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Reparations in a Pan-African Context: Experience and Vision of the CARICOM Reparations Commission

Dorbrene E. O’Marde

Vice Chair CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC)


Théoriser le présent et le futur :
Afrique, production de savoirs et enjeux globaux

Theorizing for the Present and the Future: Africa, Knowledge Creation, and Global Challenges

Makisio ya Sasa na Siku zijazo:
Afrika, Uundaji wa Maarifa na Changamoto za Ulimwengu

التنظيّر للحاضر وللمستقبل: أفريّقيّا، إنتاج المعارف والقضايّا العالميّّة

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Published on:

December 20, 2023





Plan of the paper

Reparations in History

Global Africa and the reparation issue

The Caricom Plan for Reparatory Justice

Contemporary Africa Caribbean Collaboration

In celebration of its 10th anniversary in Lubumbashi (DRC) in October 2023 (25-28), the African Studies Association of Africa gathered to discuss critical issues of reparation, restitution, repatriation, and restoration of Africa’s material and immaterial heritage. Our partner, Global Africa Journal has agreed to bring to its readership the contribution of distinguished Ambassador Dorbrene O’Marde, Vice Chair of the CARICOM REPARATIONS COMMISSION in Antigua and Barbuda. This is the first paper of the ASAA 2023 Conference to be published as we look forward to the upcoming Bokutani: The Journal of African Studies in Africa to publish the contributions to this important and timely debate. Ambassador Dorbrene O’Marde’s impressive testimony introduces us to the history and notion of reparation as a struggle for greater global justice.
Dr Toussaint Kafarhire Murhula, President of ASAA
I would like to begin by extending personal greetings and appreciation to all those involved in enabling my participation in this important conference. I want to thank Dr Dan Waite, Executive Director of the Rutgers University Global Study Abroad Programme, the Director of CARF[1] Dr Toussaint Kafarhire Murhula, S.J. and the eagerly attentive staff of ASAA. I also wish to acknowledge the Rutgers group with which I have communed since arrival here, a group which includes Drs Hyacinth Miller and Baba Badji - and Jelmer Vos of Glasgow University – all involved in reparatory justice research and studies.
I address you as the Chairperson of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission – the ABRSC. Antigua and Barbuda is a relatively small nation sitting in the north eastern quadrant of the Caribbean chain of island nations. It is a member of the CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY which I will refer to as CARICOM[2] during the rest of this presentation. ABRSC is a government appointed body whose mandate includes the organization of activities which promote education and awareness programmes concerning reparations for the enslavement of our ancestors and establish links with organizations with similar mandates, and organize activities in order to develop deeper ideological, social and economic connections with people of African descent in the Diaspora and the African continent.
ABRSC is a member of the CARICOM Reparations Commission – the CRC - established in July 2013 by the CARICOM Heads of Government ‘to establish the moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of reparations by the former colonial European countries, to the nations and people of the Caribbean Community, for native genocide, the transatlantic slave trade and a racialized system of chattel slavery’. The CRC defines reparations as ‘the process of repairing the consequences of crimes committed, and the attempt to reasonably remove debilitating effects of such crimes upon victims and their descendants’[3].

