Countries and institutions have a lot to answer for

  • Sir Hilary Beckles will be speaking on Caricom’s effort to seek reparations from European nations

    Sir Hilary Beckles will be speaking on Caricom’s effort to seek reparations from European nations

  • Anguillan premier: Ellis Webster

    Anguillan premier: Ellis Webster


It has been election time in some of our sister islands over the past few months. On June 29, there was a General Election held in our fellow British Overseas Territory of Anguilla.

Anguilla has a total population of approximately 15,100 persons, with roughly 11,000 registered voters.

There are two main political parties in Anguilla: the Anguilla United Front being the incumbent government and the Anguilla Progressive Movement being the opposition party.

In Anguilla, they have seven electoral seats and four “at large” or “all island” seats, for a total of 11 seats.

Whichever party wins at least six of these seats will form the government.

For clarity, the at-large seats are those that persons from all around the island can vote on.

So for the Anguillan example, if there are 11,000 voters, they can all vote for one candidate in their constituency and then any four of the at-large candidates, for a total of five votes per voter.

In this particular election, the electoral office decided to use electronic tabulation machines that allowed the counting of ballots to be done in a more efficient manner.

When all the votes were tabulated, the following was the result:

“The main opposition Anguilla Progressive Movement has won Monday’s General Election in this British Overseas Territory, winning seven of the 11 seats, according to the preliminary results released.

“Among the casualties is Premier Victor Banks, whose Anguilla United Front won four seats. Banks, 72, was defeated by 27-year-old Dianne Kentish Rogers, the 2018 Miss Universe Great Britain.” — Caribbeannationalweekly.com

The new Premier of Anguilla is now Ellis Webster.

Up until the early 1980s, Anguilla was administratively and culturally linked with St Kitts&Nevis.

Therefore, many Bermudians have ancestral origins in Anguilla owing to their ancestors being enslaved in Anguilla.

Some common Bermudian surnames with ties to Anguilla? Gumbs, Richardson, Hodge, Fleming.

Reparations

Around the world, major institutions, organisations and countries are taking stock of the growing awareness of the historic wrongs perpetrated against persons of African descent.

Whether it be the change of names on food products, sports teams or landmarks. The removal of statues celebrating racist leaders or pledges to listen more, the world has changed since the murder of George Floyd.

In reality, while the changes are overdue, they are somewhat superficial.

Those that live off of the profits from slavery and racial injustice will never be adversely affected by the removal of a statue of someone who died hundreds of years ago.

Conversely, besides a feel-good moment in time, those that are the descendants of those who were enslaved will not benefit in any meaningful way by the renaming of a food product or a street name.

The harsh reality is that those who are the children of those enslaved have been economically disadvantaged for centuries.

It is high time that those institutions who profited from the Transatlantic Slave Trade should be made to pay. To be clear, no living person can ever be blamed for being involved in the slave trade. However, countries, institutions and companies have a lot to answer for.

As a prime example, Harvard University was recently exposed as having had vast amounts of money donated to it by slave owners in the Caribbean island of Antigua.

“That plantation owner was Isaac Royall Jr — the wealthy benefactor of Harvard’s very first law professorship in 1815, whose name is still attached to Harvard’s distinguished Royall Professor of Law position today.” — The Washington Post

Insurance giant Lloyd’s of London made vast profits insuring hundreds of ships and their cargoes of enslaved Africans.

So you see, institutions that many see as “gold standard” have their financial foundations built off the blood of those locked in misery for centuries.

Over the past decade, Caricom has formed a reparations commission that has a ten-point plan to address the European nations of; England, France, the Netherlands and Spain, all of whom built empires off the backs of those enslaved throughout the Atlantic and Caribbean region.

On July 23, we will be having the first part of an in-depth conversation with Sir Hilary Beckles, who is the chairman of this commission.

Tune into Power 95 at 5pm for this important discussion.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at carib_pro@yahoo.com

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Published Jul 17, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 17, 2020 at 8:34 am)

Countries and institutions have a lot to answer for

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