Rowley: Kamla’s slavery comments offensive

Dr Keith Rowley -
Dr Keith Rowley -

THE Prime Minister has taken offence at UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s calling the exclusion of TT citizens being worse than slavery.

He has also spoken out against her “blank” and “Oreo” references to him.

Speaking from a People’s National Movement (PNM) platform in San Fernando on Monday night, Rowley said to equate the closure of the borders with the horrors of slavery was offensive and insulting.

“We closed our borders because it was the most effective way to keep (people) who were in here fairly safe, allowing those who were outside, nationals and non-nationals, from bringing to us an infection that could damage and destroy us.”

He said all over the world people were closing their borders, but only in TT was it deemed worse than slavery.

“I know of no other country where any person has made that charge against its government for protecting its people,” he said.

Rowley noted that TT is home to people who have come from different places and different circumstances and maybe Persad-Bisessar does not understand what it means for those who are descendants of slaves. “If you have black skin like me, or ‘blank skin,’ as you call it (referencing her description of him as a ‘blank man’), if you don’t know what slavery means to a black person, it is better if you go buy a book and read it.”

Rowley also suggested Persad-Bissessar take a three-day tour of the Museum of African American History in Washington, DC, “And you would never be the same again. You would never talk that stupidness again.

“Slavery is an environment in which they were plucked from where they belong, taken to another place in the most inhumane conditions, children ripped from their parents, used by others in the worst possible way. Hardly can one find another condition where man has been so inhumane to other men.”

He also recalled, “As PM of this country I listened and watched the Opposition leader call me an Oreo.” He said he looked on as usually vocal voices remained silent, addingthat if he had made a similar statement about an East Indian prime minister he would have been condemned.

“I ask for no apology,” he said, recalling how his grandfather celebrated August 1 long before it was declared Emancipation Day.

He said as the country looks ahead, whether there are more confirmed covid19 cases or not, “We have to make sure we have a good living, we stay alive and protect our livelihood.

“You would have heard us saying we will take the opportunity of the disruption caused by covid19 to drastically innovate the country’s governance system.”

He said government will be taking careful, gingerly steps to defeat the horrors many people are experiencing at this time, “when we come back out, when our industries are working, our public service is back out, the private sector is out there.

“We can only do that if we are a disciplined people,” he said.


"Rowley: Kamla’s slavery comments offensive"

More in this section