What You Sow so Shall You Reap - Praedial larceny

Post date: Nov 21, 2008 12:04:43 AM

Angela Cole responds to story

Farmer loses over $30 000 in crops

The Nation newspaper

WHILE THE FARMER'S away, the thieves will play.

Farmer Patrick Bethell knows this all too well as he is counting the loss of his entire one-acre field of four-month-old cassava plants.

The story began when Bethell, who manages Friendship Estate in St Michael, reported thieves had made off with 58 plants over the course of four days.

The situation worsened yesterday when he called the media to highlight another 56 plants uprooted.

"In one and a half weeks, I have lost around $1 800. They stole 19 plants last night [Monday] and 37 this morning [Tuesday]," he said.

When the first cassava plants were stolen, Bethell said he would destroy them if the larceny continued and he carried out his threat yesterday - he dug up the rest of the field, which he said was worth more than $30 000.

"It hurts me to have to destroy a crop just to make a point but I feel raped and violated and I have decided the time for talk is over.

"The gloves have to come off or you can forget about agriculture in Barbados. I think it is misleading to tell the 4-H clubs to grow food just so they can be stolen and I have met many people who no longer farm because of thieves," he said.

Bethell, 62, said he was now forced to cut his staff working hours to four days instead of five and was even contemplating giving up farming altogether.

"We are planting cassava freely and willingly as citizens of Barbados and this is what is happening. Well, I am done with that!" he said.

Independent senators John Hutson and Dr Frances Chandler were present and offered support. Hutson said he too had to give up farming certain crops due to praedial larceny.

"This is a very serious situation and I would like to see stiffer penalties imposed. If you were to go and steal ink, you would have a hefty fine or time in jail but if you steal crops, you get a holiday," he said.

Chandler, an agronomist, said the authorities were treating agriculture as a "bottom of the barrel" activity.

"It is ironic that there is now a global food shortage and as such we are being asked to plant food but yet agriculture is considered the bottom of the heap," she said, adding the authorities would react faster if a hotel was burglarised.

Chandler also chastised international organsiations which she said was good at hosting workshops but would not give funds to monitor the market or assist the police.

"What are their tangible effects? If they can't offer help with this issue, they are a waste of time," she said. (CA)

Intelligent people do not enslave people nor do they stifle their conscious.

When it boils down crop theft is not purely sociological – it is part of society and we have to deal with it. No one should steal another’s property. People watch others plant and they want to reap but to plough back twenty acres of cassava in the ground is a vagabond’s act, the act of a selfish mind.

Farmer Bethel has money to waste. Cassava after three months has roots and grown for six or eight months they get bigger roots. Cassava can be reaped all th e time. He could have given it away. This is what is so angering.

The law is such that you could burn down your house and you cannot be charged except for endangering your neighbour.

The saying is give a black man a key but do not differentiate - black and white – they are the same if they have sense and if they do not have sense, they are the same.

White people and a few black people with keys say string up thieves, kill them, lost them away in jail but what kind of system did white people set up?

The point starts with the property owner. But the whole things comes back down to not employing watchmen. “I ain’t paying a watch man to stand in the ground.”

Anyone brought up on a plantation, where there were lots of vegetable, would know that there was a system of paying watchmen to patrol the ground but nowadays they fire the watchman and now expect the police to watch. They want to take policemen and turn them into their watchmen.

The policeman should have been there the night before.

These owners are blackmailing the crown to drop them a chicken leg. They want the government to do these things for them just like the man on the street wants the government to provide everything. There is a lot of money in vegetables – but they want to hold the country to ransom and blackmail the government with threats to raise prices.

To have no watchmen is ridiculous. This is a general thing, jewellery stores, banks etc. and other establishments do not say that nobody has any right to steal and fire the watchman. For what are all these security companies?

Most other black people even police will not take it seriously. There are reasons why black people will not move but it is a story that white people do not want to redress. How for years they exploited fully black people and they demand to continue.

In later day the profits reaped from by capitalism are phenomenal and up to now white people cannot talk about reparations. Sensitive people cannot read about those times and feel happy.

No coloured person has forgotten Swain at Sturges? Swain shot a boy, who was thieving potatoes and claimed that he thought it was a monkey. He was charged and because he was a white man got 18 months for manslaughter. And because he was a white man in jail he wore his own clothes and had his own food.

In England a new law was made by precedent, where a man actually got locked up for shooting an intruder in his house.

“We come along and found it so,” is a possible easy explanation for whites pervasive thread of opportunism that makes them manipulate to seek the advantage.

How do you repay for destroying civilizations?

The institution of triangular slavery was wicked and cannot be polished whatever is done. It is nothing, which white people can ever be proud. What Europeans brought was not civilized but barbarism.

How would they have coped with being a stud; sized and mated because of colour by an ignorant man without a sense of reason. When a people cannot go back further than 1-½ generations it is genocide.

The shackles rise at the length of time Atlantic slavery lasted - 400 years. One hundred and fifty years ago how would whites have coped with two or three hours sleep a day when they came out of the fields?

So many were enslaved and so many drowned themselves. So many had a degree of pedigree and independent minds and whites took great joy in enslaving them. Non-white people are still suffering from slavery and genocide and how can there be reparations, when white people can never repay non-white people.

There has to be an understanding of the characteristics of white people and how and why a whole nation - like Germany - could hoodwink themselves that they were superior and carry racial superiority to the limit. Too many whites have always felt superior and there is no evidence of that, not even the colour.

