I spoke as an activist in the International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations, in general and a representative of the ‘Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide!’ Campaign (SMWeCGEC) which takes a special interest in the connections between the Maangamizi (the Afrikan Hellacaust), the global Afrikan reparations claim arising from it, and a host of contemporary injustices that not only we as Afrikans, but also the rest of humanity faces and which endanger our very existence. That is the possibility of human and other species extinction.
Extinction is an expression of structural violence against Indigenous peoples and their relations, and colonial violence in particular; involving systemic forms of harm, exclusion and discrimination, each of which is ecologically devastating. So how does extinction apply to us as Afrikan Heritage Communities?; well, for over 500 years, the entre Maangamizi, in all its phases, rooted in the Transatlantic Traffic in Enslaved Afrikans (TTEA), enslavement and colonialism, has been and still is geared towards the extinction of Afrikan people. These forms of colonial and structural violence not only involved mass killing, but also the invasion, occupation, settlement and despoliation of our Motherland, Afrika; uprooting and disordering Afrikan communities, trafficking millions of Afrikans into Abya Yala (the so-called Americas) which had genocidal and ecocidal outcomes; destroyed millions of lives over generations and changed the socio-economic fabric of existing societies in Afrika, Abya Yala and the Caribbean. For those that remained, this led to enduring injustice with intergenerational and epigenetic effects. For instance, undermining our own Afrikan modes of governance and kinship systems and in the process systematically destroying relationships between life forms in addition to epistemicide/s or the erasure of knowledges. Such forms of violence weakened the co-constitutive relationships between Afrikan Heritage communities, other life forms and ecosystems that have enabled our collective survival in harmony with nature for millennia.
An aspect of genocide is “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” Various aspects of these harms are epitomised in the twelve manifestations of ecocide and genocide highlighted in the ‘Stop the Maangamizi!’ Petition, a grassroots tool of the SMWeCGEC, working towards genocide and ecocide prevention by mobilising people as part of the People’s Reparations International Movement (PRIM) and the ISMAR to stop various manifestations of the Maangamizi. The third manifestation of the Maangamizi contained in the petition is: denial of Black and Afrikan ‘Mother Earth’ (Nana Asase Yaa), human and peoples’ rights to national self-determination as an oppressed People. In the petition, various other ‘power disparities’ and inhumane public policies and practices are identified which have genocidal outcomes and continue to cause devastation to Afrikan Heritage Communities within and beyond the UK. Such policies and practices have resulted in the decimation of generation after generation of people of Afrikan heritage due to ecocidally induced physical and cultural genocide, the destruction of ecological and social life-systems as well as natural flora and fauna. Not to mention the perpetration of a myriad of other environmental crimes such as wildlife crimes, illegal logging, illegal fishing, illegal waste disposal and pollution, illegal traffic of ozone-depleting substances and illegal mining.
Some of the genocidal outcomes for Afrikan Heritage Communities include:
• Physical, biological, economic, cultural genocide
• Social and civil death of Afrikan People.
• Ecocide of our environment.
However, the life-destroying pollution of our planet, anti-Black racism, its specific form of Afriphobia and the impoverishment of whom Frantz Fanon referred to as the ‘Wretched of the Earth’, all arguably have their causes in the current unjust world system. Many scholar-activists have helped us to understand that the current world system is rooted in and has been established through the Transatlantic enslavement of Afrikans. We as an Afrikan-led Reparatory Justice campaign are therefore working as an affinity group and campaign which is building solidarities with the Extinction Rebellion Movement on the basis of the commonality of interest we share in rebelling against ecocide and ensuring accountability for environmental crimes. In addition to the fact that our campaign itself is a form of ‘rebellion against extinction.’ – In that it is safeguarding Afrikan people’s role as custodians of humanity’s futures; which focuses on the racialised and other intersectional destruction/s of genocide and ecocide as deliberately inflicted forms of colonial, imperialist violence against Afrikans, indigenous peoples and Mother Earth, in furtherance of advancing holistic reparatory justice. This is something which PARCOE, the reparations coalition I am part, of refers to as Pan-Afrikan Reparations for Global Justice. In this regard, the SMWeCGEC has been heavily influenced by PARCOE’s approach or (‘overstanding’) of the problem of climate change from a Pan-Afrikan internationalist perspective; therefore seeing the climate emergency as the result of the criminal imposition – by the ruling classes of Europe – of a rapacious system expropriating the resources of the globe, not only at the expense of the majority of Humanity, but also to the detriment of our Mother Earth.
