Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March 2017
“To those caught up in only slogan-mongering about the Afrikan Revolution who self-derisively dismiss mass campaigns such as this one of Reparations, refusing to unfold their own blinds to its crucial significance in our Liberation Struggle; we address our paraphrasing of the remark of Amilcar Cabral that, by taking to the revolutionary path of self-determined Struggle for Afrikan Liberation, the masses of our people are not fighting for ideas in anyone’s head; they are fighting for a true National and Social Emancipation that will guarantee them such concrete benefits as will ensure their material and spiritual prosperity! That is why the AASU-E [All-Afrikan Student’s Union in Europe] sees Reparations from the perspective of Afrikan youth as the actual conscientization of the objectives of our whole people’s Liberation Struggle under the banner of revolutionary Pan-Afrikanism. Therefore the Reparations we the youth of Afrika are demanding must restore to all people of Afrikan origin throughout the World full sovereignty, the absolute ownership of the whole of our Homeland, including all its resources, and the Renaissance of Maat and other value of our classical civilisation, in order to give us the concrete basis for independently achieving our own material and spiritual prosperity.“
Antonieta Carla Santana, ‘Our Struggle for Reparations in Afrikan Youth Perspective’: A Draft Paper for Presentation to the 11th December 1993 Birmingham Working Conference of the African Reparations Movement (ARM-UK)
“Too often our standards for evaluating social movements pivot around whether or not they ‘succeeded’ in realizing their visions rather than on the merits or power of the visions themselves. By such a measure, virtually every radical movement failed because the basic power relations it sought to change remain pretty much intact. And yet it is precisely those alternative visions and dreams that inspire new generations to continue to struggle for change.”
— Robin D.G. Kelley —
The March as the street column of the International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations (ISMAR) is going through a period of change; which involves reflecting on what has been done so far, what have been the gains so far and what more is to be done? including how best to ‘repair’ the movement itself to make it better fit for purpose. So unlike in the past, when the perception of many adherents of reparations was just let’s all go and demand compensation for the wrongs that were done to our Ancestors, it is dawning on the leading activists and increasing members of the Afrikan Heritage Community, that it will take far more programmatic work to win hearts and minds and achieve the true purpose of holistic Afrikan Reparatory Justice which is much more than money! The messaging of the March, via the chants, images displayed on banners and other ephemera has grown to include the context of ‘Stopping the Maangamizi’ in terms of a cessation of violations which is an essential prequisite of effecting and securing reparatory justice as a result of the continuum of enslavement from chattel enslavement through to colonialism and now into this neocolonial phase. So now it is not as easy to dismiss the public and grassroots advocacy of Marchers as being stuck in the past with very little recognition of the continuation of the systems, structures and manifestations of oppression and injustice today. Furthermore, taking into account, that we live in a Britain of state and non-state orchestrated terrorism; care is being taken as to how the form and content of the march should be. So the March is at a crossroads and this has also impacted the amount of people who came out to support the March this year.
However, success of the March should not just be judged in terms of how many people attend each year which seems to be many people’s perception of what constitutes success. But who decides what constitutes success? Success can only be determined by those people in struggle; those who are fighting or organizing for something. If we compare year one of the March with year four you will see that the March has better organisation, clear- consensus-building and decision-making structures, such as the 9 organising Blocs to recognise the diverse constituencies who are pulling together to help strengthen and build the movement.
The March also has clear aims and objectives and clear goals which was not the case for the first March of 2014, as significant as it was. The programme for the March itself has also improved with the introduction in 2016 of the People’s Open Parliamentary Session on Afrikan Reparations (POPSAR). The POPSAR at Parliament Square is a mass consciousness-raising forum for public debate and discourse on manifestations of the Maangamizi necessitating Afrikan Reparations. It is a public forum where Afrikan people rehearse our arguments in pursuit of the ‘battle of Ideas’ on obstacles to the realisation of holistic reparatory justice. The purpose of the POPSAR is to engage audiences in action-learning on participatory democratic parliamentary debate and the ‘battle of ideas’ on critical issues such as how to stop various manifestations of the Maangamizi as part of the process of effecting and securing Afrikan Reparatory Justice.
In addition, the Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee (AEDRMC) and its campaign partner, the Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide Campaign (SMWeCGEC) now have websites which regularly put out reparations focused information and educational content as part of public reparations education which are not being put out elsewhere. Whether people want to recognise it or not, the March has now become a recognised institution and is the most visible and largest activity of the UK contingent of the ISMAR in the yearly calendar of Afrikan organising activities to further the cause of reparatory justice.
