Thought-Piece on the Pitfalls of Windrush Generation Caribbean
Exceptionalism and the Potential for Increased Divide & Rule in the Quest to
Effect and Secure Afrikan Heritage Reparatory Justice
Please note, these are notes written by ‘Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide!’ Campaign (SMWeCGEC) Coordinator-General, Esther Stanford-Xosei; co-produced as a result of scholar-activism under the auspices of the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe (PARCOE), the Global Afrikan People’s Parliament (GAPP) and the SMWeCGEC.
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
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So, it is better to speak
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.
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?
As Professor Gus John has stated in his recent commentary ‘70th Anniversary of Windrush 1948 – A View by Professor Gus John’ 70th Anniversary of Windrush 1948 – A View by Brofessor Gus John:
“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…We therefore 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 address Afrikan & 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 and wealth 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 best relates 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 in Britain 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 the stranglehold 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 all the 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
1 Cosmovision 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.
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/
See this link for my own encounters with homonationalism/s in the workplace
“The future will have no pity for those men and women who possess the exceptional privilege to speak the words of truth, instead have taken refuge in an attitude of cold complicity and mute indifference.“
Revised quote from Frantz Fanon, ‘Toward the African Revolution: Political Essays’, 1994
Greetings Supporters of the ‘Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide!’ Campaign (SMWeCGEC)
The letter from Esther Stanford-Xosei deals with the response from Foreign & Commonwealth Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad to the 2017 ‘Stop the Maangamizi!’ Petition and its accompanying correspondence.
The exchanges so far show that as much as sections of the Labour Movement are becoming more interested in communications with certain constituencies of the International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations (ISMAR), there is a greater need to ensure that the Labour Party is challenged to develop a correct way of dealing with the issues raised in the correspondence and our Afrikan Heritage Communities in consonance with the ethics of reparatory justice. This must also be done in such a way that recognises Afrikan people’s human and people’s right to Substantive Afrikan Heritage Community Representation.
What this means is that Labour Party is being challenged by SMWeCGEC and other Afrikan Reparations campaigners to engage in ‘institutional self-repairs’ in the ways it deals with Afrikan Heritage Communities and our autonomous community organisations as well as the issues that concern us. Only by doing so, will it become a worthy stakeholder with locus standi in Afrikan Heritage Community reparatory justice engagements.
In livicated Service!
Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide! Campaign International Steering Committee Spearhead Team (ISC-SMWeCGEC)
The International Steering Committee of the ‘Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide!’ Campaign (ISC-SMWeCGEC) sees this laudable contribution of the emergent INOSAAR as a major new development of the intellectual arsenals necessary for tackling Afriphobia and other manifestations of the genocide/ecocide; particularly its mentacide within and beyond educational institutions which are some of the most mentally devastating crimes scenes of the still ongoing Maangamizi for which holistic reparatory justice is urgent.
Article photo: Opening panel discussion at the launch of the INOSAAR on 21st October 2017 featuring:
Kofi Mawuli Klu: Questioner
The INOSAAR network events being organized are specifically designed for people who are already part of a social movement or researchers invested in related fields. As such, participants should have a track record in reparations-related activism and/or research (for example, by engaging in attempts to stop contemporary manifestations of the Maangamizi and other forms of external reparations or internal self-repair), and/or independence struggles, the pan-Afrikanist movement and/or anti-racism campaigns.
Read on to find out more about the INOSAAR ‘Principles of Participation’.
PRINCIPLES OF PARTICIPATION
International Network of Scholars and Activists for Afrikan Reparations (INOSAAR)
Although the INOSAAR was launched on 21st October 2017, these principles were revised in November 2017
The International Network of Activists and Scholars for Afrikan Reparations (INOSAAR) is a collaborative project that is being coordinated by the University of Edinburgh (UK) and Wheelock College (Boston, US). This work is being funded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Research Networking Grant and falls under their highlight notice relating to the UN International Decade for People of African Descent (2015–24). Its purpose is to create an international network dedicated to reparations and other forms of transitional justice for the enslavement and genocide of peoples of Afrikan descent, the invasion of the Afrikan continent by colonial powers (notably France and Britain) in the quest for new areas of political and cultural influence and economic expansion, and the subsequent oppression and deformation of Afrikan identity that arose from this. The network will seek to explore this subject through the rich variety of research specialisms within both the arts and humanities and the social sciences, and will do so in collaboration and consultation with grassroots activist groups engaged in the struggle for reparations and government-linked groups capable of influencing social change.