Reparations in History

Europe is very familiar with the concept of reparations. It is therefore a known practice in that part of the world. After 1807, Britain assumed most of the responsibility for the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. The main reason was to protect its sugar colonies. Britain took a series of actions that confirm this attitude. The most famous was the decision to pay Portugal £750,000 in 1815 to restrict the trade to Brazil; and then £400,000 to Spain to abandon the trade to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo. In 1825, France forced Haiti to begin paying huge reparations amounting to 90 million gold francs for freeing ‘the slaves’ – that is freeing themselves! It is estimated that – counting interest - the reparation is worth about $21 billion in today's currency (counting interest)[4].
The Abolition of Slavery Act was passed in the British Parliament in 1833, effectively ending the ‘legality’ of inhumanity in 1834. Critical to this ‘commercial’ contract was the recognition of the impact abolition would have on the economies of both the periphery and the centre and through the form - the colonial governments recognized the impact and in 1834, paid their inefficient plantation-owning producers reparations for the loss of their slaves. A sum of 20 million pounds was paid to enslavers. Those in my home parish, Antigua and Barbuda, received 415,173 pounds, one shilling, seven pence and one quarter farthings.
It is only in 2016 that we in the Caribbean and the British people learnt that those payments to the Rothschild bank were completed in 2015. This is important in that it brings enslavement of African people and the racist underpinnings of the Abolition of Slavery Act that finally agreed with slavery lawmakers that African people were chattel and that the British Government in collusion with them, paid for loss of their ‘property’ – just under seven hundred thousand African souls residing in the Caribbean at that time. On the basis of these figures, we also posit a claim of genocide. The reduction of a transplanted population of over five million people to seven hundred thousand over the period of enslavement implies in our point of view the possibility of genocide against African people in the Caribbean. Our historians and researchers are documenting at this time the basis of the claim[5].
In modern day judgments, since 1945 the tribunals of the world upheld compensation awards to many peoples and countries the world over. Most significant has been the award to the Jews and the State of Israel for the exigencies of the holocaust in Nazi Germany. It is estimated that the compensation award has netted Israel $60 billion so far and running. This is independent of the holocaust-inspired aid payments made by the United States and other European powers.
We can recount – but time does not allow us to – many facts about the exercise of reparations rights in modern world history. We can examine the issuance of apologies and payments to Japanese Americans, Native American Indians, to the Allies of World War ll who claimed some $33 billion from Germany after World War II and to Poland for the use of Poles as slave labor; to the Eskimos/Native peoples; to the Aborigines who received large areas of bauxite land and large sums of money from the Australian government and a large sum of money; and to the Maoris in New Zealand received $160 million and a large expanse of territory. We note that recently Mau Mau victims of British official torture in Kenya obtained settlement from the British Government. These successful reparations cases have established the fact that Europe (and North America) clearly recognize the principle of reparations as a means of making amends for past wrongful deeds. ‘And there is neither time expiry nor statute of limitations to prevent challenging the crime of genocide and murder’.