“The March visually displays a freedom-fighting unity of Afrikan people from all over the world, on the streets of London, rallying together as one defiant family, inside the belly of the beast; that is no longer happening in Afrikan protests, in any other parts of the world, including those on the Continent of Afrika. I am an Afrikan born and bred in Ghana and I know what the power of this image meaningfully conveys to Afrikans at home and all other peoples across the world“.
Kofi Mawuli Klu, Co-Vice Chairperson SMWeCGEC
It also needs to be recognised that, unlike in CARICOM countries, Emancipation Day is not a public Holiday in the UK and the March this year occurred on Tuesday, when many people are at work. We have also had many reports that people were denied the day off who wanted to take it off and in an economic climate of austerity people want to hold unto their jobs. Regardless of numbers, the focused and sterling organisation of the March is attracting recognition and attention worldwide. It may not also be widely known that the March costs £8000 plus to organise and this is paid for by ordinary people, often the most marginalised in society. So the fact that the March has been able to establish itself and become institutionalised as a key feature of the street column of the ISMAR is in itself an achievement. It is important to note that the March is a totally Afrikan and totally independent, grassroots funded march; no state resources, no funding or resourcing from Black professional classes and elites enables this March to happen! This is important so that the agenda of making a direct challenge to the British state, which the March represents, does not become co-opted or diluted.
Delegation which handed in the 2017 SMWeCGEC Petition
Anyhow, what is clear is that each year there is a constituency that support the SMWeCGEC, 9636 have been courageous enough to sign the petition and advocate its perspectives so far. This is no mean feat given the fact that so many who have a lot to say about what should be done, are not prepared to sign it, and often come up with quite porous reasons as to why they will not attach their name and contact details to the petition. You can read the letter that accompanied the petition hand-in on 1st August 2017 here. This 9636 people are a clear constituency and shows progress from the 5811 who signed the petition last year! This article provides some responses to those who say “what is the point of petitioning?”
On ISMAR strategy & tactics…
Tactics are forms of collective action publicly deployed, whether in-person or via audio, visual, or written media, in service of a sustained campaign of claims making.
What is the strategy?
We are not just marching for the sake of marching, the 1st August Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March is just one of a number of tactics, in an overall multi-layered strategy to ‘Stop the Maangamizi’ (Afrikan Hellacaust of chattel, colonial and neocolonial enslavement), in order to bring about systemic change and revolutionary social transformation of our condition as Afrikan people, as part of building our people’s power to effect, secure and take reparatory justice on our own terms.
The Maangamizi will only be stopped by the collective power and might of our people on the continent and the Diaspora of Afrika, by way of completing the Pan-Afrikan Revolution, (with complete steps, too numerous and unnecessary to fully spell out here), which include the realisation of social change reparatory justice goals of the ISMAR and the People’s Reparations International Movement (PRIM).
Clearly the March, cannot be reduced to be an event that occurs on one day; rather it is organised in such a way as to help advance reparations social movement-building of various constituencies within our Afrikan Heritage Communities. In this regard, priority is given to mobilising our own individual and people’ s collective ‘power to’ effect and secure reparatory justice through community organising, reparations social movement-building and institution-building. Social movement-building is the long-term, coordinated effort of individuals and organised groups of people to intentionally spark and sustain a (reparations) social movement. It entails: “the creation of movement infrastructures required for sustained organising and mobilisation, including social relationships, organisational networks and capacity, affective solidarity, as well as movement-related identities, frames, strategies, skills, and leadership.” No one organisation or institution can supplant the power of a vibrant ISMAR. Successful social change efforts have been led not by individual organisations, but by movements. See here for the difference between organisations and movements.
The Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March, as the street column of the ISMAR is therefore a vehicle for mass mobilisation and education as part of our self-repair and people’s power-building process. It is also a conduit as part of an on-going parliamentary and extra-parliamentary strategy, hence the delivery of the SMWeCGEC Petition charging the British State with the crimes of Genocide and Ecocide and demanding an end to their role in the continuing Maangamizi. The AEDRMC, in partnership with the SMWeCGEC, will continue the year long process of march planning, mobilisation and organisation alongside its ‘Education is Part of the Preparation for Reparations’. Similarly, to compliment these initiatives, the SMWeCGEC is carrying out ISMAR Advocacy Training programmes and the promotion of reparatory justice action-learning programmes and initiatives in preparedness for educating people about how to effect and secure reparatory justice including the methodology for effectively establishing the All-Party Parliamentary (People’s) Commissions of Inquiry for Truth and Reparatory Justice (APPCITARJs) and local benches of the Ubuntukgotla People’s International Tribunal For Global Justice (U-PITGJ), also contained within the SMWeCGEC Petition.
