guyana chronicle November 19, 2017


REPARATIONS for Afro New-World populations are a solid, reasonable and principled issue. The evidence for the argument is irrefutable in economic and social terms. European worlds were salvaged, enriched and propelled 100 years ahead of the then Old World in their ability to harness technologies and cultural assets to their own benefits and above all, to establish an economic base void of paying wages.

The quest for state-of-the-art knowledge of then, coupled with the theft of the collective material wealth of nations, contempt of their humanity propelled Europe in that historical moment (specifically the slave trade and then the later colonisation of the nations of Africa into worldly economic superpowers).

What constituted the most harm was the dehumanising experience in the process of creating the mental slave. Through venomous philosophies, their spin-off doctrines and false religious and concocted secular history that evolved, coupled with pseudosciences and promoted illogical biological theories to justify slavery in the African context that still exists today in popular cultural imagery on the net etc. Theories were also advocated to repress the conscience of questioning European populations, who, on the memory of their own histories questioned the Atlantic Slave trade.

It must be understood that it was the contents of an African experience that constituted the Kemetic people whose change of religious beliefs led to the Hebrew Scriptures known to the world as the Bible, that were adopted and reshaped into European Christianity.
Further, that Christianity in the context of the Atlantic Slave Trade was not alone guilty of ‘Holy prejudices’ Islam was equally a contributor to the destruction of the ‘African being’ especially in the old African kingdoms the new ethnic composition of Islam had settled in.

The study of the Slave Trade is an intricate study, necessary for a working understanding of a background of the very impetus for Reparations. The above indications are not what this article is directed at, but the following addition is important to understand the deeper ramifications of all that was slavery and colonialism.

To complete the subjection of a people, their historical memory and self-perception must be altered, repositioned and the story retold. African peoples in the slave belt were reinstructed about who they were. It was implied that they were a savage people saved from themselves by slavery, Christianity or Islam. The Coon and the Golliwog were created. Though time has eroded, the visual substance of those characters still exist subtly and at a subliminal level as guardians of the gate in the sub imagination of many New World Afro peoples, and the gate is attached to the barren prison adverse to the economics of self-awareness and balanced self-esteem.

The sum of this article envelopes the fact that Europe will tolerate the cause of reparations without yielding to the raw principle of its demands; we stand a meagre chance of accomplishing some level of movement through a meaningful compromise. That compromise rests with collaboration in areas that can embody development through the transfer of shared business/technology interests, directed to existing Afro businesses that will not easily attract local institutional funding.

Such businesses exist in Mining, Agriculture and the Arts etc. Both parties will benefit, the European powers fettered to reparations have all had worldwide experience in distribution and marketing, expertise we have not developed, they understand shipping, have mastered it, we have not in practice. In 2013, a newspaper article indicated that the Scottish Shipyard that built many of Guyana’s ferries was going out of business, I do hope that contact was made with these people; if not, sad, but typical.

The reparations process must be constructively furthered from our end, with a proposed itinerary from where we stand. We need to construct locally first and for the reluctant reparations table a knowledge Base Exchange engagement. Reparation is the process that parallels colonisation in the context of a transfer of knowledge, only in this case not only one side benefits.

We have to determine the realistic dynamics of how best our collective well-being can be served in the short term, we have skills and talents, but not the finances to expand those skills to meaningful plantations, studios and production centres, and we are still a nation plagued by willy-nilly merchants with a bazaar mentality, that are domestic. And as it is with the Biblical analogy: “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle…”

Without saying all, I know in the long run in our interest much has to change, and we are the revolution of change, we must get used to that reality. The fact is the archives of the European nations of importance to reparations possess more economic data on what is possible in their former colonies than we are aware of.

It only becomes relevant that we seek it when it is ready to be meaningfully explored, in the interim we must address our own community into compatible networks to establish trust and clear common goals, commerce is conducted on a micro and macro battlefield, in that context of the last 20 years, that past administration in the combat metaphor would have broken every agreement in the Geneva convention, and not in our interest.

Reparations must be accelerated using every channel, to facilitate movement beyond moral claims and justified rhetoric. Tremendous work has been done by the Reparations Committee to inform the natural recipients of any positive response to claims from former colonisers, but I stand to be corrected in saying that we are yet to approach these nations on the pretext of sensible economic collaboration, wherein lies the threshold of functional reparations.