Global Africa and the reparation issue

The struggle for reparations among people of African descent is not new. Historically their every challenge to overthrow the burden of transatlantic slavery was an attempt to win reparations, to win the right to return to their African homeland, to reassume their historical place in the human race. The majority of these attempts were defeated through military means.
The post-slavery period of Caribbean apartheid is flooded with a number of demands from individuals and organizations for reparations, expressed in many instances in legal terms. In Jamaica, the actions initiated by the Maroons, the philosophies of Marcus Garvey[6] as well as the Rastafari positions of early stalwarts and the present-day Caribbean Rastafari Organization represent an unbroken challenge for repatriation and reparations. There has been no slumber among Caribbean people in seeking reparatory justice. There has been a failure of Europe to appropriately acknowledge and respond to such calls, perhaps in its understanding of, and inability to meet another tenet of equity that ‘he who comes into equity must come with clean hands.’
The CRC recognizes that the constant regional search and struggle for development resources are linked directly to the historical inability of our nations to have accumulated wealth from the efforts of our peoples during slavery and colonialism. These former wealth producers must now seek foreign direct investment – mainly from extra-regional sources to guarantee a decent standard of living to the descendants of those whose sweat and blood fertilized and whose pain has sown the seeds of international capitalist development.
Caribbean nations entered Independence with dependency straddling their economic, cultural, social and even political lives. Enslavement and colonialism - through deliberate colonial governance policies - left us no Stock Exchanges or other avenues for capital accumulation except the hard work, native intelligence and frugality of our ancestors. It left us with staggering rates of illiteracy and a scientific and technological knowledge narrowed to the support of the sugar industry – only! It forced our governments into high interest debts to address the social imperatives of health and education, as being fundamental for development.
I will say much more about the experiences of the ABRSC and the CRC but before I do that, I will explore the emergence of both organizations and the CARICOM struggle for reparations within a Pan-African context of Africa-Caribbean relationships – relationships that have roller coasted over the last two decades and which today are being centered in the interests of African peoples ‘at home and abroad’. The Africa-Caribbean relationship is not a new one. It was birthed during the four-hundred-year enslavement period. It has persisted through history in all forms of culture and a deepening recognition – led, among others, by the Rastafarian movement in the Caribbean – that for us, notwithstanding our intrinsic nationalistic and patriotic emotions – Africa is our homeland.
The yearning for Africa among our Caribbean philosophers and other leaders led to the concepts of Pan-Africanism described by Cyril Lionel Robert James as a wholly Caribbean phenomenon a concept born out of the thinking of Haitian Jean Price Mars, Virgin Islander Edward Blyden, Martiniquan Aime Césaire, Trinidadians George Padmore and Sylvester Williams - and others - and furthered perhaps to its highest heights by the honorable Jamaican prophet Marcus Garvey at the start of the xxe century. It was their effort to re-centre Africa in the emerging modern world – the world of knowledge and thought. We also recognize two main African contributions to the philosophy primarily through Leopold Senghor and Duse Mohamed Ali.
The Africa-Caribbean relationship has not been given – until recently – meaningful political and economic support and direction – on either side of the Atlantic. But today – positively – we witness over the last two decades – an intensification of efforts to strengthen the relationship – to make it more practically meaningful to the average citizen on the continent and in the Diaspora.
The use of the term ‘global Africa’ has regained prominence. I say regained in deference to the work and words of Kenyan social scientist Ali Mazuri who claimed in the mid-nineteen nineties: ‘We define Global Africa as the continent of Africa plus the Diaspora of enslavement (descendants of survivors of the Middle Passage) and the Diaspora of colonialism (the dispersal of Africans which continues to occur as a result of colonization and its aftermath).[7]
In manner similar to the expression of Caribbean pride in the leadership and development of Pan African thought, Africa can similarly express its own pride in the initiation of the modern reparations movement.
We recognize that its major thrust was initiated on the continent itself. It was in 1992 that the Organization of African Union (OAU) – now the African Union (AU) - swore in a 12-member ‘Group of Eminent Persons’ – chaired by Nigerian businessman, Chief Bashorun M. K. O. Abiola – with mandate to pursue the goal of reparations to Africa. Caribbean-Jamaican lawyer and diplomat Dudley J. Thompson was a member of the group, so was the phenomenal singer and human rights activist Miriam Makeba.
Abiola said: ‘Our demand for reparations is based on the tripod of moral, historic, and legal arguments…who knows what path Africa’s social development would have taken if our great centres of civilization had not been razed in search of human cargo? Who knows how our economies would have developed…?’[8]
Ali Mazuri was clear that for reparations to work it needed to connect Africa and the Diaspora – creating what he called ‘a worldwide crusade for reparations for the African and Black world as a whole.’ He further argued for the empowerment of African people and States in relation to the current world order – advocating that ‘reparations from Western countries meant reducing their support for African tyrants, supporting democracy on the continent, giving African states a louder voice in international organizations and canceling their debt’. He enunciated what was referred to as the Middle Passage Plan where the former slave-owning and colonial nations would transfer capital toward rebuilding Africa and – a power transfer which gave greater voting rights to Africans on the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations Security Council. The plan called for – interestingly in light of our visit to the shrine of Hon Patrice Lumumba – ‘the return of ‘stolen goods, artefacts, and other traditional treasures’. This was in 1993 – three decades ago!
In 1993 also - Nigeria hosted the first Pan-African Conference on Reparations organized by the OAU which issued the Abuja Proclamation - calling for the paying of reparations to Africa and its diaspora ‘for damages done because of enslavement, colonization, and neo-colonialism’.
The reparations struggle on the continent then receded – certainly at sovereign level - for by 2001 – at the UN Conference against Racism held in Durban, South Africa – African governments voted with Europe and the USA against the declaration that ‘slavery and the slave trade… are a crime against humanity - and that the injured Africans had the right to seek just and adequate reparation or satisfaction’. This represented a serious blow to visions of Africa-Caribbean unity, one that challenged the Pan African beliefs of many Caribbean activists.
They however did not lose faith when they – I should say ‘we’ - noted that in the civil society grouping of the conference the African NGO community voted for the declaration.
Let me fast forward a bit. In 2007 the UN called for the bicentennial commemoration of the abolition of the European slave trade. Across the Caribbean – led by Jamaica and Barbados - both government and civil society reacted positively to this call and those commemorations led to discussions about reparations and the revitalization of the Africa-Caribbean relationship as an imperative to provide an alternative path to economic development and to consolidate diplomatic and political vision for shaping a new world order – one that no longer victimizes African peoples.
In 2013 Professor Hilary Beckles published his ‘Britain’s Black Debt. Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide’ – a book anyone – regardless of where you are in global Africa should read and this catalyzed the political considerations of the heads of CARICOM governments to build on the upsurge of reparatory justice discussions taking place in our various nations – and establish the CARICOM Reparations Commission.
The thinking here is also influenced by iterations in Rastafari communities that have advocated for repatriation since the 1930s - and critically by the work of Nobel Prize winner – the Caribbean economist Sir Arthur Lewis – who in the early nineteen forties told and proved to Britain that it owed the Caribbean four two hundred years of free labor that twenty million African enslaved and their descendants provided to them.