“The issue at stake is whether we want to formulate reparations as a reformist, and even potentially reactionary demand, or as a radical demand for social transformation. A variety of platforms have been developed under the rubric of reparations, and many of these demands can actually serve to strengthen the demands of white supremacy.”
Andrea Smith, ‘Conquest’, p53
The AEDRMC, as facilitators of the annual 1st August Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March organising process in partnership with the SMWeCGEC are in pursuit of comprehensive holistic land-based reparations. This means our reparations as Afrikans in the Diaspora is umbilically connected to the liberation of our Motherland Afrika; including restoration of her sovereignty and the self-determination of Afrikan people worldwide and the establishment of structures of non-territorial autonomy in the Diaspora. As representatives of a diverse array of campaigns organisations and interests groups, we are collectively working for the achievement of the kind of reparations that we can ALL be truly proud of and benefit from. This is necessary to ensure that all of our people, (not just a few) get ‘satisfaction’ out of the results (that also includes our predecessors, our contemporaries and our posterity, i.e. those yet to be born).
However, YOU are encouraged to continue to mobilising and self-organising. The March is NOT the entire Reparations Movement so YOU need to develop complimentary reparatory justice strategies in your own groups, organisations and networks.
There is much dichotomous thinking and many misconceptions among the general public about what tactics movement’s should utilise to best meet their objectives. Movements often select from a repertoire of possibilities available to them at any given time and place. Nevertheless, it is often assumed that adopting one tactic, at a particular point, in time precludes a movement from adopting other tactics at a different time or even simultaneously. Multiple tactics must be undertaken by movements in order to reach and build support among their intended audiences, the multiple publics they are seeking to influence as well as achieve their desired objectives. Nevertheless, there are different tactics that self-reflective movements will use depending on the campaign objectives and goals that different forces within such a movement set out to achieve.
Despite its growing visibility, it is important to emphasize that the March is not the whole ISMAR, it is simply an aspect of it, otherwise known as a column within it, i.e. the street column. However, it is also the case that many movements have characteristically relied on demonstrative or even ‘confrontational’ tactics to advance their cause, and this is still the method of choice for street protest actions. Although movement activists expend a great deal of energy, time, and resources choosing tactics, all tactics are not designed to have the same outcomes or impact, for the tactical choices of a movement often embody the movement’s key demands.
There is a difference for example, between political persuasion (lobbying, voting, petitioning), demonstrative (marches, rallies, vigils, acts of civil disobedience) and economic (boycotts and selective buying) tactics. Boycotts, selective buying, buying-Black, setting up ‘Black’ businesses, group economics, or even cooperative group economics, (which do not take into consideration the reparatory justice political economy of glocal Pan-Afrikan community regeneration and development) alone, will not be sufficient to stop the various manifestations of the Maangamizi that people of Afrikan heritage are being subjected to today. In fact, in some instances our people can get inadvertently caught up in the pursuit of ‘big’ anti-people private business models that promote mal-development, genocidal, ecocidal and slavery-like working practices which contribute to prolonging the Maangamizi. Neither is it the case that ‘political persuasion’ or demonstrative tactics such as lobbying, marching and petitioning alone are enough to stop the various manifestation of the Maangamizi. However, each of the aforementioned combination of tactics can contribute to this overall objective of the ISMAR in different ways and all together unify the diversity of forces necessary for ultimate victory!!!
We are approaching what is often referred to as a ‘revolutionary situation’, the crisis of the European Global Order is worsening more than ever before, their state machineries, political parties and other institutions are crumbling from within, their societies are broken, in some cases beyond repair, and the social forces they command are in disarray. This situation presents us as Afrikan people with great opportunity. There is however, a missing link which is the organised, disciplined political might of the Afrikan masses in concert with the masses of Global Black Humanity, which includes the linking up with and sharing of strategy and tactics among Afrikan Heritage communities of reparatory justice interest and resistance in Europe, Abya Yala, (the so-called Americas), Melanasia, Australasia, Oceania and those on the continent of Afrika.
Accordingly, the AEDRMC in partnership with the SMWeCGEC are engaging in mass mobilisational and popular educational work, action-learning, knowledge-building, mobilisation and organising towards that purpose.