Background and Rationale
On 5–7 November 2015, Professor Joyce Hope Scott (Wheelock College) and Dr Nicola Frith (University of Edinburgh) coordinated a major international conference entitled ‘Repairing the Past, Imagining the Future: Reparations and Beyond’. The conference marked two important dates in the abolitionist calendar: the two-hundred-year anniversary of the first international agreement to abolish slavery during the Congress of Vienna of 1815; and the 150th anniversary of the Thirteenth Amendment through which slavery was formally abolished in the US. These two anniversaries provided an important socio-political context in which to discuss the subject of reparations from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, while exploring the different national contexts in which social movements linked to reparations are operating. Importantly, the conference also included a number of UK-based activist groups who voiced concerns about the asymmetrical power relations at work when academics, operating within elite institutions, engage with reparations. They called upon academics to acknowledge these power imbalances and pay attention to what Choudry explains as the tendency of ‘professionalized “experts” or university-based intellectuals’ to ignore, render invisible or overwrite ‘the voices, ideas, and indeed theories produced by those engaged in social struggles’ (Choudry, 2015). As such, they called for the promotion of a more egalitarian space for knowledge exchange and collaboration that would set out ‘to recognize how power and inequality shape context’ and understand how ‘academics situated within powerful institutions are inevitably implicated in the social inequalities that result’ (Croteau, Hoynes and Ryan, 2005).
These calls lie at the root of our current project to unite the efforts of scholars and activists in a combined quest to contribute positively to advancing the question of reparations for Afrikan enslavement. We are committed to a non-extractive process of ethical scholarship that recognizes the existence of a grassroots International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations (ISMAR) to which we are accountable. We also recognize the inextricable links between the ISMAR and the Peoples Reparations International Movement (PRIM), and are willing to learn from the cross-fertilization of scholarship, principles, strategies and tactics, and from the common and diverse experiences which shape their various constituencies, thinking and practices as pro-reparations forces.  This document outlines our shared principles of participation and a working framework of ethical scholarship that will seek to address some of the failings and oversights of Euro-centric academic endeavours and ensure the longevity of our partnership going forward.
Building the INOSAAR: Aims and Objectives
The central purpose of the INOSAAR is to assist in the consolidation of a growing Afrikan global reparations movements by uniting activists and scholars, and developing a strong youth-led base to ensure the sustainability of this movement. We do so in full cognisance of the history of these movements, most notably with reference to the pan-Afrikanist struggle and its desire to unite the Afrikan continent, to unify Black people and to bring an end to racism, as well as the Abuja Proclamation of 1993 which calls ‘upon the international community to recognize that there is a unique and unprecedented moral debt owed to the Afrikan peoples which has yet to be paid’.
Our nine stated aims and objectives are as follows:
1. To develop a more coherent research agenda for understanding reparations across disciplinary boundaries and address the inadequacy of scholarship outside of Afrikan-American and nation-centred contexts;
2. To improve the recognition of knowledge-production partnerships between scholars and activists working on Afrikan reparations and to establish a partnership that is enduring and international;
3. To provide opportunities for researchers and activists to engage in a process of bilateral knowledge exchange, with the longer-term view of contributing positively to the work of grassroots and activist organisations and the building of the ISMAR in link with the PRIM;
4. To support the development of youth and student engagement, involvement and proactivity, notably through the creation of a youth-led auxiliary fellowship of the INOSAAR, popularly named in short as RepAfrika, and through the establishment of a related mentorship scheme;
5. To build the INOSAAR in order to support the work of activists and scholars by providing global legitimacy and visibility to the broad spectrum of viewpoints in the reparations debate and the diversity of their exponents, particularly as state and non-state actors;
6. To support the struggle for the voluntary repatriation/rematriation for peoples of Afrikan descent to any Afrikan country of their choice, with due respect for indigenous communities and their own reparations interests, through the granting of citizenship, the removal of visa and customs requirements, and the creation of socio-economic, political and cultural reinsertion programmes in harmony with those already domiciled in such countries;
7. To establish a recognisable network consisting of registered participants with a commitment to adhering to its rules, principles and obligations;
8. To impact positively upon public and political (mis)conceptions about reparations (for example, the false idea that reparations are some kind of ‘paycheque’) by providing academically rigorous outputs of use to academic and non-academic audiences, and by supporting the development of decolonizing curricula of reparatory justice;
9. To ensure that each of the four inaugural events organized through INOSAAR and its partners, starting in London, then Birmingham and Paris, and finally Porto Novo in Benin, form one continuum in our collective efforts to advance the question of reparations.