The Caricom Plan for Reparatory Justice

Successful challenges in Reparations law require plaintiffs to link the effect, the impact, the existing injury with the identified cause – in this case enslavement and genocide. To this end, the CARICOM Reparations Commission has identified a number of broad aspects of the Caribbean condition – the injury - that are the direct result of the crime against humanity and posit that they – the conditions - should be the focus of reparatory diplomacy and action.
We assert – as basis of our reparation claim – that European Governments were owners and traders of enslaved Africans, instructed genocidal actions upon indigenous communities, created the legal, financial and fiscal policies necessary for the enslavement of Africans. They also (European Governments) defined and enforced African enslavement and native genocide as in their ‘national interests’ and refused compensation to the enslaved with the ending of their enslavement. The same European Governments compensated slave owners at emancipation for the loss of legal property rights in enslaved Africans, imposed a further one hundred years of racial apartheid upon the emancipated and imposed for another one hundred years policies designed to perpetuate suffering upon the emancipated and survivors of genocide, and in the end have refused to acknowledge such crimes or to compensate victims and their descendants.
The demands are made in a model that demands apologies reinforced by compensation. To this end we have issued a ten-point Plan for Reparatory Justice – I do not have time to explore in detail the contents of this plan but urge all – regardless of discipline – to look for the plan – and find it on the site
The Plan outlines the path to reconciliation, truth and justice for victims of slavery and native genocide and their descendants. It is important to recognize that it is a social and economic development plan - as opposed to the legacy plans that are developed and or developing elsewhere – where reparations are proposed for individual claimants or descendants.
It is cast in the same vision as the compensatory aspects of the Abuja proclamation – along with calls for restitution and rehabilitation. The recognition of the continuity of reparatory justice visioning from the Abuja declaration to CARICOM reparatory justice plan points to the potential of a global African reparatory justice movement.
Our plan highlights the ten (10) areas or actions to be pursued in negotiations with the European states, and which would be the focus of reparatory action in Member States. Its main elements are:
(i) A Full and Formal Apology
(ii) Indigenous Peoples Development Programmes
(iii) Funding for Repatriation to Africa
(iv) The Establishment of Cultural Institutions and the Return of Cultural Heritage
(v) Assistance in Remedying the Public Health Crisis
(vi) Education Programmes
(vii) The Enhancement of Historical and Culture Knowledge Exchanges
(viii) Psychological Rehabilitation as a Result of the Transmission of Trauma
(ix) The Right to Development through the Use of Technology
(x) Debt Cancellation and Monetary Compensation.
I take a few minutes to address some aspects of our Plan. Importantly - Public health - addressing the fact that the African descended population in the Caribbean today has the highest incidence of hypertension and type 2 diabetes in the world and that this public health crisis is the direct result of their nutritional exposure, the endemic inhumane physical and emotional brutalization experienced during the long period of enslavement.
Another aspect of our Plan is about Education. In that respect, we seek to remedy the widespread illiteracy that continues to plague Caribbean societies – and to prepare our youth with the knowledge and skills to ‘access to the enhancing science and technology culture that has become the world youth patrimony’.
Culture is also an important dimension of our Plan. That’s why we invest on Cultural Institutions – ‘such as museums and research centers in order to equip our citizens with an understanding of the crimes perpetuated against us and in celebration of the major advances that we have made – even in the absence of reparations.
The primary cultural effect of slavery was to break and eradicate African commitment to their culture – resulting in the contemporary manifestations of ‘low ethnic self-esteem; the devaluation of black identity; broken structures and diminished family values; delegitimization of African derived religion and cultural practices, and disconnection from ancestral roots and culture’.
Added to these above mentioned is the psychological trauma. In fact, for over 400 years the classification of Africans in law as non-human, chattel, property and real estate has inflicted massive psychological damage upon African descendants and is evident daily in social life.
Another element worth mentioning which is discussed in our Plan is the repayment to Haiti of the 21 billion dollars mentioned will feature high on the CARICOM agenda.
We therefore – in the first instance – have called for a reparatory dialogue with European powers to begin the process of healing and repair. This dialogue we insist must yield at minimum an acknowledgement and an apology for the ‘fundamental illegally and genocidal character of transatlantic slavery’. It must also yield material and financial reparations that meet the costs of scientific and technological research and remedies, education and cultural development, public health interventions into chronic diseases and the other impacts that the CARICOM Commission has identified.