Whilst the March first took place in 2014 under the leadership of the Rastafari Movement UK (RMUK) with a number of supporting organisations, since the introduction of specific March aims and march being facilitated by the AEDRMC, this is a summary of what has been achieved:
• There is now (since 2015), a consolidated stewardship and facilitation of the organising processes for the annual Afrikan Emancipation Day (People’s) Reparations March with the formalisation of the AEDRMC, consisting of a diverse array of Afrikan heritage groups, organisatons, movements and individuals. Most of the committee members, both individual and organisational, have been involved with the March from its inception.
• The AEDRMC and its subsequent partnership with the SMWeCGEC which has helped to consolidate the emergence of an independent ground-up Pan-Afrikan inspired, and initiated, transnational process of leading, mobilising and organising Afrikan people other than the anti-Pan-Afrikan Liberation statist CARICOM Reparatory Justice Programme and their Ten-Point Plan. Despite the fact that reparatory justice organising goes back centuries, there has been little recognition of this by Afrikan heritage social, political and economic elites who, for many decades, have chosen, contrary to our indigenous Afrikan traditions of exercising people’s power, not to identify with the ground-up initiated and led ISMAR. For instance, in 2003 the UK based Black Quest for Justice Campaign supported by PARCOE (Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe), the then Black United Front (UK), the then Global Afrikan Congress (UK) and the then International Front for Afrikan Reparations (IFAR) developed a Ten-Point Plan, as part of a legal and extra-legal strategy to effect and secure Pan-Afrikan Reparations, which continues to be championed by PARCOE. Despite this being one of several reparations focused initiatives emanating from Afrikans in the UK ISMAR, the mass media and some newer reparations focused organisations and activists have tended to defer to the CARICOM Ten-Point Plan, or initiatives taking place in so-called North America, as though there has been no history-making on the part of the prior-existing ISMAR in the UK.
Afrikans in the UK developed a ten-point plan in 2003!
According to Professors Adjoa Aiyetoro and Adrienne Davis in their 2010 article ‘Historic and Modern Movements for Reparations: The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America ...”part of the largely untold history of reparations is the struggle not only for reparations itself, but also the struggle between distinct Black classes over strategies for citizenship and the right to envision the racial future”. The ISMAR, just like any other social movement has its contestations, classed, gendered and other internal struggles.
Representative Sample of ISMAR Collective Leadership, Past & Present
• There is increased engagement with and implementation of the March aims. We are not just marching aimlessly but with a strategy which is in operation at various levels. This means that March facilitators, in partnership with the SMWeCGEC, support the mobilisation and organisation of a core section of the Afrikan Heritage Community of Reparatory Justice Interest who seek to engage in strategic reparations activism and direct their energies to the attainment of specific reparations social-movement-building goals, which are measurable and through which progress can be evaluated. In the process of mobilising and organising together all year-round, the March organising process significantly contributes to transforming activism from being an individualistic approach to a Ujima (collective work and responsibility) approach. Our revolutionary Afrikan ideology will ensure that we can consciously construct the society that we want to build. Although the March aims were in place and operation for the 2015 March, there was not as much take up with implementing the aims as is occurring now.
• Since 2015, a partnership, operational unity and working relationship between the AEDRMC and the SMWeCGEC has been established. In recognition of the fact that the March is not the whole Reparations Movement, the AEDRMC has also embraced the complimentary SMWCGEC goals contained in the SMWeCGEC Petition, both the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 versions. So, whilst the AEDRMC, the March Aims and the SMWeCGEC campaigning aims and goals remain distinct, the fulfilment of both the aims of the March and the SMWeCGEC campaigning aims and goals are mutually constitutive.
The complimentary aims of the SMWeCGEC as a positive action step of reparatory justice campaigning are to:
The above aims and objectives are implemented and worked on all year-round by various organisational members and individuals involved in the AEDRMC and the SMWeCGEC, the Local and Regional March Outreach Teams in addition to the various Blocs of the March. The key point to highlight here is that the aims of the March and the SMWCGEC promote social movement-building, which is part of a people power-building process to be able to effect our people’s reparatory justice will.
Social movements are a type of group action. They are large, sometimes informal, groupings of individuals, organisations and other relevant interest groups which focus on specific political or social issues; and who are organised and organising to promote, carry out, resist or undo social, cultural or political change.
Social movement-building is the long-term, coordinated effort of individuals and organized groups of people to intentionally spark and sustain a social movement.
Social movement forces constantly engage with multiple publics, core constituencies in addition to allies and seek to harness people’s collective power to address systemic problems, redress enduring injustice and promote alternative visions or solutions. It follows that reparations which will meaningfully work for ALL of US as Afrikan People, will only be effected and secured as a result of a MASS MOVEMENT that we continue to build. Our people’s process of history-making thus far teaches us that this is the only way that sustainable and transformative change occurs, despite the reversion to Messianic approaches to reparatory justice change which are being promoted by some sections of the Afrikan Heritage Community; which assume that all we need to do is follow a particular leader who is divinely anointed to lead us to the promised land of reparatory justice, and none can truly get to this post-Afrikan reparations world order but through following such a divinely sent leader!
