By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
ACADEMICS at the University of the Bahamas (UB) will make their case for reparations and reparative justice in the sixth installment of the Caribbean Critical Symposium Series today.
The event lineup boasts a multi-disciplinary approach to the elusive issue of how African descendents of the trans-Atlantic slave trade can seek and achieve redress for the incidence and legacy of slavery.
Headlining the event as the keynote speaker is Steven Golding, president of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and the African Communities League.
Co-founder and UB lecturer Dr Keithley Woolward said: “We chose reparations partly because it’s current, CARICOM has identified a 10-point reparations platform we felt it was necessary to engage the issues around reparations what exactly it means. The CARICOM platform is unique, it’s not that they’re asking for everyone in the region to get a cheque. They have identified areas that have a clear connection to the passage of slavery.”
The event, founded in 2011 by Dr Woolward and lecturer Dr Craig Smith, is hosted by the Faculty of Liberal and Fine Arts, and will be held at the UB Lecture Theatre at the Culinary and Hospitality Management Institute Building. It partners with the Bahamas’ National Reparations Committee (BNRC), established in July, 2013.
Four panels will present on a range of perspectives from the “Trans-generational bio-medical impact of slavery in the Bahamas” to “Exploring the use of community psychology to achieve healing through reparatory justice”.
BNRC chair Dr Christopher Curry said: “We have a strong case for reparations. In reality it’s a very focused plan that looks at developmental structures and systems to help to alleviate inequalities that persist across the globe. CARICOM has really been in the vanguard, the US has formed its commission based on the model CARICOM has presented. We’re having a global movement spearheaded by Caribbean people and the model we’ve put forth.
“Our case is particularly germane. No region in the world has experienced a longer period of slavery and colonialism. Some are still under colonial rule; we’ve endured a longer period than anywhere in the world.”
The ten-point reparatory justice framework for native genocide and slavery was presented by historian and head of CARICOM’s commission, Professor Hilary Beckles. It calls for:
• A full formal apology, as opposed to “statements of regrets” that some nations have issued;
• Repatriation, pointing out the legal right of the descendants of more than 10 million Africans, who were stolen from their homes and forcefully transported to the Caribbean as the enslaved chattel and property, to return to their homeland;
• An Indigenous Peoples Development Programme to rehabilitate survivors;
• Cultural Institutions through which the stories of victims and their descendants can be told;
• Attention to be paid to the “Public Health Crisis” in the Caribbean. The Caribbean has the “highest incidence of chronic diseases which stems from the nutritional experience, emotional brutality and overall stress profiles associated with slavery, genocide and apartheid”;
• Eradicating illiteracy, as the Black and Indigenous communities were left in a state of illiteracy, particularly by the British;
• An African Knowledge Programme to teach people of African descent about their roots;
• Psychological Rehabilitation for healing and repair of African descendants’ populations;
• Technology Transfer for greater access to the world’s science and technology culture;
• Debt cancellation to address the “fiscal entrapment” that faces Caribbean governments that emerged from slavery and colonialism.