Contemporary Africa Caribbean Collaboration[9]

Since the turn of this century, we have witnessed a series of fora – under various names, led by various sectors that have as their mission ‘forging stronger relationships between African and the Caribbean – starting with the first African Diaspora Forum in December 2002. Other important attempts include the ‘South Africa, African Union and Caribbean Diaspora Conference’ of 2005 which was convened in Jamaica with aim to revitalize the ‘historical and cultural bonds between Africa and the African Diaspora in the Caribbean and to establish mechanisms for building stronger political bonds.
Both blocs – African and Caribbean – do have a history of cooperation in the international community – in the United Nations and its various bodies; in the Commonwealth of Nations; in the Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) groups; in conferences focused on SIDS – Small Islands Developing States; and in negotiation of various international trade deals and agreements. The African Union has recently embraced the Diaspora of one hundred and seventy million people of African descent living outside of the continent – as its sixth region – offering opportunities for us to participate more fully in global African decision making. Formal platforms have been established between the African Union and the CARICOM Secretariat on which they communicate for collaboration. The potential for the development of common diplomatic policy and direction for both regions was strengthened in 2020 with the establishment of the AfCAR – the Africa Group-CARICOM Forum – a sixty-eight member group within the United Nations. The purpose of AfCAR is broadly anchored on reinforcing the historical bonds between African and Caribbean states, based on common aspirations and the three principles of solidarity, partnerships and multilateralism for the common benefit of both regions.
In the last two decades we have witnessed the visit of the former President of South Africa, Hon Nelson Mandela to both Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. His successor Thabo Mbeki visited Jamaica and attended the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government in 2003 where he called for an ‘African Renaissance’ to encompass ‘all Africans both in Africa and the Diaspora’[10]. In more recent times President Uhuru Kenyatta visited both Barbados and Jamaica and pledged to deepen bilateral and people-to-people ties for the benefit of both countries. Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves have visited Ethiopia and Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley on her recent visit to Ghana – called for closer ties between both nations – for mutual benefit.
But in reality – the benefits of the various political and diplomatic overtures have not yet yielded results that are satisfying to those who have been making the various calls – those who have been seeing the imperative of stronger Africa-CARICOM linkages – as both blocs continue to battle the major challenges imposed on them by the Euro-global financial system and those of climate change – and recently the COVID pandemic. There have been some gains though. The cultural popular artistes lead the way presently reinforcing the relationship – in music, in dance, in fashion and traditionally in cuisine. We have seen cooperation in the world of academia – The University of the West Indies has developed ties with similar institutions in South Africa and Ghana. It has established the PJ Patterson Centre for Africa/Caribbean Advocacy. 
Although the CRC feels confident that it has been instrumental in the re-invigoration of a reparations movement – it is important to establish that In the United States of America – the call for reparations is equally historically long but I will join it in the nineteen nineties when activist James Forman published his Black Manifesto of reparations demands – a half-a-billion dollar plan that called on the US government to pay reparations through welfare rights, a land bank here in the South and interestingly the establishment of four publishing and printing industries.
The work of The National Coalition of Reparations for Blacks in America (N`COBRA) at civic society level and Congressman John Conyers at federal governmental levels eventually led to the creation of the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC). A visit to the NAARC website reads: ‘the African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) derives its inspiration from and is modeled after the CARICOM Reparations Commission which, is mobilizing/organizing to demand compensation from the former European colonialists for Native genocide and African enslavement.’ What we are witnessing here is the expansion and self-reinforcement of the global reparatory justice movement. NAARC, like the CRC has issued a ten-point plan.
Within this global reparatory justice infrastructure there is also the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe (PARCOE) in the United Kingdom which sees reparations as ‘a process of restoring and re-empowering a people who have been dispossessed of their group power to effect their will and advance their group interests geopolitically as a power unto themselves and to the rest of the world’[11]. There is the Global Afrikan Congress (GAC) headquartered in Toronto, Canada which describes itself as an international network of Pan Africanist and Africa centered organizations and individuals and has in its objectives – the demand for reparations for the exploitation of people of African heritage. GAC during the last year staged an international conference on reparations in Barbados.
I want – at this juncture in this presentation – suggest that Pan Africanism is neither dead or dormant – that is expresses itself currently in a strong political and diplomatic endeavors; that its recognizes that all Africans – continental or diasporic – share a common history and therefore a common destiny – and a recognition therefore that we must present common resistance to the oppressive Euro-American-Israeli domination.  