Whilst it is recognised that movements always use a mixture of tactics, generally have multiple leaders, groups and agendas, ultimately, such reparatory justice will only be effected and secured when we have built and harnessed the POWER to effect our National will and strategic geopolitical interests as people of Afrikan ancestry and heritage.
“It will be gross self-delusive wishful thinking to believe that those wielding the reins of White racist supremacy are going to pay any serious heed to the Afrikan demand for Reparations, unless their hold on the machinery of global power is effectively challenged by the well-organised, upsurgent and self-empowering masses of Afrikan people, and their allied progressive forces throughout the World.”
Kofi Mawuli Klu ‘Charting an Afrikan Self-Determined Path of Legal Struggle for Reparations’: A Draft Paper for Presentation to the 11th December 1993 Birmingham Working Conference of the African Reparations Movement, UK, 1993.
- Since the 2015 March, the AEDRMC has introduced 9 organising blocs relating to specific constituencies as part of the process of reparations social movement-building and maintaining organising processes toward effecting and securing reparatory justice including various processes, programmes and initiatives of self-repair all year round.
- The AEDRMC in association with the SMWCGEC has developed a ‘Education is Part of the Preparation for Reparations‘ curriculum and programme which has consisted of the roll out of educational workshops across London and in other cities to raise reparations related legal and political consciousness. Similarly, the SMWeCGEC has developed the ISMAR Advocates Training Course and other reparations action-learning, education, learning & teaching initiatives.
@ ISMAR Advocates Training Course 13/11/16
- Working in conjunction with the AEDRMC, the SMWeCGEC and the Europe-Wide Consultative Council for Afrikan Reparations (ENGOCCAR), has increased the visibility of the March among Afrikan Heritage Communities and allies in other European countries. This has been significantly enhanced by the translation of the SMWeCGEC Petition, the ‘Take Action’ article on the SMWeCGEC website and the aims and objectives of the campaign into other European languages e.g. French, German and Dutch. This essential work in translating and making reparations campaigning documents accessible to those whose first language is not English has been done by Co-Deputy Secretary of the SMWeCGEC, Marissa Dawuwalla and other members of the SMWeCGEC Team – Europe.
- The March in London has also inspired, engendered, galvanised related marches, campaigning efforts and other pertinent activities, in various parts of the world including Ghana, Jamaica, St Lucia and St Vincent & the Grenadines via its Ujaama-Global Afrikan Family Bloc. For example, the fraternal SANKOFAAPAE (Pan-Afrikan Reparatory Justice International Libation Ceremony) which takes place in Accra, Ghana was initiated in 2016 and also took place on the 1st August 2017.The SANKOFAAPAE Pan-Afrikan Reparatory Justice International Libation Ceremony (SANKOFAAPAE-PARJILC) is a strictly non-party political activity of various grassroots progressive forces of Pan-Afrikan civil society which are independently mobilizing for the ground-up popular education, reparatory justice civic conscientization and its relevant human, peoples’ and Mother Earth rights awareness raising among ordinary masses of peoples throughout the World to achieve our vision of Pan-Afrikan Reparations for Global Justice.We in the March Ujaama Global Afrikan Family Bloc and SMWeCGEC recognise this SANKOFAAPAE as a unity promotional endeavour, of global dimensions, for connecting into the global Pan-Afrikan reparatory justice struggle, the efforts being made by various in Afrikan communities to assert their rights to self-determination and reconstruction of nationhood including overcoming the divisions imposed by the artificially created European borders and other manifestations of the Maangamizi that continue into the present to the detriment of their Afrikan personality, humanity and sovereignty. You can watch the presentation that was made at the 2017 SANKOFAAPAE by Dr Ọbádélé Kambon here:
- The significance of this annual SANKOFAAPAE includes the replay of the process whereby the ripples of the 1945 5th Pan-African Congress in Manchester, Britain took Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah and its other co-organisers including George Padmore, Ras Makonnen, Amy Ashwood Garvey and WEB Du Bois to galvanise the Independence Struggle in Ghana for her to become one of the early nation-states to break open the pathway to reclaiming Afrikan Sovereignty and sounding the clarion for reparations towards securing the total emancipation and unification of Afrikan people on the Continent and in the Diaspora of Afrika as the basis for effecting and securing holistic Pan-Afrikan Reparations for Global Justice.In this regard, The AEDRMC via the Global Afrikan Family Bloc of the March and its related activities such as the SANKOFAAPAE has inspired its co-organisers to now take up the work of lobbying Afrikan Chiefs and other community leaders. An outcome of this lobbying has been to establish the Pan-Afrikan Reparatory Justice Law of Holistic Rematriation/Repatriation Advocacy Network (PARJLOHRRAN). Holistic rematriation and repatriation are highlighted in the SMWeCGEC Petition.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
- In between the 2015 and 2017 Marches, there has been a concerted effort to reach out to, learn from and incorporate the demands and aspirations of communities of reparatory justice interest in Afrika who are still quite marginalised within the programmes and actions of regional contingents of the ISMAR and the PRIM.