Our strapline in the ‘Stop the Maangamizi!’ Campaign is ‘stopping the harm – the first step to repairing the damage’. By repairing the damage we are referring to reparations or as we prefer to say, Reparatory Justice. We see this as the beginning of the solution to reversing centuries of super-exploitation and extractivism and ending the ‘climate emergency’ and its corollary ‘human and peoples rights emergency’. Enforced access to much of the world’s natural capital – oil, gas, timber, minerals which lies on or beneath lands occupied by Afrikan, indigenous and Aboriginal peoples often entails land evictions, displacements, forced relocations, arrests, abuses and killings and other violations. For us as people of Afrikan heritage, reparations cannot simply be limited to financial compensation alone due to the nature of the damage and existential threat that we are facing. Comprehensive and adequate reparations require the removal of structures built on centuries of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and crimes of aggression, in the forms of enslavement, colonialism and neo-colonialism or what we refer to as the Maangamizi.
Reparations must entail the cessation of current violations, such as environmental crimes in particular, and guarantees of non-repetition including true decolonisation and the restitution of sovereignty for Afrikan, Aboriginal and other indigenous peoples globally. For sovereignty, as conceptualised by Afrikan and indigenous peoples, is indispensable to halting the destruction of Nana Asase Yaa (Mother Earth) as our home; which has been caused by the structurally violent European initiated cultural, political, socio-economic system known as capitalism that is rooted in the genocide of indigenous and Afrikan peoples, chattel enslavement and the dispossession of ancestral lands, territories and natural resources.
Afrikans, Aboriginal and indigenous peoples have always known that the processes of genocide and ecocide are inseparable, for what has happened to our people and the lands on which we live are interconnected. In the Pan-Afrikan perspective of the ‘Stop the Maangamizi!’ Campaign this warrants an ‘overstanding’ that in stopping the harms of ecocide and genocide, we not only have to emancipate and save ourselves, but this process of stopping the harm and repairing the damage must also result in the repair of humanity and the cosmos. Since we as Afrikan people, who in the words of Audre Lorde, “were never meant to survive,” see that we have unique insights into what it means to be in stewardship of this World, Planet and Cosmos.
Accordingly, one of the seven goals of Pan-Afrikan Reparations for Global Justice is to “Enforce environmental elements of global justice full respect for Mother Earth/ Nana Asase Yaa rights.” However, we know that we cannot accomplish even our own self-determined goals for Reparatory Justice fully without working with others who are seeking to achieve similar goals of revolutionary social change and transformation. As the Afrikan freedom fighter Samora Machel said: “International solidarity is not an act of charity: it is an act of unity between allies fighting on different terrains toward the same objectives. The foremost of these objectives is to assist in the development of humanity to the highest level possible.”
But how do we repair the loss of a future?
We have to destroy the peace of those who are too comfortable to change in order to rebuild!
By all means, we must escalate the rebellion by building alternative futures.
I close with some words of wisdom from the Calypsonian Baron’s ‘Mother Earth is Dying’.
Today the things we nurture could determine the future And pray what would the picture be See grandson and granddaughter fighting, chaos and disaster As Mother Earth protest violently Wake up, wake up people and be part of the struggle! The planet earth in serious trouble We got to end this melancholy refrain We cannot afford to lose Paradise again That’s why I’m pleading.
Mother Earth is crying, she say to stop the polluting… Mother Earth is Dying, we got to stop the polluting… Whole attitude got to change, and priorities rearrange We got to become more competent The way we protect the environment And fight, fight for all that it’s worth Fight to save Mother Earth… Mother Earth crying… In case you don’t know, the planet Earth dying slow What a sad way to go.
Esther Stanford-Xosei, Coordinator-General, ‘Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide!’ Campaign (SMWeCGEC)
The ‘Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide!’ Campaign (SMWeCGEC) was represented as part of a group of global witnesses who took part in the recent #RebellionDay organised by Extinction Rebellion on Saturday 17th November 2018. The Extinction Rebellion is a movement composed of several thousand people across the UK and other parts of the world that is using nonviolent direct action, economic disruption and civil disobedience to demand action on the climate emergency. “Based on the science,” reads Extinction Rebellion’s website, “we have ten years at the most to reduce CO2 emissions to zero, or the human race and most other species are at high risk of extinction within decades.”
At their launch on 31st October 2018, (with more than 1,000 protesters blocking Parliament Square in London), Extinction Rebellion issued a ‘Declaration of Rebellion‘ against the UK Government for its inaction on the climate crisis. Citing inspiration from grassroots movements such as Gandhi’s independence marches, the Suffragettes, the Civil Rights Movement and Occupy, Extinction Rebellion has attracted much support from religious groups. Such groups include Christian Climate Action, which has had several of its members arrested due to taking part in some of Extinction Rebellion protest actions.
So, what happened?
#RebellionDay was the climax of XR’s first week of coordinated actions of civil disobedience against the British Government for its criminal inaction in the face of the climate and ecological emergency which we all face. According to the Extinction Rebellion Press Release:
“More than 6,000 people have occupied five bridges in central London to raise the alarm on the climate and ecological crisis – and to put pressure on the Government to come clean on the fact that there is a climate emergency.
