by Arley Gill
As we commemorate another Emancipation Day here in the Caribbean region — we must stop and acknowledge with reverence and utmost respect the significance of this day.
Our ancestors — men, women and children — dehumanised and exploited for profit on the very land on which I stand — demand that as we commemorate their freedom from slavery — that we also fight for justice for more than 400 years of stolen lives and labor and hold European colonial powers accountable for these crimes against humanity.
More importantly, our ancestors’ cry for justice must also become a national, regional and international struggle for reparations. The time to right this wrong is now!
As-a-matter-of-fact, we must never forget that our history and heritage did not begin with slavery and that our ongoing struggle for freedom from injustice and oppression is rooted in a past colored by resistance and resilience.
The many uprisings and rebellions that our enslaved ancestors led and, in many instances won — are a testament to the legacy of strength, courage and determination willed to us by our forebearers. Therefore, we must let this legacy of resistance and resilience be our fuel in our multi-generational fight for reparatory justice and liberation.
This year in particular, we must remember that Emancipation in the English-speaking Caribbean was inspired by the victorious Haitian Revolution. And in this moment, as our Haitian sisters and brothers continue to face insurmountable odds — we must be reminded that their current crisis is a direct result of the colonial backlash for fighting for self-determination, independence and liberation.
Haiti is a clear reminder to the rest of us in the African Diaspora — of the necessary work that must be done to hold our former colonial powers accountable — morally and financially for the harms done to our ancestors and the social, economic and political effects of slavery and colonialisation.
The time for Britain and other European nations to settle the debts owed to our nations is long overdue. Emancipation Day is a reminder that our fight to earn what was stolen from our ancestors is of extreme importance. We must approach reparations in this region with a sense of urgency and we cannot and must not stop until justice is served.
I encourage each and every person of African descent to continue honoring our ancestors’ legacy today and always through our culture, our history and in our undying quest for true freedom — mental, economic and political and by calling for reparations from those who devalued and disregarded the lives and humanity of our forefathers and foremothers.
HONOUR THE LEGACY OF OUR FOREBEARERS — REPARATORY JUSTICE IS A MUST!
His Excellency Ambassador Arley Gill is Chairman of the Grenada National Reparations Committee.