- For example, in the 2015 March there was participation of Dali Mpofu from the Economic Freedom Fighters of Azania, (so-called South Africa), engagement with those leading the struggle for the restoration of Biafra and Biafran nationhood, as well as continuing links previously established with representatives of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni Peoples (MOSOP) and the Mau Mau Community of Reparatory Justice Interest. This is part of the Pan-Afrikanist tradition of organising in the UK in general and builds on previous organising efforts such as those of Pan-Afrikanists within the UK and the African Reparations Movement.
- On the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Marches there were also activists from Cote D’Ivoire who came along to highlight the need for raising as a matter of reparatory justice concern fighting to release Afrikan Liberation political prisoners such as Laurent Gbagbo and Omah Simone Gbagbo.
- Similarly, on the 2015 and 2016 Marches, Freedom-Fighter and West Papua Independence Leader Benny Wenda and the Free West Papua campaign were also on the March representing West Papuans and other Black Communities of Reparatory Justice Interest in Melanasia, Australasia, and Oceania. The SMWCGEC continues to work with such diverse communities of Afrikan reparatory justice interest from the Continent and Diaspora of Afrika who are represented in Britain to amplify their voices and increase the visibility of the reparatory justice struggles they are waging on the March.
- Our emphasis has been on relating to reparations, not just as a legal case or claim and political struggle, but also as an international social movement. This speaks to the issue of mobilising and building our individual and collective people based power, knowledge and influence through community organising and social movement-building to bring about the reparations objectives we desire by resisting, challenging, and transforming the power against us that denies us reparatory justice. In terms of what can be considered success from the perspective of those of us who see ourselves as part of the ISMAR, this is not only being measured against the aims of the March and those of the SMWeCGEC, but also in relation to the fact that more and more people are identifying as being part of the ISMAR and are organising and mobilising accordingly. By this we mean, being social movement adherents who are developing ground-up leadership, learning by participation in reparations social-movement-building actions and engaging in all year-round activism. In effect, more and more people are: taking leadership; becoming activists as well as rank-and-file participants in the ISMAR; identify as being part of this ‘movement’; and relate their own activist and organising endeavours to movement-building.
- Greater amounts of people are taking action on the SMWeCGEC Petition and its campaign aims and goals including lobbying MP’s and other elected officials to support the demands contained on the ‘Stop the Maangamizi’ Postcard and adhering to the SMWeCGEC Guidance on Proposals for Parliamentary Action.
Afrikan Reparationists are playing a leading role in building the Academic column of the ISMAR through which the March and the SMWeCGEC are being critically studied
- The March organising process, accompanied by the SMWeCGEC is now being studied and analysed in terms of their contribution to activist led knowledge-production and co-production on reparatory justice as part of action-research that is led by Afrikan heritage community based scholar-activists, primarily organising under the banner of the Afrikan Reparations Transnational Community of Practice (ARTCoP), but who have also engaged with establishment academia and contributed to the 2015 ‘Repairing the Past, Imagining the Future: Reparations and Beyond‘ International Interdisciplinary Event at the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with Wheelock College (Boston US). In addition, members of the SMWCGEC and the AEDRMC contributed to shaping the 2016 ‘From the Transatlantic Slave Trade to Engaging the Maangamizi ‘conference which took place at Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The SMWeCGEC in partnership with the March are also being promoted within the emerging International Network of Scholars & Activists on Afrikan Reparations (INOSAAR) which will be launched in London on 21st October 2017 in association with academic researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Wheelock College (Boston, USA). The INOSAAR will bring together activists and scholars to explore the development of academic spaces for institutionalising work on Afrikan reparations. This launch of the INOSAAR in London will be the first of four events being organised by the INOSAAR; the first series of events continues from London through Birmingham, Paris and Porto Novo (Benin). The London launch is being coordinated in collaboration with PARCOE, through which engagement is being developed with the ARTCoP, as a special grassroots academic interest network of the ISMAR.