This is the first time in living memory that a protest group has intentionally and deliberately blocked the five iconic bridges of central London – Southwark, Blackfriars, Waterloo, Westminster and Lambeth bridges.”
This action brought huge disruption to central London. According to Extinction Rebellion 85 people were arrested. The Metropolitan Police said most arrests were for breaches of the Highway Act, however all of the 82 conscientious protectors have now been released under investigation.
Extinction Rebellion’s topline demands are:
1. The Government must admit the truth about the ecological emergency, reverse all policies inconsistent with addressing climate change, and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens.
2. The Government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels.
3. A national Citizen’s Assembly must be created, to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.
The following Afrikan Heritage Community groups and organisations were also represented: PARCOE, the Global Afrikan People’s Parliament and INOSAAR-RepAfrika. SMWeCGEC members Esther Stanford-Xosei and Kofi Mawuli Klu spoke at Blackfriars Bridge as well as at the Extinction Assembly, which took part on Westminster Bridge. They are part of a group of Global South ‘witnesses’ who were invited to “bear witness” to the impact of the climate emergency in their countries. The final part of the action involved a Citizens Assembly where attendees formed small groups as part of a sit-in on Westminster Bridge and discussed the question: ‘How do you think societies should be organised to create a world for our children?’ #RebellionDay concluded with an interfaith ceremony in Parliament Square, where the action was taken to plant some trees!
Global South Witnesses speaking about West Papua, Mongolia, Afrika & the Caribbean
Why is the ‘Stop the Maangamizi!’ Campaign linking with Extinction Rebellion?
Actually, we were first contacted by a member of Extinction Rebellion who expressed an interest in becoming a ‘Stop the Maangamizi!’ petition-action-learner. After some correspondence, a colleague from the CAFA Archival Resources Team (CARAT) based at May Day Rooms met some of the leaders of Extinction Rebellion who asked to meet some of us, so a PARCOE representative also involved in this campaign, together with the CARAT met and started discussing terms of engagement. After some discussion, the SMWeCGEC decided to fully engage with Extinction Rebellion in their activities and explore how best we could collaborate. Not least because working with Extinction Rebellion is being done in fulfilment of some of our own Pan-Afrikan internationalist campaign aims.
Catalyse the development of such a force into an integral part of the Peoples Reparations International Movement (PRIM) to ‘Stop the Maangamizi’ and build MAATUBUNTUMAN as the most effective way to prevent its recurrence as well as effect and secure measures of reparatory justice from the ground-up.
It is therefore the view of the SMWeCGEC that our campaign can be strengthened in the process of building a concrete relationship with concrete allies engage in forms of resistance to aspects of the Maangamizi and who are also in pursuit of similar objectives as us; such as stopping ecocide, taking seriously the threat of human and other species extinction, as well as countering extractivism and reversing the harmful effects of extractive industries etc. It is our belief that this inter-movement dialogue and action has the potential for galvanising and strengthening the Peoples Reparations International Movement (PRIM) and through that also its constituent part, the International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations (ISMAR).
We have therefore linked up with Extinction Rebellion because of the common interest we share in exposing, tackling and trying to stop the harms of ecocide as well as seeking to bring about a different World Order in which people relate to each other, to the World, Mother Earth and the Cosmos in accordance with the principles of ubuntu. This is what we refer to as Ubuntudunia, (a Pan-Afrikan conception of a world of global justice for all, consisting of the terms ubuntu + dunia which is Kiswahili term for world); something which is possible that our combined efforts with such movements, who are also organising to bring about global justice can achieve. Whilst one of the specific reparations goals of the ISMAR is to establish MAATUBUNTUMAN Pan-Afrkan Union of Communities, part of the work of the PRIM is to achieve Ubuntudunia.
It is the view of the SMWeCGEC that working with the Extinction Rebellion will catalyse the evolution of the Reparations March by facilitating the participation of those who are interested in the Ubuntu Non-Afrikan Allies Bloc of the Reparations March in Extinction Rebellion activities in such a way that furthers our mutual action-learning.
Whilst many critique marching, we see the Reparations March as a dress rehearsal and part of the preparatory process for the development of other tactics and forms of organisation which will lead to the achievement of our strategic objectives of holistic Reparatory Justice. Hence why the SMWeCGEC initiated the ISMAR Advocates training course in 2016 as a springboard to develop the necessary training that is required to organise mass civil disobedience.
We will now make use of the opportunity we have to reflect on the lessons rom this first action-learning encounter with Extinction Rebellion in terms of assessing what possibilities exist, preparing for further dialogue with Extinction Rebellion and working out how we take on board lessons from their experiences of non-violent direct action and mass civil disobedience and how we also respond to their interest in learning from us. One of the key points of action-learning is how non-violent direct action relates to implementation of the aims of the annual Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March.
