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"Her loving slave master".... "enterprising African queen".....is this what our hybrid genes must now allow us to accept and be proud of?
Reading this story, it is easy to ignore the atrocities of slavery and conclude that "there were benefits to be had from this exercise in human degradation (a revisionist approach to obtuse factual presentation, if I may say so). In fact, I have seen this exact aguement made on another forum. Similarly, I have read of another that pointed to History, showing Germany as having the best economic growth during the reign of the Third Reich with unemployment being at its lowest. The same can be said of our Grenada during our period of "Heavy Manners" and mass incarcerations.
But on point, one can ague, if there were really such thing as a "Free Black Woman" in the real sense of the phrase during the slave period leading up to 1788.
Did "Queen Zabette" had the rights of refusal during intercourse (sexual or otherwise) with Massa DeCoteaux? Or was she just a tortured soul, condemned to his quarters from an early age, probably no more than fifteen at the behest of her Massa. Did she ever had a chance to estroll the virtues of that "good life" while being subjugated? Or did she openly express her love and affection for the man who had spared her from the torturous life of a "field slave".
How does History account for these possibilities? And in the case of Madam Zabette, the Slave environment surrounding her made all this highly possible and begs for more answers.
This brief account of what must have been a segmented facet of her life becomes suspect, as her claim to fame was a result of "her being paid", most likely now that Massa DeCoteaux had realized that the Kingdom of Heaven would have no such accomadations for the likes of him, as he stood in line behind the Camel....pardoning the biblical reference . One may ask, even though Miss Zabette may have enbarked on her entrepreneurial mission (a Slave Owner herself, no doubt) could she have been one of the countless cases of rape or possible prostitution that resulted in her having two children, who most likely had become Massas themselves?And while we are at it, should we proceed with the corrination of making her "Queen" when she aided, abated and facilitated the Slavery establishment that kept her own people in chains? and worse yet, without making any sacrifices or atonement to the struggle?
"Don't cry for her"!? Oh no! She needed lots of tears, prayers and "more God", none of which would have been enough to erase this stain on humanity. Imagine if her own Brothers and sisters, (the less fortunate) were paid their just due of 4k pounds for their work and 12K pounds for each child, what would have become of us today.Madam Zabette riches was a result of the blood, sweat, tears, whip and chain that our Forefathers had to endure .
And again, with my hybrid genes, these few lines of mine should serve to remind her from whence she came.
I call it "A Slave Call to the God of Destiny"
Oh Lord! oh God!, bring down thy wrath on those wretched ones who must continue to deny our existences as we lay here alone, along that journey of the unknown, somewhere below the bottom of this earth.
See us! men, women and children too, who look like me and you, naked as we were born, all shackled in Necks and Ankles. Our flesh, torn and bruised by the sharpened edge of the metal that kept us bound together like Sardines in a can.
The mourn; the groan; the darkened hole which must be the hell of which our Forefathers spoke, lit only by the shadows of the Devil, with lance and whip in hand, while speaking in broken tongue.
The stench of rotting flesh; the dried-up blood from the "womens' monthly", caked in a brine of vomit and excretion; disturbed only by the occasional buckets of cold sea water, dashed! in our faces, the salty taste we did not recognize.
Like pigs at a Trough we were fed the poison of maggoted salted meat while being beaten at the Devil's hand; the beast of burden we have become.
Monsieur Louison from the French Quarters
Wow, Verne, have mercy, or as Marvin Gaye put it, "mercy, mercy, me."
But oh yes, it's about time that our venom, rage, disdain and everything else is dumped on that evil institution called Slavery. For no matter how much some may try to soften it or dress it up with stories like Queen Zabette, nothing but nothing can transform slavery into anything that's palatable.
That's why I'll continue to argue that our perspectives of the West must always be premised on how we became who we are. Trump and the Republicans and many other Whites too, are firmly set in their basic understanding and appreciation of us as a people. If not, why during one of his presidential campaigns did Trump ask "where is my African-American?" His toy or what?