How the SMWCGEC enhances the purposefulness of the March
The March is a mass mobilisational and organisational vehicle for delivery of the SMWeCGEC Petition. Some have likened the petition and its campaign goals of establishing All-Party Parliamentary Commissions of Inquiry for Truth & Reparatory Justice (APPCITARJs) at the levels of the Westminster and European Parliaments, to ‘begging’ those most responsible for causing our Maangamizi, to repair us or that it is futile because the British Establishment will never meet this demand. This is simply not the case. In the SMWeCGEC Petition, we say :“We affirm” that WE, as members of the Afrikan Heritage Community are charging the British state with acts of Genocide/Ecocide against people of Afrikan heritage, within and beyond the UK. In reality we are affirming this rather than begging the State.
It is our firm view that the demand for such a APPCITARJ is very possible to be realised if we mount people’s political pressure at every level. The process of establishing such an APPCITARJ will itself raise awareness on the part of Afrikan people, of our right to holistic reparations and is part of a legal, extra-legal, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary strategy, which enables and supports the development of mass popular legal consciousness-raising about the legitimacy of our reparations case and the necessity to stop current manifestations of the Maangamizi harms that we continue to suffer. Given that the established legal disorder of unjust law , which has violated Afrikan people’s legal rights for 500+ years, has worked hard to deny the legitimacy of our people’s reparations claims, under the guise that slavery was legalised by Europeans, the assertion by Afrikan people of our right to reparations is fundamental to reparatory justice social change-making. Such social change being necessary to transform the old global order, which denies responsibility for the Maangamizi, as well as the legitimacy of our people’s global case for reparatory justice, and the Post-Reparations World Order, where such Maangamizi denial is criminalised and the consequences of the Maangamizi are redressed and holistically repaired.
This is an aspect of charting an Afrikan self-determined path of legal struggle for reparations (i.e. struggle by use of the law as a form of resistance) which is advocated by Kofi Mawuli Klu, co-founder member of the ‘Stop the Maangamizi’ campaign in his 1993 Paper ‘Charting an Afrikan Self-Determined Path of Legal Struggle for Reparations’. The key components to such a self-determined legal path of struggle include:
- Demystification of the law.
- Legal creativity.
- Afrikan popular democratic involvement in the law-making process.
- Recognition of the criminal injustice of enslavement, colonisation and neo-colonisation from the perspective of the legal consciousness of Afrikan people.
- Judging the crimes and wrongs of enslavement in accordance with Afrikan law
- Promoting mass adjudication of the Afrikan and other indigenous Peoples cases for reparations through grassroots benches of the Ubuntukgotla Peoples International Tribunal for Global Justice.
- International legal strategies on the formulation and prosecution of the Afrikan case for reparations.
In light of the history of Afrikan people’s experience of violence from systems of hegemony imposed by European elites, for the purposes of defending an imperialistic White supremacy racist system of wealth, privilege and power, we are not advocating the unnecessary spilling of our blood and loss of life of our people by taking actions which we are not yet adequately prepared for, as a group within the UK and Europe, i.e. politically, organisationally, militarily or otherwise. Rather, we see the SMWeCGE campaign advocating a process of non-violent direct action, in the first instance, which calls upon the UK Government and the European Parliament to:
“…live up to its declarations of commitment to global respect for universal human rights, good governance and democracy in acknowledging and addressing the social and economic legacies of enslavement on contemporary generations of Afrikans and people of Afrikan heritage. We believe that establishing the All-Party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry for Truth & Reparatory Justice will go a long way towards institutionalising a reparative truth-seeking process that will contribute to healing and restoring the descendants of the enslaved and facilitating racial justice and equity between the descendants of the enslaved and the enslavers as well as in the wider society. However, such “repair” of the relationship between people of Afrikan heritage and the rest of society cannot take place without public acknowledgement of the crimes against Afrikan people and their descendants over five centuries and counting, and without UK governmental action to enable redress and reparation for the brutal injustices committed in the past which still continues into the present. We call upon the British state to honour the need and right of the descendants of the enslaved to speak in a public forum, provide testimony and evidence of how the legacies of enslavement are resulting in continued human and peoples’ rights violations, impaired quality of life and the ensuing destruction of the essential foundations of life for Afrikan people today.”
