The facts about ‘Nelson’
YOUR COLUMNIST Dr Frances Chandler, in her column of Wednesday, April 13, 2017, has revealed that she is way out of her depth. The 1966 Barbados Scholarship winner in natural sciences is in a time warp and is making unscientific statements about a historical non-event.
She has attempted to put her Queen’s College fellow alumna Beverley Griffith “in her place” by repeating the discredited story of Horatio, Lord Nelson, the British Admiral, being “part of our history”.
That silly notion was second only to John 3:16 “God so loved the world” in the belief system of Barbadians up to 1966, when racist mythology was uncritically accepted by the 92 per cent descendants of the African enslaved in this island.
Apparently Dr Chandler does not realise that recent research by white international historians has destroyed the “Nelson saved Barbados from the French” fairytale of 1966. That “Anancy story” has now taken its place alongside other ridiculous beliefs such as “the world is flat”, “the sun moves around the earth”, “the earth does not spin on its axis” and “Hitler was simply a misunderstood Pan-German nationalist”.
Dr Chandler needs to come into the 21st century history scene and learn from real historians the true Nelson story. Apparently she has never read the book The A To Z Of Barbadian Heritage by Henry Fraser, John Gilmore et al, in which these white Barbadian historians stated categorically: “Nelson had no real connection with Barbados.” (1990, p.120)
Dr Chandler should note that since 1966 there have been 64 books published on Horatio Nelson and only three of them make passing reference to Barbados. Does she mean Nelson the sailor who visited Barbados on three separate occasions – 1777, 1787 and 1805 – and who never even did anything to be included in the back pages of the newspapers then?
Or does she mean “Nelson” the statue which “some Barbadians” (her words), who everyone now knows were white merchants, spread the “false alarm” that Admiral Nelson’s mere presence in Carlisle Bay on June 4, 1805, saved them from a French fleet? The French fleet had already (May 18) sailed out of the region without coming to attack Barbados.
Clearly, Horatio Nelson is not part of the real Barbadian history.
Has Dr Chandler read the George Branker Committee report of 2002? That report states categorically that Horatio Nelson’s contribution to Barbados was “at best, modest”, and that the statue was erected in the wrong island, in the wrong place, for the wrong reason and should therefore be removed.
Dr Chandler should stay away from the Nelson debate because the story she is repeating is a cruel hoax from which 92 per cent of Barbadians have been liberated.
Every primary and secondary school child in Barbados now knows (from white historians) that Horatio Nelson fought against William Wilberforce, who spent all of his father’s fortune in his campaign to abolish the heinous enslavement of Blacks on ‘Three Houses’ plantation and the other 500 sugar estates in Barbados. Is Dr Chandler aware that Wilberforce is regarded as a hero in every other Anglophone Caribbean territory but is not “part of our history”?
Perhaps she needs to check the following indisputable facts. Firstly, Nelson’s victory over the French at Cape Trafalgar, off the Southern Coast of Spain, did not save Barbados from the French. Between 1809 and 1810, Governor Sir George Beckwith successfully executed a British Admiralty’s order to destroy the French threat to Barbados, hence Beckwith Street, Beckwith Mall and Beckwith Fort (but no statue). Beckwith is part of Barbadian history.
Secondly, all researchers today regard Horatio Nelson as one the main factors why the British slave trade was NOT abolished in 1790, but in 1807 after his death in 1805.
Thirdly, in CARICOM schools and in our University of the West Indies, no serious educator teaches or lectures on Lord Nelson at all or sets examinations questions on “Nelson” for CXC. The simple reason is he did nothing to distinguish himself in this region apart from causing starvation, enslavement and death to African-Caribbean people.
Fourthly, serious scholars in England have shown that despite Nelson’s famous battle at Trafalgar in 1805, neither England nor Barbados was “saved from the French” until Wellington’s victory at Waterloo in 1815.
– TREVOR G. MARSHALL