To assist with the process of building this network, we are working with different academic and activist partners based in Europe, Afrika, India, the Caribbean, Latin America and the US (see below). Network members and other participants will engage in a series of four workshops and conferences to stimulate discussion, with emphasis being placed on bilateral knowledge exchange between activists and scholars operating within different national contexts. Events will be organized in collaboration with our partners in London (21 October 2017) with the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe (PARCOE), in Birmingham (17 March 2018) with Birmingham City University, in Paris (16–17 May 2018) with the Centre International de Recherche sur les Esclavages (CIRESC), and in Porto Novo in Benin (19–21 September 2018) with the Association pour une réparation globale de l’esclavage (APRGE) and the Musée da Silva. These events are designed to impact positively on academic–activist working relations and to lay the groundwork for future collective action. They aim to work through, and acknowledge areas of tension, while working towards shared and more expansive definitions of reparations that are inclusive of cultural and transnational approaches. Calls for papers and other forms of participation will be circulated through the network prior to each event. Funds have been put aside to assist with the transportation and accommodation costs for a limited number of those without institutional support.
Principles of participation
Principles relating to participants
1. The events being organized are specifically designed for people who are already part of a social movement or researchers invested in related fields. As such, participants should have a track record in reparations-related activism and/or research (for example, by engaging in attempts to stop contemporary manifestations of the Maangamizi and other forms of external reparations or internal self-repair), and/or independence struggles, the pan-Africanist movement and/or anti-racism campaigns;
2. Participants must be committed to taking part in any necessary follow-up work;
3. Participants must be prepared to engage in cross-community and cross-disciplinary dialogue with other reparations knowledge-producers;
4. Participants need to be prepared to submit their work to intellectual scrutiny in recognition of the fact that we all have partial knowledge;
5. The network and its participants need to show their commitment to accountability and transparency, and to be accountable according to these principles to ensure that everyone is working from a shared basis of understanding.
Principles relating to shared values
• Mutual respect and reciprocity: participants will be open to, and interested in learning from, each other. They will recognize the value of each other’s knowledge and experience in order to meet the aims of the project. This will include offering people a range of incentives to engage, which will enable us to work in reciprocal relationships with professionals and with each other, where there are mutual responsibilities and expectations;
• Equality: everyone has assets. Co-production starts from the idea that no one group or person is more important than any other group or person. Everyone is equal and everyone has assets to bring to the process, such as skills, abilities, time and other qualities;
• Equity in collaboration: the INOSAAR will develop a culture of equal value and respect for all disciplines. For shared learning to truly be effective, all those contributing knowledge must feel valued and respected as equals at the table;
• Cognitive justice: the INOSAAR will uphold justice of equity in all knowledges, with no one form of knowledge privileged over another;
• Politics of resourcefulness to develop solidarity: the INOSAAR will adhere to the ethical principle of resourcefulness, meaning that we will purposefully channel resources available to different members (such as time, research funds, technology, expertise, networks etc.) with a shared aim of designing and answering questions of importance and direct benefit to academic and activist participants; 
• No racism or xenophobia, including Afriphobia, will be tolerated.
Principles relating to recognition
• Recognize that there is a social movement/s for reparations and this requires certain ethics that are expected when working and researching this movement/s. Referred to here as the ISMAR, in link with the PRIM, such movements are viewed as a generators of concepts, analyses, theories and inquiries. Researchers must acknowledge and take seriously the ethical responsibility to respect the ontological and epistemological frameworks of knowledge production that emerge from the ISMAR, in link with the PRIM;
• Recognize the existence of historical (and contemporary) reparations work, research and other initiatives at regional, national and transnational levels and that reparations scholarship and action is informed by intergenerational knowledge; 
• Recognize that research and theorizing are fundamental components of many social struggles and movements for change, and that these movements are significant sites of knowledge production. Link to this, there is a need to recognize the intellectual labour that underpins reparations organizing and activism. We also need to recognize the importance of learning not just about the experiences and actions of activists, but also about their ideas, knowledge and theoretical outlooks;
• Recognize that knowledge production is being advanced by diverse sections of grassroots academia and others from the global academic commons, and has its own institutional formations, such as the Afrikan Reparations Transnational Community of Practice (ARTCoP), grassroots reparations education and outreach teams of the Stop the Maangamizi Campaign in partnership with the Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee, etc.;
• Recognize and respect the role of grassroots researchers and scholar-activists, and avoid the imposition of researcher-led categories by seeking to understand the ISMAR and other reparations movements according to their own analytic or descriptive terms. As such, respect the capacity for people to speak for themselves, to posit their own vocabularies, cartographies and concepts of the world, and to articulate their own categories of analysis. To support this, the INOSAAR will develop an annotated lexicon of (in)acceptable terms;
• Recognize and respect endogenous and Afrikan knowledge systems, the elders and the ancestors, while being mindful of the fact that such knowledge is often transmitted orally. As such, respect Hampâté Bâ’s adage that in Afrika, ‘when an old person dies, a library burns’ (UNESCO, 1960). Wherever possible, INOSAAR events will begin with prayers and libations led by a spiritual leader;
• Recognize the existence of multiple forms of knowledge, the benefits of co-producing knowledge as an interactive rather than extractive process, and the value of different methods of knowledge dissemination, presentation and use;
• Recognize the importance of the arts as valuable forms of (embodied) knowledge and their potential in terms of therapy, healing and repair;
• Recognize the interconnectedness of all we do as part of this network, including the various workshops, while understanding that the goals of activists and academics are often different;
• Recognize and minimize power dynamics among and between network participants.
