Reparation: Monetary value or time for healing?

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“The Case for Reparation” will be addressed in a panel discussion tonight at the Audio-Visual Room at Nalis, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain, from 7 pm. 

This discussion, which moves to the Point Fortin East Secondary School on Saturday at 5 pm, is the Emancipation Support Committee’s (ESC) third instalment of the Kwame Ture Memorial Lecture Series.

“The discussion promises to be a vibrant one as each speaker shares his point of view through the eyes of Africans dispersed throughout the Caribbean. Although the perspectives may differ, some similarity may be found in their vocalisation,” the ESC said in a news release. Two of the panellists chair their national reparations commission.

Stating its intent for “informed and sensible conversation” on reparation, the ESC cited varying opinions of notable personalities on the issue, including economist and international lawyer Courtney Barnett and UWI Pro Chancellor Dr Hilary Beckles:

The value of reparations owed to Africans who worked on British plantations in the Caribbean has been estimated, at its lowest, to be £200 billion, according to Courtney Barnett, economist and international lawyer.

On the other hand, economic historian and UWI Pro Chancellor Dr Hilary Beckles says reparation for slavery goes beyond a dollar value. At the recent launch of his book Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide, he noted, “Reparations, or the concept of repairing damage, is based on the search for a higher level of humanity and is intended to lay the foundation for healing the human family.”

The discussion of reparation in the Caribbean is a dynamic one since it pivots around debates on remuneration as well as the discourse of healing and repairing the psyche of the African descendants in the Caribbean, the ESC said in a news release.

St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has noted reparation is not about people getting handouts, but about repairing historical damage and seeking to find a way forward.

Regardless of point of view, Dr Beckles insists reparation needs “informed and sensible conversation” on what has been described as “the worst crime against humanity,” the ESC said.

The panellists are Barbadian lawyer and author David Comissiong; Antiguan playwright and renowned Caribbean cultural worker Dorbrene O’Marde, and Khafra Kambon, chairman of the ECS.

Comissiong, a member of the Barbados National Reparations Commission, is a former senator and current president of the People’s Empowerment Party. Comissiong who was born in Antigua, schooled in Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, has been a driving force behind the Pan African movement in Barbados.

O’Marde, chair of Antigua’s National Reparations Commission, is best known as a playwright, director and producer (theatre and music), columnist, speaker, a calypso writer, judge and analyst. He has written and directed five full-length plays with the Harambee Open Air Theatre group which he helped form and led for 15 years. His plays include Fly on the Wall, Tangled Web and This World Spin One Way.

Kambon, an economist, biographer of George Weekes and a black power advocate, recently presented a paper at the 11th Annual Konvwa on Reparations in Martinique titled: Completing the Emancipation Process: Reparations and the question of Self-Repair.

For the original report go to http://www.guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2013-07-10/reparation-monetary-value-or-time-healing

Image: Monument to slavery at Anse Cafard, Martinique.

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