We take on board the above point made by Extinction Rebellion as it is something which we are also familiar hearing from many critics of the Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March. Hence why the following theme for the 2018 People’s Open Parliamentary Session on Afrikan Reparations (POPSAR) @Parliament Square as part of the programme of the Reparations March:
Be it resolved, the Reparations March, as a form of reparatory justice street protest, is being made inadequate due to inactivity by the majority of its participants in taking steps to advance the campaign for reparations between the annual marches.
Indeed, many have critiqued the Reparations March but have not presented an evidence base for the alternative strategies of tactics which can bring about reparatory justice social change. We as the SMWeCGEC are now also working with allies that are demonstrating with action what alternative tactics can be, through their own self-disciplined, organisation and sacrifice for a cause which they feel is greater than themselves.
It is true, unless those who are serious about the goals of the ISMAR and effecting and securing holistic Reparatory Justice are willing to take organised forms of resistance in the form of planned mass civil disobedience then not much will change. However, this is not a call to undisciplined rioting, this is a call to work for purposeful rebellion by organising people who are willing to work together, to think together, to learn together, to learn from each other, to learn from others including non-Afrikan allies; to strategise as well as build the necessary infrastructure for making such tactics of rebellion a reality.
Esther Stanford-Xosei & Kofi Mawuli Klu holding placard of Dr. Gail Bradbrook, professor of molecular biophysics & co-founder of Rising Up!, which is now helping to organise the Extinction Rebellion
These notes were produced for the purposes of a reparations WhatsApp action-learners group that I a part of. I have decided to share these notes more publicly. They were originally written on 19/04/2018.
“I Is a Long-Memoried Woman“
“You must not abandon discussion out of tact . . . There should be no concession where there is a question of establishing a scientific truth . . . Remember we are focused on a quest for truth and not on a sacrosanct idol we must avoid debasing”
Cheikh Anta Diop [quoted in Ivan Van Sertima, 1986: 13]
“…and when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed but when we are silent we are still afraid
So, it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive”
Audre Lorde, A Litany for Survival, 1978
Greetings Reparations Action-learners!
I am offering some, more thoughts for the purpose of this group and reparations action-learning. I am interested in feedback on the viewpoints I am sharing in the spirit of Maatian ‘reparations dialogue’.
Taken whilst working at the Barbados High Commission, (London) Esther Stanford-Xosei & her father, the late Courtney Stanford
First of all, let me say that I am of the Caribbean to some degree in that I was raised by parents, who were born in the region and continued to maintain links with the countries of Barbados and Guyana where they were born. Despite the fact that my Mother came to the UK in the late 1950’s and my father in 1960, my family and I have maintained these links with community, family, friends and associates in the Caribbean. I have worked at the Barbados High Commission with my late father, who was a ‘British’ Royalist and through him, was entitled to claim citizenship of Barbados by descent which I took out in my 20’s. I have therefore, been on a journey and now locate my identity, journey and struggle (as did my predecessors) within the context of Afrikan people globally not as ‘Black Britisher’ or a ‘Caribbean’ person which are socially engineered identities which have particularly been cultivated within the past 15-20 years.
Many of my reflections and political responses have therefore been shaped by my own experience and what has been learned by my family and communities struggles for advancement, belonging, recognition, justice and development. I must also say that despite the differences in my self-identification and that of my parents, I continue to love them and other family members dearly although we have chosen different life paths in our quest to realise our full-humanity as a result of the damage caused by the Maangamizi.
Esther Stanford-Xosei’s parents, Yvonne Stanford & Courtney Stanford, circa 1963
It is important to realise that we are in a political moment, this can help advance the movement, (International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations (ISMAR), but not the way much of the campaigning and public discourse has been directed so far. The intergenerational mission and goals of the ISMAR is totally absent from this self congratulatory fervour about the apology to so-called “British Caribbeans” and promises of compensation, (remember when we were referred to as ‘Afro-Caribbean’ and then saw ourselves as African-Caribbean?).
As promoted at the recent INOSAAR (International Network of Scholars & Activists for Afrikan Reparations) Birmingham Conference which took place in March, according to PARCOE the intergenerational goals of applied reparations are to:
1. Learn about, recognise and ‘Stop the Maangamizi’ including the horrors of enslavement, colonisation, neocolonisation, recolonization and other imperialist and foreign impositions on Afrikans at home and aboard, including forced Europeanisation and Arabisation.
2. Counter Afriphobia as a manifestation of white-supremacy, eradicating Afrikan dehumanisation, and assertion of the Afrikan personality.
