BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday April 19, 2016 – A reparations baton has started its regional journey, as part of a wider effort to spread the reparations message around the Caribbean, through public education and other initiatives focused on the youth.
The baton was passed by chairman of Barbados’ Task Force on Reparations, Professor Dr. Pedro Welch, to Acting Consul General of Guyana to Barbados, Monique Jackman, over the weekend. She will pass it to the Guyana Reparations Commission, which is planning to hold a reparations youth rally next month.
The relay is an initiative of the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC).
“Barbados has recommitted itself to the call for reparations on this occasion as a mark of respect for our ancestors who struggled for reparatory justice,” said Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who is also Chairman of the CARICOM Sub-Committee on Reparations. “To mark this event, Barbados has the distinct honour of leading off the symbolic passing of the reparations baton to Guyana as a show of CARICOM solidarity for the cause of reparations.”
The CRC was formed by CARICOM Heads of Government in 2013. It is headed by Chairman Sir Hilary Beckles, and there are now several national reparations committees throughout the region.
A reparations baton and torch will be presented to national reparations commissions across the Caribbean at youth rallies organized under the banner ‘Roots, Rock, Reggae, Reparations’ which will celebrate the principles and programmes of the Caribbean and global reparatory justice movements.
The relay will culminate in Jamaica later this year where the Emancipation Rebellion led by Sam Sharpe will be remembered and celebrated.
The Barbados launch of the reparations relay coincided with the bicentennial commemoration of the death of General Bussa, the inspirational leader of the Barbados slave rebellion of 1816.
At a historical ceremony entitled ‘From Bussa to Barrow and Beyond’, at the site where Bussa was killed, Professor Welch said the passing of the baton from Barbados to Guyana represented an historic moment that “symbolized the maturing of the reparations initiative in the CARICOM countries.”
He said that it linked the struggle in Barbados with a wider Caribbean and global movement.
“From the very inception of the Task Force on Reparations in Barbados, it was felt that while there was a Barbadian component to the initiative, there was a wider sphere of operations that would require a Caribbean-wide collaboration. It is in its fraternal association with the regional body that the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Bussa rebellion of 1816 provided an opportunity to initiate the symbolic passing of a reparations baton, sequentially, to other CARICOM countries,” Professor Welch said.
“Quite apart from the regional focus, the local events in Barbados also provided an opportunity to see how the issue of commemorating a special moment in the historical narrative, namely a slave rebellion, ties this local event into the larger global struggle.”
In an address last Friday at a ceremony where a number of Barbadian nationals were recipients of awards for the invaluable contributions they have made to the island, Prime Minister Stuart urged the audience to keep the issue of reparatory justice at the forefront within the region.
“We must sensitize our people to the ingredients of this debate and of course to the need to be part of this struggle to ensure that a lot of the damage that has been done as a result of our slave and colonial experience can be repaired not only by our own efforts, which of course we cannot forsake or ignore, but repaired by those who caused the damage in the first place,” the Barbadian leader said.