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Dr. Gonsalves: No reclamation without mention of reparation

Dr. Gonsalves: No reclamation without mention of reparation

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Historical reclamation or homecoming cannot be realized without the mention of reparation.

So says Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.{{more}}

Gonsalves, giving the keynote address at the official opening of the National Homecoming Conference on Wednesday at the New Public Library, indicated that the topic: Historical Reclamation and Homecoming cannot be discussed unless reparations are talked about.

“For the genocide of the Garifuna, for the taking and selling of our lands, and for the enslavement of the African peoples: I will keep that issue on the agenda all the time and I have to speak to it today.”

“Up to today, the British have never acknowledged their genocidal crime against humanity, and neither have they consequentially offered compensation to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for substantially obliterating the Garifuna nation.”

“Similarly, the British have ignored legitimate demands from the Caribbean and elsewhere for meaningful compensation for the enslavement of our African forebears.”

“This will haunt the British forever.”

The Prime Minister, crunching numbers while taking his listeners on an historic walk through the British occupation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines from 1763 to 1979, suggested that if Vincentians were to be compensated for the wrong done to its people through colonialism over the centuries, we would be owed billions of dollars.

“Let us start with over a billion dollars for the land… I don’t know how we going to compute the value for the Garifuna, but we must find a way. And the nominal value today, the slaves will be $300 million.”

Despite the reflection, the Prime Minister said that he is looking at the past in order to advance, without acting compromisingly.

Quoting from a number of local, regional and international poets and authors, such as Vincentian Ellsworth ‘Shake’ Keane, Martin Carter, Grace Nichols and W. B. Yates, Gonsalves illustrated the need for not only a physical return to one’s homeland, but also a mental and spiritual soul search.

“Homecoming signals more profoundly a coming home to ourselves as individuals, as a nation, as part of the Caribbean civilization.”

“Accordingly, any of the goodness or nobility which our civilization through an aggressive cultural imperialism or our own neglect we must reclaim; particularly at this time on the occasion of our nation’s 30th anniversary of independence.”

Speaking on the proposed constitution which is up for a referendum vote on November 25, Gonsalves described the document as part and parcel our the country’s historical reclamation.

“Our proposed constitution is too, an exercise of our people’s right to define for itself the contours and details of our own homegrown fundamental law. The new constitution is moreover a healing document.”(JJ)

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