Some of our people have been saying that the “Reparation” sums offered by both Laura Trevelyan and the Anglican Church are too small.
Of course the sums are not enough, and that point needs to be made, even as we applaud and congratulate the Trevelyan family and the Anglican Church for the moral conscience and initiative that they are displaying.
The truth is that, aside from the size of the sums offered, the Trevelyan Family and the Anglican Church have really set a very positive and commendable example for other perversely unprincipled entities to follow !
However, there are also two other very important points that we need to make absolutely clear to Ms Trevelyan, the Anglican Church and other relevant parties.
We must inform them that Reparations goes beyond any particular money payment and ventures into the territory of our RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT.
You see, families like the Trevelyans, institutions like the Anglican Church, governments like the British Government , enslaved and plundered multiple generations of our ancestors — siphoned off and appropriated the fruits of our ancestors’ labour– and developed themselves at the price of our people’s structural under-development.
So as a result of that history we now possess a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT, and those entities that benefitted from the oppression, looting and plundering of our people now bear a corresponding duty to facilitate that Development.
And that is why the CARICOM TEN POINT REPARATIONS PLAN is centred upon a multifaceted Development Agenda.
Reparative Justice requires that we– the Victims of the Crime — must exercise autonomy over the process of repair.
In other words, it is not enough for a family to simply say that they are giving 100,000 pounds or a Church to say that it is establishing a 100 Million pound Fund.
Rather, if this is to qualify as Reparations, they must engage with legitimate representatives of the victimized Community and contribute to jointly constructed Repair Programmes in which the representatives of the victimized Community have the decisive say.
NOW, I think it is fair to say that we do see signs that suggest to us that both Ms Trevelyan and the Anglican possess some understanding of these principles.
But we must take pains to make these principles clear to all and sundry, less we end up in confusion and devalue and subvert our people’s sacred Reparations cause.
David Comissiong is Barbados’s ambassador to CARICOM and a leading reparations Pan-Africanist.