. If they didn’t a country like Mexico would be right there to take it away from them. So the games has been fair and balanced . Now all attention moves to the Olympic stadium. The games in the  80,000 seat mammoth will be for the purist the real start of the Olympic games. Yes there will be drama, there will  be upsets and tears of laughter and the agony of defeat. From the opening ceremonies London 2012 has shown the world it will be a different Olympics. True to form it has been so far. What lies in the cauldron of the track and field? Let us all sit back and watch as the drama unfolds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LONDON 2012 – DIFFERENT CEREMONY DIFFERENT GAMES

LONDON OLYMPIC STADIUM ON OPENING NIGHT

At the closing ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics we were given a glimpse of the host city’s preview of what we can expect when London played hosts. I can vividly remember a double-decker bus and some dancers with umbrellas and that’s about it . Was not inspiring and I took a deep breath and counted to 10. Sadly if this is what we are to expect then please take the games back to Beijing.

But to ask that of Beijing to host the world again would be asking too much, even for economic behemoth China. Beijing from all standards of Olympic hosting and presentation was in one word FLAWLESS. Of course there were problems, smog, food are only but 2 of them. But if there were the world did not notice as the opening ceremonies set a momentum that lasted the entire 2 weeks. And this is the importance  of the opening ceremony. It is to showcase the host country’s culture and customs not exclusively  but certainly importantly. Every country has done their presentation and viewers were happy to see the various traditions of Atlanta, Barcelona, Greece, Australia and Beijing and they set the tone of the games. London’s stage was set from the opening sound of the BIG BELL and from there it was dark and ominous, mournful, pastoral, dirty, sloppy movements, comical, cutesy and lacked a WOW. The question is will the games follow suit?

Many countries have high stakes in these games, some more valuable than others. USA, China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Jamaica to name a few  all have stakes in how their teams perform. But from the opening ceremonies my prediction is these London games will be not as exciting for a number of countries in terms of performance , GB included, as they want it to be. Beijing offered excitement, so too was Australia and even Greece. London offers dreariness. Conclusion, expect anything from London, anything.It will not be glitzy for  some countries.

London has always been a country that puts on a spectacular Royal imagery and the world was expecting a bit more glitz and glamour from a country known for its glitz and glamour. We were taken on a history lesson of GB and the lesson was taken with a pinch of salt. As viewers we accepted it as we should and we gave a polite applause. Some of the Brits were happy others were not. One thing is certain the London 2012 games will be different, different and game changing. Let us hope the rain does not flood the gates to gold for a number of athletes and countries.

london-olympics-opening-ceremony-video

LET THE GAMES BEGIN.

 

1460 days ago the 30th Olympiad was awarded to London , the city that represents European power. The city that once ruled the world, The sun never sets on the British Empire. Its ironic that one of her former colony is celebrating 50 years of independence from her. Jamaica going back to the place that had her captive for many years on the biggest stage bears a sense of revenge. If London 2012 is anywhere near Beijing then we can say we have finally given our response to years of oppression.

London represents many things to many people but hosting the Olympics is more symbolic especially for the Caribbean islands that have said good bye to her. It is important that when we celebrate we must also remember that we must celebrate not only Jamaica but for the Caribbean. Today, Jamaica like like the rest of the Caribbean will show London and the World who we are. We , like the rest of the Caribbean, will show London that their little daughter has grown up and can compete on any stage without their help or direction. Today Jamaica will look into their hearts and find the Olympic flame, that flame that represents the hopes of a nation, that represents a nation at 50 striving to show the World and London that it has not been easy but we are proud, strong, and we are determined to be who we can be and that is being Jamaican and by extension a powerful Caribbean nation.

And so let the games begin. For the next 2 weeks the world will focus on London, focus on competition, focus on unity, focus on the ideal that we are all but one people, under God, whoever it is we pray to. Let the games begin the outpouring of inspiration, motivation, hope, triumph and yes even failure. Failure is not doing your best. Rather it shows who you are and all that you stand for – and that is excellence. London has called the World to its city but this time not as an aggressor but as host to the biggest table of human emotions , the games of the XXX Olympiad.

 

2 DAYS TO GO AND 9 OUT OF OLYMPICS

With only 2 days to go 9 athletes have tested positive for doping violations and have been sent home. 9 athletes gone and the games have not started officially as yet. Events the size of the games  will always have problems associated with it and London 2012 is not special as it has a few problems to deal with on a day to day basis- the olympic lane and the taxi cabs, the right to protest from protestors who are silenced by the police , the weather and we know how the Brits can be sarcastic with all the fuss in their city for the next 2 weeks. Yes there are and will be daily problems to deal with. But the much ballyhooed WADA did not expect to deal with its problems so early.

The 2012 Olympics has been touted to have the best anti doping testing ever in the history of the games. I witnessed a recent documentary of the anti- doping state of the art facilities for London and even I was impressed. It gave me the shivers just looking at the procedures. So why would an athlete even consider taking drugs and think that they would not be caught?   Why take the risk? There are a lot of answers and frankly we will never know the real reason. There will be the usual “I  did not know” or “I did not willingly take any drugs”  excuses but the fact is you were caught.

The problem is not all athletes will undergo this testing. Athletes in what is called the high risk sports will definitely undergo the testing. That means OUR ATHLETES, all of them will be going through not one but probably a test a day in London. We can hardly forget Usain Bolt’s statement that he and his fellow team mates underwent so many testing in Beijing they could not find their main artery after all the blood test done.  This is what makes the system a double standard.

If WADA is to be fair   and by extension the London Olympic committee and the IOC then surely to combat this drug problem plaguing the sport every athlete professional and amateur  should be required to have a biological passport that will be used for tests and guarantees against drugs .An athlete biological passport is an individual, electronic record for professional athletes, in which profiles of biological markers of doping and results of doping tests are collated over a period of time. Doping violations can be detected by noting variances from an athlete’s established levels outside permissible limits, rather than testing for and identifying illegal substances. Similar to a persons travel passport this bio passport will be used as one of the major determinant of the athletes history.And everyone should be checked and cleared BEFORE , DURING the AFTER the games.

Will it be more intensive, yes. Will it require more resources , probably. But the end justifies the means and save from all the scandal and embarrasment it would level the playing field and prevent someone from thinking they can beat the system.

The games of London is poised with all sorts of possibilities. It could top Beijing in terms of quality of performances. It could be the breakout games for a lot of top athletes and new ones too. It could see more world records broken.  All this is based on COULD. But if this news is any indication of what the London games is metamorphing to be then we had better brace ourselves. We could be in for a bumpy and drugy ride.