3. Restore Afrikan sovereignty by redressing with MAATUBUNTUMANDLA (Pan-Afrikan Government of Peoples Power) the disrepair in our power and usher in a fundamental change of the existing world order that would definitively bring about new geopolitical realities such as MAATUBUNTUMAN; the antiimperialist sovereign Pan-Afrikan Union of Communities/polity of Afrikan people’s power.
4. Effect systemic change globally to ensure the expropriation and redistribution of ill-gotten wealth, resources and income worldwide.
5. Implement New paradigms of development including a new, international, legal, political, cultural and economic order.
6. Institutionalise the Afrikan cosmovisions and ethical principles of Maat and ubuntu in terms of global justice for all. 1
7. Enforce environmental elements of global justice full respect for Mother Earth/
Nana Asase Yaa rights. 2
We can actually measure how consonant the approaches being taken to campaigning for the ‘Windrush generation’ with the pre-existing and ongoing struggle for Afrikan Reparatory Justice by looking how much or little Windrush campaigning is relating to the aforementioned political goals.
I shall say more about the Caribbean case in relation to the Global Afrikan case for reparations later in this thought-piece.
First of all let me say that we must be mindful that our historical and contemporary oppressors are masters at deception and psychological manipulation.
At the risk of mistakenly being considered insensitive, in the awareness of so many harrowing testimonies of Windrush generation affected persons, I am also interested in why there is so much media and governmental focus on the ‘Windrush Generation’ to the exclusion of all other atrocities and injustices against people of Afrikan heritage. Perhaps it has something to do with the forthcoming 70th anniversary of the landing of the Empire Windrush in 1948, the British establishment-promoted re-conditioning, contemporary ‘seasoning process’ and re-affirmations of benevolent notions of Britishness etc. as well as the elevation of the ‘special relationship’ Britain has with the Caribbean, as did their forebears who colonised the peoples found and brought there.
I have been wondering about the other Commonwealth citizens who may be affected by this British governmental ‘hostile environment’ created around the situation of economic and political migrants who came from the Caribbean and Afrika. Are we certain that it is only ‘Windrush generationers’ that are being affected? Or is this an issue that is happening to other so-called Commonwealth citizens?
The former head of the civil service, Lord Kerslake, said that some ministers were “deeply unhappy” about the introduction of the “hostile environment” strategy under then Home Secretary Theresa May. Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Lord Kerslake, said some saw the policy, which has come under the spotlight during the Windrush row, “as almost reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the way it’s working”, i.e. genocidal!!!3
This matters, because we must be on guard against a select group of us as members of the Afrikan Diaspora being elevated for special concern (apology, compensation etc. which is not being framed as part of Afrikan people’s struggle for reparatory struggles) and not others.
In a recent Guardian article by Kate Osamor, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, she points out that she is dealing with a number of cases within her constituency of Commonwealth citizens being threatened with deportation. Notably, she points out that some of these constituencies come from Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda – all Commonwealth countries and emphasises that countless people came to the UK from Commonwealth countries before 1973. 4
So, I am wondering why we are not hearing the testimonies and further news reporting on other Afrikan people who are citizens of Commonwealth countries. Whose voices and lives are being deemed not to matter, and how are we advertently or inadvertently feeding into this silencing and marginalisation of the narratives of other Afrikans?
“To focus upon and make iconic the arrival of the Windrush in 1948 carrying 492 members of the Global African Diaspora from the Caribbean, a region that imperial Britain had made home to their enslaved Ancestors, is to suggest that there was not an African presence in Britain prior to 1948, including a sizeable number of people from the Caribbean”
It is important to remind ourselves that they were part of the Afrikan Diaspora in Britain and made common cause with their brothers and sisters from the Afrikan continent (and other parts of the Afrikan Diaspora) who were/are also resident in Britain. By projecting ‘The Windrush Generation’ above other Afrikan Diaspora and Afrikan ‘Commonwealth citizens’ we are not only in danger of erasing the contributions and struggles of earlier generations of Afrikans from the Continent of Afrika and from the Caribbean in Britain, we are also feeding into compounding:
“the divisions, generated and reinforced by the British themselves, between African Caribbean people and African people as two separate ethnic groups, rather than as one people with a common heritage and with an interrupted history.”
– Taken from ’70th Anniversary of Windrush 1948 – A View by Professor Gus John’
What is being cultivated in this political moment of spotlight on Windrush is Caribbean exceptionalism based on a special relationship to ‘Britishness’. The Caribbean has been portrayed as a place where people are being sent to as though they are criminals and have done something wrong, this is coming from the testimonies of those who have been affected. There are assertions of people’s right to be British and some of those affected have gone so far as to say “I am an Englishman” (e.g. Junior Green, aged 60, who arrived in the UK when he was 15 months old as part of the Windrush generation). These are all examples of identity erasure and misrecognition. Identity erasure is the act of neglecting, looking past, minimizing, ignoring or rendering invisible an other.