By adhering to these principles, we aim to reflect on the following questions:
1. How should we define the following terms: knowledge-production; co-production; reparations; scholar; activist; scholar-activist; social movement-building?
2. How best do activists and academics work together?
3. What are the potential beneﬁts that result from successful collaborative eﬀorts?
4. What are the barriers to meaningful collaboration between academics and activists?
5. How do we overcome the obstacles that make collaborative work diﬃcult?
6. How do we as theorists and practitioners establish mutually beneﬁcial collaborative relationships?
7. What does ‘good practice’ in a co-production project look like?
8. What does co-production in relationship building look like?
9. How do we value knowledge across disciplines and across domains of practice?
10. How do we harmonise our distinct understandings of what it means to make a contribution?
11. How do we minimise the possible harmful impacts of resource and status diﬀerentials, among prospective network members?
12. What lessons can we learn from existing eﬀorts to bridge the academic-activist divide?
Roles, Responsibilities and Decision-Making
Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator
Dr Nicola Frith (University of Edinburgh) is the principal investigator (PI) and Professor Joyce Hope Scott (Wheelock College) is the co-investigator (Co-I). The PI and Co-I will be responsible for the general running of the network. The PI is specifically responsible for the overall management of the project and its budget, while both will assist in the following tasks: organizing the workshops and conferences; liaising with network members, project partners, activist groups, and other interested persons and institutions; assisting with website design and content; collating information to update the website, including the online curatorial project; preparing summary documents and the public report; writing a book proposal for a co-edited volume; and co-writing any academic publications.
Activist, Research Institutions and Other Partners
The first workshop in London 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. In this initiative PARCOE is represented by its co-vice chairs Kofi Mawuli Klu and Esther Stanford-Xosei.
Workshops 1 and 2 in Birmingham and Paris are being coordinated with our two European institutional partners: Birmingham City University (BCU) (Kehinde Andrews, Lisa Palmer) and the Centre international de recherches sur les esclavages (CIRESC) (Myriam Cottias, Nathalie Collain). BCU has just launched the first undergraduate degree programme in Black Studies in the UK and CIRESC is the main centre for slavery studies within the French Republic and has recently launched a new cross-institutional project on reparations, entitled REPAIRS.  Both institutions are providing meeting venues free of charge and are contributing by devoting their time to assisting with the organization of the respective workshops.
The final conference is being held in Porto-Novo in Benin and being organized in collaboration with the APRGE, and with the support of the Musée da Silva and King Kpoto-Zounme Hakpon III of Porto-Novo, who in 2013 made a public apology for the role his ancestors played in the slave trade. The Bight of Benin was a primary site for the transatlantic slave trade and is home to an important UNESCO world heritage site, the ‘Porte de Non-Retour’ (‘The Door of No Return’) at Ouidah. Significantly, the government of Benin has a division in the Ministry of Culture for the ‘Return and Reconciliation of the Diaspora’, which has facilitated the repatriation of peoples from Brazil, Haiti, Guadeloupe and Martinique, many of whom will be participating in our conference alongside dignitaries, notably the Kings of Oyo, Bè and Accra. On 3 June 2017, the APRGE and the Musée da Silva hosted a pre-colloquium in Porto-Novo, generously funded by Karim da Silva, which resulted in the collation of demands linked to reparations.
The INOSAAR is intended to be a growing network and we are seeking to expand our membership with active participants who adhere to our mutually agreed ‘Principles of Participation’. During the initial grant-writing phase, the PI and Co-I approached activists and academics based in the UK, France, West Afrika, the Caribbean, US, Latin America and India who are known to be engaged in the struggle for reparations. After winning the AHRC Research Networking Grant, additional members and interested parties were added to the distribution list. The construction of the website map (see below) will lead to the addition for further contributors to the INOSAAR.
