Barbados to keep pushing for reparations
Barbadians still need full emancipation from the lingering relics of enslavement, and for that reason this island will continue the push for reparations, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley has stated.
Speaking in the Emancipation Village at Bridgetown Market at the end of the walk from the Emancipation Statue in Haggatt Hall, Lashley made it known that not only would the Government be involved in the pursuit of compensation for descendants of slaves, but also it would produce a special programme on the island to coincide with the United Nations Decade For People Of African Descent.
“It is not only about the past; it is also about our future; and, moving forward as a nation, the various achievements for black Barbadians is to be fully emancipated from the lingering sense of inadequacy and inferiority,” the minister said Saturday night while declaring the Bridgetown Market open.
Pointing out that the sense of inadequacy was cultivated on the slave plantations, Lashley said Barbadians would “overcome the powerful global forces of sociocultural and economic domination, that begins with the controlling of our minds”.
The minister added: “This ongoing assault on our minds includes us consciously, and subconsciously, accepting the standards of those who enslaved and oppressed us.
“That is why reparations [for slavery] remain a relevant item on the agenda today. Let us fight back with the proven weapon of power that we have –– our culture. As our forefathers did, let us unleash our creativity and show out the areas of cultural entrepreneurship and innovation.”
Addressing a crowd that took time out from the treats of the Bridgetown Market along Spring Garden, he said the displays at the market stalls represented a part of the national culture.
“This evening, these are evident in our culinary skills, our craft, our music. Let us be proud of our traditions as Barbadians, such as the King and Queen Of The Crop competition, which has been sustained by persons such as Grantley Hurley, our king for the past 14 years.”
King Of The Crop Grantley Hurley picked up his award for cutting and piling 160 tonnes of cane in 2015.
Queen Judy Cumberbatch cut and piled 75 tonnes this year to retain the crown she has held for the past 16 years.
Lashley, who later sashed and awarded the King and Queen, said: “It is these elements of our past that we often tend to forget. The struggles of resistance, of rebellion of a nature that had little to do with violence, but were focused on the goal.
“It is not that our people were passive; our history dispels that myth.”
Lashley announced that his ministry would shortly launch the Decade Of People Of African Descent and join pan-African organizations in preparing a national strategic plan for implementation during the decade.
“This strategic plan is intended to ensure that the gains amassed by freedom by African descendents in Barbados since Emancipation are not reversed, and the unfinished business of justice and equality is given focus and dedicated attention for the next ten years.
“I am committed to ensuring that these gains are restored, even as we stride to win new ground. I assure you that culture will be pivotal in the process. Crop Over, our primary festival will be the lens through which much of this examination will take place.”
Tributes were also paid to nine of the island’s National Heroes: Bussa, Sarah Ann Gill, Samuel Jackman Prescod, Charles Duncan O’Neal, Clement Payne, Sir Grantley Adams, Errol Barrow, Sir Hugh Springer and Sir Frank Walcott.
No tributes were needed for National Hero Sir Garfield Sobers, because as the nation’s only living idol, he was elsewhere performing national duty.
“Our heroes, those sung and unsung, were deeply involved in this important process. They either planted the seeds of awareness, or physically struggled,” Lashley said, including reference to some 14 people who had sacrificed their lives in the 1937 Disturbances.
“Those heroes built on what was gained by the decree of August 1, 1834, [that] ended the enslavement of our ancestors, bringing to pass their hopes and dreams of allowing us to be where we are today in 2015, and aptly represented by our only living National Hero Sir Garfield Sobers.”