A Jamaican minister has blasted another public official seen in a widely circulated video doing a reenactment that she called an offensive “slavery scene.”
The controversial video posted by a local radio station shows People’s National Party President Mark Golding unlocking a chunky chain from the neck of a Black man at an event last Sunday. The opposition leader, who is white, was met with cheers from the crowd, and the video ended with a brief dance break.
“I have a feeling that Mark Golding has the key to get his out of bondage,” the MC says to the crowd.
The man in the video said the chain represents the hold and bondage Andrew Holness, the prime minister, has on the country.
In response to the skit, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange condemned Golding’s actions, adding that she was “horror-struck.”
“My heart sank as I remembered the ancestors who were similarly treated as they endured hundreds of years of unspeakable oppression and brutality perpetrated by white colonial enslavers in a long war for our freedom today,” Grange said in a statement on Tuesday. “All of us have been the beneficiaries of Emancipation given to us by the ancestors.”
Historically, the country was a hub for approximately 600,000 Africans during the slave trade. The enslaved people were forced to endure brutal conditions, starved, auctioned off, and separated from their families. It was abolished in 1807 after “much agitation by anti-slavery individuals and groups in and outside of the Caribbean, as well as passive and active resistance by the Maroons as well as the enslaved,” according to the National Library of Jamaica.
Grange said Golding’s behavior was unacceptable and called on him to apologize for the mockery of the ancestors’ sacrifice.
“We mustn’t take it lightly that today, we live the life our African ancestors could only dream of. How could the holder of such a high constitutional office as Leader of the Opposition so disrespect our ancestors who gave their lives so that we could be here today?” the statement continued.
One user noted that Grange “is silent when the royal family comes to” Jamaica. Other people disagreed with the imagery Golding was displaying on stage.
“Name a black country where this clown could have get away with this type of skit…” one Instagram user wrote.
The man with the chain on his neck sat down for an interview with the Jamaica Gleaner, a local newspaper. Claude Sinclair doubled down on his role, saying that he wanted Golding to unlock his chain, but he said the party leader did not arrange the pantomime. He said that it was a message to people in Jamaica.
“I wanted people to see the bondage that was on the necks of ordinary Jamaica,” he’s said. “I wanted them to see the heavy weight of suffering that is killing people, like crime, violence, and poverty. I believe that Mark Golding is the man, like Manley, to ease that burden.”
Michael Manley was a popular Jamaican politician who led the People’s National Party and served two separate stints as prime minister in the 1970s and early 1990s, respectively.