Reparations In Repairing The Damage
By Ras Tyehimba
Posted: December 25, 2003
All across the world, from Latin America, to the US, to Europe, to the Caribbean, to Africa and Asia, the roll call of Globalisation echoes, heralding the growing wealth of developed countries and the increasing economic strain and exploitation faced by developing and underdeveloped countries. The overwhelming debt faced by a lot of developing places them deeper in servitude to the IMF, the World Bank, and imperialistic ‘developed countries'. Big Multi-national Corporations are the order of the day, siphoning resources including raw materials and cheap labour from the cash-strapped developing countries. It has been a little more than 500 years since the first slave ship sailed from Afrika, and now Afrikans all across the globe are becoming more explicit and proactive in their struggle to obtain reparations for the past injustices that have been meted out to Afrikan people.
Reactionary elements even within the black community often jeer and scathingly ask: why should reparations be paid. To those that choose to overlook and ignore the Afrikan Holocaust, I have this to say: the enslavement of Afrikans was a crime against humanity and international law recognizes the moral and legal obligations of those who commit crimes against humanity to pay reparations. Slavery and colonialism has wreaked havoc across the globe especially in Afrika which is the richest continent in the world. This twin force has been responsible for the mass material wealth of Europe and America. Their wealth and Industrialization has been gotten from the inhumane exploitation of Afrika's resources, both natural and human;it has been gotten from the blood, sweat and tears of millions and millions of Afrikans. Colonialism has wreaked havoc on the social structure of continental Afrika, stealing and killing skilled craftsmen, leaders, farmers, healers, making Afrikan villages unable to cope with the challenges of day to day life. Precious Minerals, mines, fabulous treasures, breathtaking artifacts, rich land has all been dispossessed from the indigenous Afrikans who have been existing in their high cultures for thousands and thousands of years before the coming of the Europeans.
The process of colonialism which included chattel slavery and the slave trade, uprooted indigenous Afrikans from their homes and transplanted them in the new world, forcing them to undergo deliberate and brutal processes of dehumanisation and brainwashing. As a result, Afrikans both on the Continent and in the Diaspora have become disconnected from their true self, forced to function in systems rampant with racism, gender discrimination, poverty, self-hate, drugs, crime, mis-education and white supremacy. Bombarded by a conglomeration of the aforementioned forces, many have grabbed (or in many cases forced to grab) onto a very Eurocentric form of Christianity, and indeed a very Eurocentric way of life that has transformed many many individuals into ignorant house-slaves, burying their heads in the dregs of Western civilization. It is a fact that Afrikan enslavement was sanctioned in the name of ‘converting the heathens to Christ' and the very first slave ship was even named the S.S. Jesus Christ.
Reparation is not solely about money, not at all, it's about transferring technological resources and expertise to those that have been downtrodden by the technologically minded countries that have sought to rule the world with their superior armaments. Reparation is about putting mechanisms in place to provide equal opportunities to those that have laboured long and hard (without just reward) to build up what is known today as Western Civilization. In recent times, the Maori people, survivors of the Jewish Holocaust Native Americans, Aboriginal peoples, Japanese Americans, Korean sex-slaves, have all received some sort of Reparation for grave injustices that have been meted out to them. The Afrikan Holocaust on the other hand, despite being far more damaging, brutal and long lasting has yet to receive any favorable redress from the countries that are responsible for these atrocities against humanity. In fact most countries haven't even recognized the Afrikan Holocaust as being a crime against humanity. Is it because Afrikan people are not seen as being part of humanity?
No amount of money could ever quantify the damage that was done, and no amount of compensation will be able to fully repair the trauma that has resulted. However, Reparations will help to provide new opportunities for growth and help bridge the disparate gap between rich developed countries and poor Afrikan countries that have suffered immensely because of the underdevelopment forced upon them by European power. If for example the digital divide is left to increase at the present alarming rate, then the force of globalisation will have an even worse disastrous impact on the Afrikan economies.
A proper understanding of history will reveal that Western countries will not pay Reparations to Afrikans unless their survival utterly depends upon it. In fact a lot of whites claim that since it was their ancestors that perpetuated the crimes against humanity, they (the present White population) cannot be held accountable for compensating those disadvantaged... In making this outrageous claim they ignore one fundamental fact; that Western countries and their white populations has and is still benefiting from the ill gotten gains of slavery and colonialism. Reparations is a moral issue related intimately with a wider movement for equal rights and justice, and Western countries have shown time and time again that they are not motivated by morality, truth and justice, but rather by money and power.
The US, one of the most racist countries in the world walked out of the World Conference against Racism because they were not prepared to deal expeditiously with the issues at hand. With this in mind, the Reparations movement must not take place within a vacuum; it must not be the main thrust of the Pan Afrikan Movement. Allocation of scarce resources has to be a major concern of both Afrikans on the continent and those in the Diaspora. The main thrust of the movement and where the most resources should be allocated is in terms of the re-education of ourselves in the interest of reclaiming our divine identity. In reclaiming our identity and becoming more aware of ourselves, we will be in a better position to do what needs to be done in the interest of equal rights and justice. Where are the Afrikan schools teaching Afrikan history and the diverse range of culture that has been practiced on the continent for thousands of years? Re-educating ourselves will put us in a better position to utilize the vast resources that we have already at our disposal and also the face the global challenge of surviving as an Afrikan people in these perilous times. Reparations must not become an excuse to forget our spirituality that has kept us alive throughtout challenging situations. We mus remind the world that no peace will ever be possible unless the injustices that have been perpetuated have been addressed in a meaningful manner.
Message Board | Articles | History | Rastafari | Homepage