The black man knows better, whites will squeal so long as they are allowed; they need to be re-educated. In Trinidad, many houses are built up off the ground because of snakes. Whites built their own society on the backs of blacks and blacks must now build lives so that they will stay where they belong. During the war they had something called the fifth column people, who would apparently be your friends but were working against you. There were many slogans, which said: “The walls have ears.”

Plantation History

Staple Grove was about 310 acres and had two watchmen. The watchmen had to watch day and night. The fellow, who did the night shift received more money. There was a hierarchy and a system that worked.

There was the manager or owner manager then a manager supervisor. They ran the plantation, there was a book keeper and one or two overseers, then the leaders - leading labourers the ones that the rest followed, who got more than the others. Then there was a watchman to see if anybody went into the field.

Watchmen kept that sort of larceny down to a minimum but then the union was formed to organize waterfront men and they had no idea to organize plantation workers. The plantation workers did not have any clout and they had very poor wages and no representation.

Plantation Family Histories


A certain branch of the Bethels had money. Bethel was at Searles and the Piles bought Searles from Bethel. When Bethel sold the plantation to Pile he did not move. In the other big house lived, Mr. Gay, the coloured estate manager, brown-skinned and a descendant of Samuel Jackman Prescod married to a Deane girl – (Kingsland estate.)

One Bethel had a regular concubine and had some brown-skinned children - like the black Wards and white Wards - and one of them Julien became a manager of a plantation.

The Bethels were also favoured by the Lascelles, who are direct relatives of the Queen.


When Gay and his family lived at Spring Vale, Emtage owned it and when he, Emtage, decided to get out of plantation business he wanted to sell his plantations.

He wanted $25,000 for Spring Vale, Gay offered to pay down $12,000 and pay the rest. Emtage said: “Look man I ain’t selling you that because you going pay me back out of my own money.”

He sold it to Bethel, who was a bookkeeper at Hopewell. I do not know how much they paid.


“My father got his licks because he was associated with Dudley Sergeant, who was an elite white man and member of the Progressive League. Not many white men were in there. Sergeant was a solicitor and he went to school with my father. I remember when my father took me to his house, when I was a young boy.

“There were attempts to put my father in his place but he told them to go to hell. He was managing Seawell and the owner’s favourite horse escaped and the owner a Mr. Kirton, had the whole village of St. Bartholomew looking and running after it. ‘Mr. Gay you should be out there helping the fellows.” Gay’s son said.

“You cannot expect me to do that.’ My father said and they cuss one another and Kirton fired him.

“My father packed his bags got a truck and left. My mother supported him. Not that my father would not mind catching a horse, but all the black people were trying to catch the horse to get a shilling or a bottle of rum. I suppose the plantation owners knew his worth because it was not long before he was offered a job at another plantation, Staple Grove. Then he went to another plantation, Upton and we moved there.”


John and William Challenor were brothers and both were knighted. As planters they would have been in the vestry, in the administration of the poor laws and the charitable institution and poor relief.

“I have experience with the Challenors. One day the attorney, Sir John Challenor - they were called that - they looked over the plantation for absentee owners - came to my father and said: ‘I never had a black man managing any plantation that I was associated with; you have to leave.’

“Challenor said we had to be out of the house by the end of the month, gave my father three months salary and we had to move. It was not long before someone called him back and that is how we went back to Staple Grove, then we went to Spring Vale in St. Andrew.

“My father always had that kind of conflict with white people but his reputation was good. They would say: ‘Gay you wasting my money,’ and then it would work out. He was the first to talk about mealy-bug disease and he talked the owners into not putting any thing in that field that year. It was 14 acres he dug up and left it for a year.

“That was 60 years ago, only the other day the same thing was said. I suppose we were lucky in that he was a good man, he knew his job, he had a lot of good progressive ideas and he had backing.

“The white people profited. They used to get their money’s worth. When they came to the house they came to gloat: ‘you plant cabbages and carrots to sell?’ He was doing that in 1953. So many times this happened like, when he planted grass on the hillside of St. Andrew because when the rain came it washed away the hillside. ‘Gay what you doing you planting grass?’ And the grass is still there it has not moved. He never went and did tropical agriculture.”


So many slips of history that the power structure is geared towards obliterating. Until the 1920s black supervisors on the plantation had to ride a mule or a donkey; they were not allowed to ride a horse.

I visited an old black man, who had worked for a white friend’s family all his life. He taught the boys in the family to play cricket and to do most things and they say: “from four years of age, he was like a second father to me.” This man, now at the end of his days, is ill in a very small house of two rooms and my friend keeps his many horses in better conditions and better groomed. This man’s ‘son’ passes by, gives him fish, provisions and white boy talk.

How to make my white friends see and make amends.

White people on this island should really try to become hardcore, righteous and high-minded instead of still being as they are - a matter of looking after number one.

The average local white has not been sensitive and has not felt that it is his duty to elevate people in his society. He has done very little towards the advancement of civilization in this country. Yet, now, he claims that he feels left out and he has every right to feel that way.

All of segregation laws that the Americans instituted were with the help of the white planters of this island, who got away from the society in Barbados and went over and founded the plantation system.

“You do not know how to control these black people make it illegal for a man to escape, cut of his hands, cut off his penis and make examples.”

Angela Cole