In my view, this distorted sense of self, i.e. individual, collective and community self, is one of the greatest Maangamizi crimes perpetrated by the British state in creating and misusing the economic, political and cultural conditions which compelled many of the so-called Windrush Generation to come to these shores – For it cultivated a sense of natal alienation, the seeds of which were already planted by the systematic dispossession of the descendants of the Afrikan enslaved, social and civil death of Afrikan personhood and personality as well as the subsequent erasure of Afrikan identity which began in the colonies and continued in the British metropolis. All this could only be done because of the British colonial and post-independence CARICOM states-induced forgetting and disassociation from the Afrikan Motherland, as well as devaluation of Afrikan heritage and culture, designed to inculcate in us defence of and servility to the British Empire.
I have even heard reference to the phrase descendants of the Windrush Generation which is a historical departure to the notion of being of Afrikan decent or ‘African descendants’ a term that was popularised following the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. In effect reducing us to just a small aspect of our history and experience of the Maangamizi (i.e. The Windrush Experience); thereby inadvertently denying people of Afrikan heritage a right to everything that has been taken from us and that we are entitled to by virtue of our people’s experiences of the Maangamizi. The entitlement of the whole is being misguidedly reduced to the compromised position of going after a part of our entitlement in terms of narrow proposals for Windrush compensation.
More disturbingly, we are witnessing a weaponizing of the cultivation of ‘Windrush Generation Consciousness’ as an effective form of British state counterinsurgency in order to further prolong aspects of the Maangamizi and counter Afrikan heritage communities resistance to the Maangamizi today; especially in terms of seeking to undermine Afrikan Heritage Communities struggles and advocacy of holistic reparations. In addition to dissuading people of Afrikan ancestry and heritage from identifying as ‘Afrikan’ or of ‘Afrikan heritage’ thereby completely diverting us from waging any real struggle in our own group (collective) best interests resulting in us appealing to our historical oppressors and contemporary oppressors as saviours inculcating in us more forms of servility. What comes to mind in this regard is to look at how fowls are caught, often all it takes is to throw the fowls some corn or feed. The fowl will often go after it, not examining who is throwing the feed, whether it is good for them, genetically modified, or even being used as a bait to kill them etc. On the contrary there are members of the Animal Family that will instead sense some form of danger even when it may appear that they are being offered something good.
What is happening causes a great dilemma e.g.: what is the nature of the fight that we wage in support and defence of those affected? What are we and they fighting for and are they the same thing? This is a question which is not just a personal but also a historical question.
In the GAPP emerging position on CARICOM reparations, it states:
“Claims and case of Afrikan reparations are based on the principle of intergenerational justice and therefore has transgenerational, transnational and intercultural dimensions…As descendants of Afrikans who were enslaved, we are mindful of our ancestral responsibility to ensure that when we speak in their names we do not allow the enslaver’s visions of justice to prevail in advocating what are considered to be adequate reparations. The discourse on reparations has to move beyond merely calling on the name of our ancestors as justification for the genesis of our entitlements to redress today to truly recognising the personhood, worldviews and visions of justice of the Afrikans that were enslaved in the Americas and the Caribbean. … To give primacy to their enslaved status and legal and justice frameworks of their enslavers and their descendants; continues their deracination, invisibilisation and dehumanisation…Wetherefore endorse the view of Professor Chinweizu that our own search for reparations must, of necessity, be tailored to our peculiar condition, to our peculiar experience. In this regard, the measures of reparations must be flexible and account for the ethnic and cultural diversity amongst Afrikans as well as the diverse historical experiences of enslavement, colonialism and their legacies today. Frameworks for Afrikan reparations (including reparations for people of Afrikan origin in the Diaspora), must also addressAfrikan & Afrikan Diaspora epistemologies (ways of knowing) concerning what ‘repair’ means and looks like…Equally, we have a responsibility to future generations to ensure that the decisions we make today do not negatively impact the interests or wellbeing of the unborn and each generation to come. This means that whatever reparations outcomes we seek to effect and secure today leave a better legacy for our children and our children’s children and do not end up looting their freedom account and ability to live lives of dignity as Afrikans and people of Afrikan heritage on this earth.”
Reflecting on several British anti-establishment dramas/films that have been screened in recent times to prepare our minds for the ‘defender of Empire’ role that many of us are being socially-engineered to assume:
‘Hard Sun’ 6
‘The Foreigner’ 8
…it become more visibly apparent that some of us as Afrikan Caribbean people actually end up being the most trusted and loyal servants, defenders and advocates of the British empire/establishment. This defence of the British Empire is not to be conflated with the claim for Afrikan Reparatory Justice which has always been in opposition to Empire and for Afrikan Self-Determination, locally, nationally and internationally.
