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Reparations are about more than money, says Barbados minister
Published on April 17, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Nekaelia Hutchinson

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- Reparations entail more than getting money – they would serve as an acknowledgment of the effects of slavery, including the lasting impact it has had on the descendants of slaves.

stephen-lashley3.jpg
Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley
Barbados minister of culture, Stephen Lashley, made this declaration this week during the launch of the Season of Emancipation at the Ministry’s headquarters.

According to Lashley, “The government of Barbados has taken a very leading role in this respect… [It has] put in place a task force on reparations… [and] we have kept reparations on the agenda through our work at the United Nations.”

The culture minister further added that the task force continues to function, and was educating Barbadians about reparations as a critical part of its mandate.

While admitting that the issue of reparations was one that created much debate, Lashley maintained that it was an important part of international discourse and was linked to this nation’s and the Caribbean’s progress.

“It is part and parcel of the continuum that will take us forward as a nation and a region; and we’ve seen in other areas of the world, where issues of this kind have come to the fore that once they are addressed and resolved, [there is a] better interaction and relationship that evolves.

“I don’t believe that we need to be ashamed of the discussion… I believe that [for] Barbados and the other countries of the Caribbean that would have emerged from slavery… many of the issues that we are faced with today are very much intertwined with what would have happened because of the slavery experience,” he said.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) recently approved a ten-point plan in pursuit of this agenda, where member states who were subjected to colonial rule will seek compensation from former slave-owning European countries.
 
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Comments:

Alick Lazare :

I agree that reparation should not be just about monetary compensation for the injustice done to Africans enslaved in the West Indies and the Americas. There is also the cathartic effect of reawakening our consciousness as a noble and independent people free of the stigma and self-depredation that was part of our psyche as descendants of slaves. My first novel, Pharcel: Runaway Slave, tried to restore our image by painting the runaways and their leaders as a heroic and highly intelligent people. Official history depicted them as craven, criminal and stupid. We need to re-educate ourselves and our children by telling our own story from our own perspective. That responsibility belongs to us.

More importantly, the greatest sufferers were the native people of the Caribbean - the Kalinago, Igneri, Taino and others - who were not only brutalized as the slaves were, but were killed so thoroughly that there is hardly a trace of their descendants, and their lands stolen completely from them. My second novel, Kalinago Blood, tells their story. They, too, must be part of the catharsis and reparation.

There is a lot of re-education and social readjustment to accomplish in order to restore people's self-confidence and pride.

That should be a major part of the reparation agenda or programme.

Alick Lazare


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