Caribbean must seek reparations for slavery – Gonsalves

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, Tuesday April 30, 2013 – ST. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says the Caribbean must remain part of the leadership on the debate of reparation for slavery.

Gonsalves is due to visit Jamaica on Thursday, where he will deliver a review essay at the launch of a book, titled “Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations owed the Caribbean for Slavery and Indigenous Genocide” by Barbadian historian and academic, Sir Hilary Beckles, who is also pro-vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Both Gonsalves and Sir Hilary have been urging regional countries to begin efforts aimed at seeking some form of reparation from Western countries for slavery.

Both men have said that reparation is not about people getting handouts, but about repairing historical damage and how to find a way forward.

Gonsalves, speaking at a news conference here Monday, said within this century there will be much international political discourse on the matter and “we are in the vanguard (and) we will help provide leadership”.

He said his presentation at the UWI this week should not be viewed as an ordinary review of the publication but one that “goes beyond the boundary”.

Gonsalves, a  former university lecturer, said he has been engaged in activism for nearly five decades, noting “if you go about the schools in this region, Sir Walter Raleigh (an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer)  is better known that Walter Rodney” the Guyanese historian and academic, who was killed in a bomb blast in his country several years ago.

“I would like for Rodney to be better known…but it is a process and having said that you will hear people say ‘you want Rodney to be well known more that Walter Raleigh. What you want is for a communist, a socialist, a black power man to be known’ as if all of Walter’s scholarship is belittled and in the process from a neo-colonial perspective objectively speaking, they build up Walter  Raleigh that children must now know of one of (Queen) Elizabeth 1 pirates.

“But the point is this, I have fought that kind of neo-colonial thinking all my life and I will take them in any forum…I will take no quarter on those issues, none whatsoever, “he said of his detractors to his call for reparation. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)