I am re-sharing aspects of the analysis of I’Nora Kamala (Dr Nora Wittman) in her article ‘Slavery Reparations – A Caribbean or Global African Claim’:
“Indeed, there is a fundamental problem with the recent CARICOM reparations initiative. Basically, that problem is that it is a Caribbean initiative, based on the conceptualization of a ‘Caribbean’ reparations claim. But the claim for transatlantic slavery reparations is not a Caribbean claim, it is a global African entitlement to reparations, and intrinsically so…It is thus crucial to grasp that it is not Caribbean societies and states as such that have a claim to transatlantic slavery reparations – though they will undoubtedly profit in their entirety from comprehensive global African reparations. The structural and most ferocious violence against the African by Europeans is what Caribbean societies were founded upon. Thus, without reparations and healing directed specifically at the African, no healing can come for Caribbean societies. Global African reparations are the heartpiece of healing for Caribbean societies…Yes, Caribbean nations need healing, but the violence that was and still is perpetrated against the African part of the Caribbean was so fundamental to the coming into existence of Caribbean societies that the healing also has the be directed specifically at Africans. And not only Africans in the Caribbean, but Africans globally and especially also on the African continent.”9
In proclaiming the United Nations International ‘Decade for People of African Descent’, Flavia Pansieri (former United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights) said: “people of African descent represent a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected”. People of Afrikan descent’s legal personality is based on being Afrikan not ‘British’, ‘English, ‘Afropean’ or ‘European’. Afrikan people have other options than to confine themselves to a second-class deracinated status of Britishness, they can be also fighting for their ‘right to Afrika’ as is being championed by ENGOCCAR, (the Europe-wide Consultative Council for Afrikan Reparations), who are partners to the ‘Stop the Maangamizi!’ Campaign, in Europe.
What is the Right to Afrika?
Right to return (repatriation) and belong (rematriation) which is one process. One cannot happen without the other. It encompasses the Akan Sankofa principle of going back to fetch your Afrikan personality in material and spiritual terms all routed in the land of Afrika. Your personality includes the continent of Afrika, the land, peoplehood andwealth for Afrikans at home and in the Diaspora. This does not mean that everyone physically has to up and return to Afrika, but that one can enjoy the citizenship rights and responsibilities of being an Afrikan wherever we are. Ultimately it is about seeing yourself as having the right to all the material and spiritual wealth of Afrika to the point that such wealth as a whole ought to be utilised first and foremost for your own personal and community development, wellbeing, security and prosperity in the present and in the future wherever you are.
So here in Britain, for example, anyone of Afrikan heritage should feel entitled to being the main determinant and stakeholder in how the British State and Society bestrelates to the people and continent of Afrika in order to ensure that the benefits of that relationship first and foremost uplift the dignity and standard of living of people in our Afrikan Heritage Communities in this country. Nothing should be done about Afrika by the British State or any of its organisational and individual representatives without respecting the agency of our Afrikan Heritage Communities in determining how this should be done. In effect this means that the power inherent in determining what Britain gets or does not get from Afrika is entirely in the hands of people in our Afrikan heritage communities here inBritain shared only with other Afrikan people throughout the Continent of Afrika and the Diaspora. This gives Afrikan Heritage Communities here in Britain a decisive say in the affairs not only of Afrika but of Britain and the rest of the Euro-American world;which cannot exist and wields the kind of global might and influence they currently have without thestranglehold they have had on Afrika since the full imposition of the chattel enslavement phase of the Maangamizi.
That is why instead of craving for the fake carrot stick of Britishness we should be demanding and fighting to secure global Afrikan citizenship that will entitle people from our Afrikan Heritage Communities to belong not only to one particular country in the Euro-American World but more importantly to Afrika and anywhere else in the World where the crimes of the Maangamizi have been perpetrated and continue to be committed against us by allthe powers of European imperialism.
What is glaringly obvious is the betrayal of CARICOM heads of government and their Caribbean Reparations Commission in terms of saying noting at these CHOGMs (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings) about reparations. Despite recent Emily Thornberry’s assertions about the need for the UK PM to apologise for historic wrongs, this has resulted instead with Theresa May’s apology to ‘LGBT’ communities for “colonial-era anti-gay laws.” 10 It is said that May was responding to calls from LGBT activists for an apology over the UK’s legacy on the issue. Yet despite all this talk of colonial-era legacies, we have not heard a dickie bird from any of the Heads of Government present at these CHOGMs about the cause of reparatory justice for the Afrikan people in the Caribbean, or indeed their own CARICOM ten-point plan!
Rather, the focus has been on decriminalisation of ‘anti-sodomy’ laws in Afrika and the Caribbean. The ongoing struggle for reparatory justice which is at its core a struggle for Afrikan people’s liberation at home and abroad, features nowhere!