Research assistant and webteam
We currently employ one research assistant, Lucie Madranges, who is funded through the University of Edinburgh Knowledge Exchange and Impact scheme. Lucie is collating important information for the website and is assisting with the translation (English to French; French to English) of key documents. The website is being constructed by a team based at the University of Edinburgh under the leadership of our website designer, David Oulton. Lucie and David both have prior experience of working on this subject having been involved in the construction of a website dedicated to memories of enslavement and activist groups based in the French Republic. 
Decision-Making Processes and Consultation
As noted above, each of the workshops are collaborative efforts between different partners. At each stage of the organization, decisions are made either through face-to-face or interactive meetings (minutes are available). Smaller decisions in terms of the daily running of the network are managed through regular telephone meetings between the PI, Co-I, research assistant and webteam. Wider consultations with the INOSAAR are conducted through a dedicated email address (email@example.com) to which the PI, Co-I and research assistant have access. Key items for consultation with partners and/or the INOSAAR include: principles of participation; website content and construction; workshop content and creative ideas for presentation; written outputs, notably the reports that will follow each of the four events and the final report summarizing our collective findings. Centrally, we are concerned with building relationships and a community that is based on cooperation, empowerment and the alleviation of power differences among parties, that engages in creative and innovative ways to solve problems, and that give equal weight to the voices of all participants.  To that end, decision-making is a shared responsibility among the INOSAAR. The global expansion of the network will require the development of other supporting organs for effective steering and decision-making at various levels, conducive to the achievement of the aims and objectives of the INOSAAR.
Communicating and Disseminating Our Collective Work
In order to produce work that is of use to activist and grassroots organizations, and also contribute to changing public perceptions about reparations, we are creating a website and will be compiling a downloadable public report.
The website will provide an important virtual space in which communities and members can actively participate in discussions and upload presentations prior to, during and after the events. More broadly, it will serve as an educational tool to combat public and political misconceptions about reparations, and an archival space to showcase past and present reparation movements across the world. It will also include a fully searchable map with information about researchers and centres, and activist organizations in operation today.
A public report will be written up towards the end of the project and will present a historical overview of the diversity of reparation movements and outline practical strategies for moving beyond theory and towards the implementation of reparative strategies and solidarity building. Based on rigorous academic research, it will broaden the case for reparations, and will be developed in collaboration with activists and government-linked groups to support their social and educational work and political campaigning at national and transnational levels.
Importantly, data produced through the collaborative efforts of the INOSAAR is co-owned by its members. Through the website, we will be developing an archival repository documenting our efforts, which will include materials that have been developed in consultation with, and are for use by, the INOSAAR and its members. The website and its related documents will clearly state the co-produced and co-owned nature of this work.
Dr Nicola Frith: Nicola.Frith@ed.ac.uk
Professor Joyce Hope Scott: firstname.lastname@example.org
 The People’s Reparations International Movement (PRIM) refers to the collectivity of a broad alliance of social forces among peoples all over the world, consisting of a broad array of constituencies, with a range of ideological orientations, working in diverse ways, and acting with some degree of organization and continuity to: obtain redress for historical atrocities and injustices, which have contemporary consequences; repair the harms inflicted; and rehabilitate the victims in the process of effecting and securing the anti-systemic objectives of reparations.
 See, in particular, Kate Driscoll Derickson and Paul Routledge, ‘Resourcing Scholar-Activism: Collaboration, Transformation, and the Production of Knowledge’, The Professional Geographer, 67 (2015), 1–7.
 For example, in the UK, it is important to recognize the foundational work and frameworks of the Sons of Africa, the Garveyite Movement, the Pan-African Movement and its Congresses, anti-colonial activism, the Rastafari Movement through to the Africa Reparations Movement UK, and the 10-point platform that was advanced by the Black Quest for Justice Campaign in 2003 as part of the legal action and extra-legal strategy adopted to implement the 2001 Durban Declaration, as well as other follow-ups, such as the programmes of action arising from the 2002 African & African Descendants World Conference Against Racism and the UN Decade for People of African Descent, the Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March etc.
 See both the BCU and REPAIRS website: http://www.bcu.ac.uk/courses/black-studies-ba-hons-2017-18; https://repairs.hypotheses.org.
 The website is entitled Cartographie des mémoires d’esclavage, http://www.mmoe.llc.ed.ac.uk/fr.
 Elmar Weitekamp, ‘Reparative Justice: Towards a Victim-Oriented System’, European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 1 (1992), 70–93 (p. 86).