There are those who will ask why should one be saddled with a past that has long gone? It's time to move on they will say. But ask the survivors of those who summarily and who with no regard, were murdered by the law enforcers whom the Establishment set up for their protection?
It isn't a wonder why time and time again policemen are found "not guilty" even when indisputable videos show them choking a cigarette vendor while he was screaming "I can't breathe."
"Not guilty" when Trayvon Martin was cut down by some stupid wannabe cop who felt it was his "bounden duty" to question Trayvon's right to be in the neighborhood where his father resided.
"Not guilty" when a black man is shown on video running away from the cops but was still continuously shot to death from behind.
"Not guilty" when for a broken tail-light a man, with his wife and 4-year old child, was killed for supposedly reaching for his duly licensed gun to carry, that he had already informed the cop he had.
In every one of those cases, the cops' singular defense was "I was in fear for my life," which was more than enough for the jury to find them "not guilty." After all weren't they simply executing the duty they were hired to perform?
Verne, like you I get mad like hell when supposedly "educated" black folks refer to me as a "trouble maker who can't let go of the past." It seems that I'm forever committing a mortal sin in being mindful of the indelible influences that are affecting how society perceives people like me.
This morning my daughter told us a story about the podiatry seminar she attended yesterday. Because of the rains perhaps, she was the only female, the only Black and youngest podiatrist present together with 9 white males. That in itself made her a stand out in the crowd.
She was performing an unusual foot surgery on the cadaver that they had to practice on when the group leader asked the rest to stop what they were doing to pay attention to her techniques. Thereupon the sponsor of the event, a leading drug manufacturer, proudly informed the group that the company was footing the bill to open her brand new office on July 8th. The applause she said was deafening.
Now I mention her story not necessarily to boast of her achievements, although my wife and I are extremely proud, but specifically to point out that despite that, in her posts on Facebook she does not hesitate to firmly take her stand about the racism that continues to plague America. Some have already protested that she is going too far like her dad. She and her friends are ardent advocates and promoters of steering Black high-schoolers into professional fields where there is a glaring paucity of Blacks.
In short, she appreciates her achievements, but regards it merely as a stepping stone to widen the arena with Black faces as common as Whites.
Oh yes, we have made progress since those horrible days of overt slavery and Jim Crow, but whether we like it or not, the memories of those times continue to shape and define who others think we are. Like how they used to deride our Gouyave, it's our over-riding duty to help erase it once and for all.
“…Did "Queen Zabette" had the rights of refusal during intercourse (sexual or otherwise) with Massa DeCoteaux?....”
There are many questions that should come before this one IMHO. Was Queen Zabette fortunate to have made the journey alive from Africa? At some point we unfortunately have to recognize the beginning of something new. It is the story of mankind. The entire institution of African Slavery reeks of mankind horrors to his weaker brothers and sisters. We still see that today as a weaker Cuba is subjected to the horrors of an economic embargo for having the audacity to want to control its ways of life while stronger nations like China and Vietnam with the same audacity enjoys all the economic benefits of trade with the West.
What choices did Queen Zabette have? Commit suicide? Then none of us would be around today discussing this. For over a hundred years her story lay rotting on forgotten Colonial records shelfs. No one cares or had the resources to remember her story. She was forgotten as we went about being molded into the likenesses of our new, kinder, Massa. The physical chains and whips have disappeared and are now replaced on our ways of thinking. As Nomads, who do we blame for that now? How has dwelling on our past injustices advanced our causes? I lived through the Afro struggles of the late 70’s and 80’s using those same exact arguments and today looking around at what is happening in the world felt as if nothing has changed for us that really matters. So how useful was that? We may eat better, have better clothing, some luxuries, and opportunities to entrances in brand-name universities and colleges. But does that tell the story of who we are? Does that identify us? Does it give use economic independence as every other unique nation? Today the biggest debate in economically better Western nations where we have enjoyed economic refuge for generations is how to get rid of us. And still remains on top of our agenda in the struggle today, is the question of the case of Massa’s rape. What is wrong with that Strategy? I think it is time to wash the slate and start from where we have gained something with the old struggle. The Massa Rape arguments now ran into a serious case of ED. Let us take away de Bubbanday!