Whereas support for and recognition of homonationalism and LGBTI minority rights is what seems to be gaining unprecedented recognition. 11 There is some interesting scholarship on how LGBTI social movement organizations have been engaging internationally and focused on engagement in the Commonwealth as a terrain of struggle.12 It has generally been under-theorised how human rights can be co-opted into imperial political projects, particularly concerning the elevation and promotion of sexual nationalisms:
“Since its formation in 2011, the Kaleidoscope Trust has emerged in the United Kingdom (UK) as the leading institutional actor working internationally on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) human rights. In particular Kaleidoscope as a non-governmental organization (NGO) has been pivotal in defining and developing the Commonwealth as an intergovernmental structure to be engaged by LGBTI social movements. A particularly interesting development has been Kaleidoscope’s leading role in creating The Commonwealth Equality Network (TCEN) as a transnational network of national LGBTI NGOs, to lobby the Commonwealth. 13
In fact, there is a sinister silence from them! After all, the CARICOM claim is based on reparations for Afrikan slavery and native genocide. So, it is clear that CARICOM Heads of Government do not mind seeking to receive benefits on behalf of Afrikan heritage citizenries but fail to represent their interests in international gatherings. Not only have they failed to represent the interests of their citizenries on reparations in these CHOGMs, they are also marginalising the interests of those communities in the Caribbean who have always been linking with Afrika and promoting Afrikan identity such as the Rastafari Community etc. (see the video below for a discussion on LBC radio PARCOE as well as SMWeCGEC Co-Vice Chair, Kofi Mawuli Klu which highlights this point). Instead, we can see them contributing to a form of genocidal ethnic cleansing of Afrikan heritage communities in the Caribbean and denial/marginalisation of the their ancestral as well as contemporary links to Afrika and by extension other Afrikan Diaspora communities.
We as various constituencies of the ISMAR within Europe, Abya Yala (the so-called Americas), including the Caribbean and indeed Afrika should have been better prepared to find raise to raise the issue of reparations for these CHOGMs. This issue was raised with the delegation from the Jamaica National Council on Reparations that visited the UK in November 2017 among a number of other proposals for action that we could take together. However, we have not heard back from them about our proposal for joint-working since. 14
“You cannot successfully oppress a consciously historical people”
John Henrik Clarke
1Cosmovision is a view of the basic nature of the Cosmos, it is fundamentally different than that of European culture. This means that we can’t simply force Afrikan ideas into Western and Eurocentric conceptual categories. A people’s cosmovision can be manifested in and studied via its material culture.
Nana Asasa Yaa is the Earth goddess/deity of the Ashanti people also known as is Nyamewaa (goddess) and is the personification of the planet many people call Earth. She is also identified as the First Woman in the form of Aberewa. She is wife and consort of Nyame Anansi Kokuroko, the Creator of All. There is an Afrikan equivalent of Mother Earth Rights.
11 Homonationalism, coined by Rutgers University professor Jasbir K. Puar in 2007 is the intersection of gay identity and nationalist ideology. According to Puar, as gay people have become “normalized” in Euro-American consciousness, these victories in their struggle for recognition have created space for the homonationalist who abandons intersectional activism and advocates racist, xenophobic, capitalistic self-interest. Homonationalism involves conceptually realigning the ideas invested within the realm of LGBT activism to fit the goals and ideologies of neoliberalism and the far-right. This reframing is used primarily to justify and rationalize racist and xenophobic perspectives. It remains notoriously difficult to define who makes up the “LGBT community”, and particularly what identifying as LGBT means in terms of lifestyle, political goals etc. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/gay-people-supporting-trumphomonationalism_ us_57f3e545e4b01b16aaff4bff
Other concepts to be familiar with are homocolonialism and pink-washing: Homocolonialism – Building upon Lisa Duggan’s notion of homonormativity, and Puar’s homonationalism, Momin Rahman conceptualises homocolonialism as a process of triangulation that legitimises Western exceptionalism illustrating how LGBTI politics is caught up in the promotion of the assumed civilizational superiority of western modernity, and thus opposition to SOGI rights (Sexual Orientation, Gay & Intersex) becomes framed as resistance to western cultural colonialism.
Pink-washing is the invocation of gay rights in order to divert attention from and justify the occupation of the lands and territories as well as the violation of the group rights of colonised and oppressed peoples. The term combines the words pink and whitewashing. In the context of LGBT rights, it is used to also describe a variety of marketing and political strategies aimed at promoting products, countries, people or entities through an appeal to gay-friendliness, in order to be perceived as civilised, progressive, modern and tolerant. Celebrating LGBT rights is a fashionable topic in marketing land. Its main usage is to describe the Israeli government’s ‘deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life’. http://www.nopinkwashing.org.uk/