I want to posit also that there are potentially two main global avenues for expression of global African solidarity – the first being the reparations movement and secondly – just as we tackled apartheid – we must cast a revolutionary focus on the crimes against humanity being committed in both Western Sahara and Palestine. I say this in reaction to the student delegate who on Monday night inquired if there is a contemporary Pan Africanism space that youth can enter – or be encouraged to enter.
We have no doubt that within the last two decades the movement for reparatory justice has moved steadily in a forward and upward trajectory – especially at State/Government levels in the Caribbean – to include the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and recently – internationally in Colombia and Ghana (speaking on behalf of African nations) - in the multi-national agencies - in corporations - and in academia across the USA and Europe.
But as NAARC quite rightly suggests – ‘Winning reparations is not possible without galvanizing a critical mass of people of African descent and allies who come to believe in the validity and value of the concept and are willing to struggle to bring it to fruition.’ This statement from NAARC defines the work of the CRC and its member national commissions/committees – the advocacy to galvanize a critical mass of Caribbean people in support and demand for reparations. The CRC – over the last decade has implemented a robust campaign of advocacy and public education on reparatory justice at regional and international levels.
We have been engaged in an intense media communication – television programmes, press conferences, articles international media interviews - to included coverage from major conglomerates including Reuters, Associated Press, Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, RT, Guardian Group, Wall Street Journal and most recently Time Magazine in July 2023. In addition:
- We have on the Mona Campus of The University of the West Indies established a Centre for Reparation Research to spearhead public education, research and publications.
- Promoted youth engagement and advocacy training - focused on building knowledge of the history of slavery and native genocide in the region.
- Secured diplomatic engagements in the UN, OAS, African Union, Pan African Congress, the UK Parliament, the US Congress and the Governments of Kenya and Ghana.
- Participated in lectures, conferences, meetings in the UN, the UK House of Commons, UK, Benin, Ghana, Ethiopia, South Africa, Senegal, Costa Rica, Martinique and many Universities – Harvard, Oxford and Tulane are examples.
- Collaborated with Faith based organizations – regionally and in Southern Africa.
- Developed a strong partnership with the AIDO Network International – and international NGO representing African traditional leaders (Kings, Queens, and Chiefs) and other stakeholders active in culture and human rights issues in Africa – now based in 11 countries in Africa and Europe.
A number of important advances have been made globally and I list a few:
- The demands of the CRC have been endorsed by the Governments of Cuba, The Pan African Congress, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), ALBA[12] and the Parliament of India.
- Many prestigious universities in the USA and UK have made decisions to review their own history and relationship to the slave trade and slavery – Brown, Columbia, Princeton, Harvard Law School, University of Chicago – Georgetown, U of Virginia, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and the University of London. Glasgow has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The UWI in 2018, for the establishment of the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research and the development of a Master’s degree in Reparatory Justice Studies - to which the University of Glasgow will contribute 20M pounds sterling over two decades.
- Private corporations such as the Bank of England, Lloyds of London, Bank of Scotland, Greene King, UK Trust and others have acknowledged their role and participation in the slave trade and slavery – some have offered public relations salves to redress their crimes.
- There has been positive statement from the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination – and also within the EU Parliament. A Permanent Forum for People of African Descent has been established in the UN which has two Caribbean representatives on the 10-member body. There has been acknowledgement of Europe’s slave-trading past in the Declaration of the European Union - Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (EU-CELAC) Summit held in July 2023 in Brussels.[13]
There have been some very recent developments impacting the reparations agenda. I identify the apologies/apology statements - acknowledging their role(s) in slavery and the slave trade from (i) the King and Prime Minister of the Government of the Netherlands, (ii) The Church of England, (iii) The Guardian Media group (iv) Two prominent families (Trevelyan and Gladstone) in the United Kingdom. Some have established funding mechanisms for repair programmes.
Prince Charles – now King Charles III has been modifying his public utterances on slavery and the trade and has suggested that – and I paraphrase - ‘the conversation about slavery is a conversation whose time has come. He has recently opened the archives of the British royal family to university researchers – expecting a report in three years.
I end this talk by saying thanks again for exposing me – and hence my organizations and the Caribbean Reparations movement to the wonderful thinking and comraderie that has enveloped me during the last week. I end with a quotation from Kwon and Thompson’s engaging book ‘REPARATIONS: A Christian call for repentance and repair’. I paraphrase slightly – with apologies – substituting the word ‘goal’ where they used the word ‘hope’:
Our goal is that the singular harm wrought by white supremacy, the theft that it has visited upon us and those we love, will broadly be seen for what it is. Our goal is that when it is seen, it will be confessed. Our goal is that when it is confessed, it will be renounced. Our goal is that when it is renounced, the world that it made will pass away, and its weight will fall from our shoulders. Our goal is reparation. We work towards this goal.