The SMWeCGEC is also galvanising grassroots work towards establishing glocal sittings of the Ubuntukgotla Peoples International Tribunal for Global Justice (U-PITGJ) as part of a series of actions which will put a full stop, by way of holistic and transformative reparations, to all acts of Genocide/Ecocide against Afrikan people.
It is important to note that the APPCITARJs, combined with the establishment of glocal sittings of the U-PITGJ are essential to legitimize other forms of direct action, which are increasingly being resorted to by communities of Afrikan Reparatory Justice Interest especially in Afrika, more so given the fact that the demands contained within the SMWeCGEC are not as yet being met by non-violent means. The SMWeCGEC therefore acts as an important catalyser to continue the process of Afrikan People’s self-liberation to victory and in the process to effect and take Reparations by our own efforts.
First Nation Brother & Sister from Australia and Fiji – Ghillar Michael Anderson, Convenor of the Sovereign Union of Aboriginal Nations and Peoples in Australia and Head of State of Euahlayi Peoples Republic & Fijian Lawyer, Oni Kirwin representing the Fiji Native Government in Exile, domiciled in Australia
Notably, the SMWeCGEC has been helping to consolidate the PRIM of which the ISMAR is part, through participating and helping to shape the Spearhead Pacific Alliance and BOOMERANGCIRCUIT Preparatory Conference for the 2017 Pacific Alliance Gathering of Colonised Peoples & Sovereign Peoples Union for Global Justice through Decolonisation and Reparations (11-14/10/16). This prep conference produced the ‘London Statement of Common Purpose’ arising from this momentous event, which continues in the best Black radical traditions in our Peoples making of world history. The International Consultative Preparatory Forum (ICPF) was initiated by, members of the SMWeCGEC and the AEDRMC working through the Popular Educational Complex of Black Empowerment Action Learning (PECOBEAL) and the Global Afrikan People’s Parliament (GAPP) in partnership with the First Nations ‘Spearhead Pacific Alliance’ on Decolonisation and Reparations in alliance of Tribal Chiefs, Rulers, Lawmen and Law women and includes the Sovereign Union of First Nations and Peoples of Australia ; the Union of British Columbian Chiefs who are non-Treaty Nations; and colonized Pacific Nations, including the Fiji Native Government-in-Exile.
Reparations by our own people’s power
Adapted version of Jean-Jacques Dessalines Original Haitian Flag
Our history shows us that the greatest examples of us effecting and securing reparatory justice is by our own people’s efforts, such as in the case of the Haitian Revolution.
Drawing from and reformulating the notion of reparations enforcement, the SMWeCGEC also advocates a form of reparations enforcement. Reparations enforcement is the 21st century reparations activism paradigm. Armed with the various programmes and declarations that have sought to address our people’s condition, wedded to our definition of reparations, we have moved from the position of simply advocating for reparations to that of enforcing our human, people’s and Mother Earth rights to be repaired.
A reparations enforcer is a person, organisation, or state who has an understanding, and acts upon that understanding, that reparations for people of Afrikan heritage is a vital matter of asserting human, peoples and Mother Earth rights.
The reparations enforcer effectively identifies and uses their internal resources to move the injuring parties – governments, corporations, institutions, or individuals – to stop manifestations of the Maangamizi, first and foremost; contribute to building healthy alternatives to the harmful manifestations of the Maangamizi, including such alternatives that will ensure the healing, repair, restoration, nation-building and sovereignty of Afrikan heritage communities.
“Reparations is like freedom, nobody gives you reparations, reparations is something you have to take”
Prophet Kwaku 2014, Co-Chair, Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee
“I believe that there are now two reasons why people have not embraced this cause as their own. One is skepticism, and the other is racism, one doubts whether we can succeed, the other hopes that we do not. I do not have much to say to the racist, the one who wishes to deny us our rights only because of our colour. But I do have a few words for the [person] who though [he/she] wished us well, believes that we have taken on more than we can accomplish. I remind him that Samuel Johnson said that ‘nothing will be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.’ And finally, I refer him to James Baldwin, who said, I know that what I am asking is impossible. But in our time, as in every time, the impossible is the least that one can demand. And one is after all emboldened by the spectacle of human history in general, and [Afrikan Diaspora] history in particular, for it testifies to nothing less than the perpetual achievement of the impossible“
(bracketed text changes to reflect contemporary usage of terms).
Bashorun M.K.O Abiola, extracts from an address on ‘Reparation: Progress Report and Future Prospects’ – delivered in London on 3 May, 1992
Please note, this update has been written by the SMWeCGEC Team although some of the members of the Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee are also members of this team. That being said, the SMWeCGEC Team takes full responsibility for the views and information presented expressed above.