If we continue to dwell on the atrocities committed on the African race we will never move forward. It is a nice escape to avoid us have to face our inabilities to stand up and take on the struggle needed to move forward – again. Grenadians have NOT won a struggle since the insurrection of Fedon and his community because of one reoccurring obstacle – disunity. Disunity between enslaved and freed Grenadians. Disunity between Afro-French-Creole Grenadians and other Grenadians. Better offs and the others. That was one of Jean Baptiste Victor Hugues – the mulatto who inspired insurrection, biggest bitter pill to swallow with the leaders of the Fedon insurrection. That same dottishness caused divisions in the unity of the Bishop Coard struggle to rid us of our own destructive ways. Coard never forgot the indignities suffered by his family by the remnant plantation class, and neither was Bishop Bloodline connection to Louis La Grenade forgotten. In the Revo’s dying days, Coard will always remind his Minions of Bishop and his close comrades’ Petite Bourgeoisie upbringing which helped made it easier to have them all executed.
“….Did "Queen Zabette" had the rights of refusal during intercourse (sexual or otherwise) with Massa DeCoteaux? Or was she just a tortured soul, condemned to his quarters from an early age, probably no more than fifteen at the behest of her Massa. Did she ever had a chance to estroll the virtues of that "good life" while being subjugated? Or did she openly express her love and affection for the man who had spared her from the torturous life of a "field slave"…..”
How can one even begin to answer those questions when a subject like this has so many pre-defined taboos established by shallow emotional narratives quickly developed in the 60’s and 70’s as tools to fire-up our resistance to Massa? I have never heard of Zabette DeCoteaux in my school days in Grenada. I have heard of Sir Francis Drake and the civility of the British Administrators who have saved us from our savage self. You are demanding that we participate in this discussion with resources defined for us decades ago when we were under pressure. How is that different from those who implemented “Heavy Manners” for not following their brand of ideology to the tee? Are we permitted to think outside of your 70’s defined holy grail of the ways forward? That might have been okay if there were substantial benefits gained.
I have learned to purposely stay away from Biblical references in defense of who we are. Because after all, it is written in the good book that the creator made us in his own image and likeness. So then who are we to question the Creator’s decision to bring together Massa DeCoteaux and Madam Zabette to bring forth Children on this Earth? Nations are born out of all kinds of inhuman atrocities to the Children of the Creator. It is an unavoidable process in defining who we will eventually become. So as we say: Should we throw out the Child with the dirty bath water? That is exactly what we are doing when we demonized the process of who we are in favor of one component in the composite people we are today.
Good day Mr.St.Paul
Thank you for the piece on Queen Zabette.My great grandfather was Montague De Coteau ,the postmaster general orHarbour Master.I understand that he was killed in the 1930.
master.I have been working on both my maternal and paternal family trees for the last 25 years.My maternal grand mom was Beatrice De Coteau.My two uncles George and Bernard
Grew up in Grenada.Amongst the cousins I know of are Reggie De Coteau and Dr Kenrick Lewis..My uncle Bernard left a legacy of the outline of a tree and have been using that as abase but this new information and some other on the site has really place things in perspective.
Your information has demonstrated that with continuing resilience strategy and intelligence We can surmount obstacles.I have also linked with cousins from theUSAetc.
Hoping to visit Grenada this year.,my mom is alive94.
Hello, DianneNurseGittens. In Gouyave alone you'll find many DeCoteaus and the exracts of DeCoteaus. Reggie, my half-brother and Dr. Kenny Lewis are just two of the many.
Thank you for your response,I note that you have written a book on Gouyave would love to obtain a copy,actually I have requested my daughter to obtain such.
Hoping this year to connect with family in Grenada.