[1] The Arrupe Centre for Research and Training, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo.

[2] The CARICOM Reparations Commission is a regional body created to Establish the moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of Reparations by the Governments of all the former colonial powers and the relevant institutions of those countries, to the nations and people of the Caribbean Community for the Crimes against Humanity of Native Genocide, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and a racialized system of chattel Slavery. For more information, see

[3] This definition can be found at

[4] The Root of Haitian Misery: Reparations to Enslavers.

[5] Reparations for Native Genocide and Slavery: CARICOM Ten Point Plan for Reparatory Justice.

[6] Garvey, M. (1986). The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, Or, Africa for the Africans. Compiled by Amy Jacques-Garvey, Majority Press, coll. The New Marcus Garvey Library, no 9, Paperback.

[7] 2002 Black Reparations in the Era of Globalization (Binghamton, N.Y.: Institute of Global Cultural Studies).

[8] Abiola, M. K. O. 1992 “Why Reparations?”, West Africa, 1-7 June: 910-911.

[9] Most of the details of meetings and visits are taken from ‘Dr. Len Ishmael’s ‘Under Invested The Caribbean-African Relationship’.

[10] Address by H.E. Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, at the Opening of the Twenty-fourth meeting of the Conference of heads of government of the Caribbean community (CARICOM), 2 July 2003, Montego Bay, Jamaica July 2, 2003. 

[11] In 2001, the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe (PARCOE) is founded under the joint leadership of Esther Stanford-Xosei and Kofi Mawuli Klu. Since its creation, PARCOE has been involved in a number of important initiatives, such as the legal action undertaken against the British head of state and government in 2003 in collaboration with the Black Quest for Justice Campaign. See:

[12] Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America.

[13] Most of the above details is taken from INTERNAL CRC Documentation.



To cite this paper:


O’Marde, D. E. (2023). Reparations in a Pan-African Context: Experience And Vision of the CARICOM Reparations Commission. Global Africa, 4, pp. 75-86.


O’Marde, Dorbrene E. "Reparations in a Pan-African Context: Experience And Vision of the CARICOM Reparations Commission". Global Africa, no. 4, 2023, p. 75-86.


© 2023 by author(s). This work is openly licensed via CC BY-NC 4.0

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