This is an open letter from me as founder and chairman of the Non-State Actors Reparations Commission (NsARC). It is directed at people of African descent globally, in particular to Barbadians and other Caribbean nationals. The NsARC is seeking support in getting the Government of Barbados to submit a resolution to the United Nations on behalf of CARICOM member states. The resolution is for October 12 to be proclaimed as the ‘International Day for Reparations’. Reparations is not mainly about money, it’s mostly about reparatory justice and self-repairs.
On May 8, the NsARC wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs requesting that the government of Barbados seriously consider submitting the resolution to the United Nations for October 12 as ‘International Day for Reparations’ before the General Elections is called in 2018, so that over the remaining seven years of the UN ‘International Decade for People of African Descent’ – for Recognition, Justice and Development to 2024, we can start repairing the damage that has been done following Columbus’ adventures from 1492. The letter stated that it is the final appeal to government on the subject, and was copied to the Prime Minister, to the Secretary-General of CARICOM and others government officials.
At the time the letter was written we were not aware that CARICOM Ministers of Foreign Affairs were scheduled to meet in Barbados this week on 18-19. The NsARC is therefore appealing to Caribbean nationals at home and abroad to lobby our governments to join the call for the government of Barbados to submit to the United Nations on behalf of CARICOM the resolution about October 12 before dissolving government in preparation for the General Elections of 2018.
Background to resolution
The background to this resolution commenced whilst I was resident in England. In 1977 I was persuaded to undergo a minor experimental operation – a tendon graft on my little finger, which was later deemed “ill-advised, unnecessary and was unsuccessful. Following the surgery I had a spiritual epiphany, a vision, and was given; “a vivid picture of a new political and economic order for the 21st century; new political awakening for Barbadians and other people of the Caribbean Region; and a mission for uniting my family as a single unit; the acquisition of economic power by ‘black people’; the end of Apartheid in South Africa and of the global oppression of white supremacy (Racism). On sharing the vision my human rights were violated. I was sectioned into a mental institution; that experience led me into becoming the Human Rights Advocate I am. The vision was made public in the booklet ‘Pride & Unity: The Dawn of a New Era – Barbados and the Larrier family’ (1989).
The first action I took in the mission was to coordinate an international family reunion in July 1978. Barbados has since become renowned for family reunions and next month the Barbados Museum and Historical Society will be launching its ‘Family History Project’ to encourage Barbadians, both at home and in the Diaspora, to research and document their family history as far back as possible.
There is some difficulty in researching and documenting Diaspora Africans Family History because of our experiences of enslavement and colonialism. The impact of racism and the psychological damage done to our African black family is unique as our ancestors were taken from Africa as individuals. Before my epiphany in 1977 I had no knowledge of or interest in the history of African people. However, in October 1987 I was privilege to visit Africa as a delegate representing the National Association for Mental Health (MIND). I attended a world conference on mental health held in Cairo Egypt, where I presented a paper entitled; “What Role Does Racism Play in Psychiatry?” While in Cairo I had the opportunity to visit the Great Pyramid of Giza. I did not understand at the time the importance of that visit to the Great Pyramid and how it would impact on my vision and mission!
My next venture was in 1990 after I participated in an ALL Faiths Conference in London in December 1989 on population growth for the decade of the 1990s. I was a delegate (Director of Training) representing the Methodist Church. During the workshops it became clear to me through various statements that were made by some persons that there was a plot to commit genocide on 2 billion people over the decade. In 1989 the population was 4.5 billion and it was predicted that by 2000 it would grow to 6.5 billion, but that the food chain could not support such a rapid growth. I was disturbed by this plot. In January 1990 I penned a proposal in the form of an open letter to 170 world leaders, recommending that October 12 be proclaimed as a “Universal Day of Hope” for Truth, Justice, Peace, Healing and Reconciliation. I also called on the then Prime Minister of Barbados for his government to take the lead in submitting the resolution to the United Nations on behalf of CARICOM.
Resettlement to Barbados
In 1994 I resettled to Barbados from England and stood as an ‘Independent Candidate’ in the unprecedented early elections that was called that year. There was a change in government and in May 1995 I led a seven member delegation of Human Rights and Social Justice Advocates to a meeting with (Dr. Peter Laurie) the then Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The delegation presented the PS with a draft resolution for government’s consideration and possible submission to the United Nations on behalf of the CARICOM member states (Advocate May 14, 1995). I felt burdened with the responsibility of lobbying for Barbados to take the lead in the process of reversing the psychological damage of post traumatic slave syndrome resulting from October 12, 1492.
On returning to Barbados I joined the Pan-African Movement and in 1997 we made a proposal to government. The proposal was accepted and in November 1998 the ‘Commission for Pan-African Affairs’ was established to reach out to people of African descent globally. In 1999 a national consultation on racism was undertaken to find out the views of Barbadians on the issue of racism. In 2001 the UN held its third and final ‘World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related intolerance’ in Durban, South Africa. A delegation from Barbados played a pivotal role in the consensus reached at that conference that; the transatlantic trade in Africans, chattel enslavement and colonialism were all crimes against humanity. In 2002 the first follow-up to the Durban conference was the Afrikan and Afrikan Descendants World Conference against Racism was held in Barbados.
In 2009 the UN proclaimed the year 2011 as the ‘International Year for People of African Descent’ and in 2010 the UN’s Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent met at Geneva to plan its programme for the 2011 and a call for an ‘International Day for People of African Descent’ was made, to date this has not been taken up by neither CARICOM nor the African Union Leaders. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action calls for an ‘International Day for Reparations’.
The present chaos which the world is going through started in the Caribbean region with the clash of cultures following Columbus’ arrival on October 12, 1492, which has influenced all nine areas of human activities; education, economics, entertainment, health, law, labour, politics, sex and war.
Over the 40 years of struggling with the idea of Barbados taking the lead in the process of repairing the damage that has been done to people of African descent I have taken note of some special events in Barbados’ history. However, it was not until April 28, when I learned for the first time of the thesis; ‘The idea of Barbados’ by the Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, that I then realised the importance of Barbados taking the lead regarding my (epiphany) vision and mission of 1977.
Dr. Gonsalves put in context in his thesis penned in 2014 what I have been saying for the past 40 years that; “Barbados is an idea which has, over time, become manifest in reality. The idea of Barbados encompasses more than a nation state or a national community…” Dr. Gonsalves further noted that; “There is an undoubted Barbadian sensibility that informs or shapes the individual and collective responses of the Barbadian people. He also noted that many other Caribbean nationals perceive this, quite wrongly, as a sense of “Bajan superiority”. It is not that; it is an attribute of quiet assurance, a manifestation of the virtue of self-mastery. That is the wellspring of a civil, and civilized, people steeped in progressive values, but on the bedrock of core values lodged in the social consciousness.”
The observance of Dr. Gonsalves’ idea of Barbados confirms precisely why from as far back as 1990 I have been insisting that Barbados is the most appropriate country to take the lead in submitting a resolution to the United Nations for October 12 to be proclaimed as a day for Truth, Justice, Peace, Healing and Reconciliation.
We are all aware that October 12, 1492 is the date that Columbus’ made landfall in the Caribbean, which resulted in a clash of cultures and brought about a system of white supremacy that have transformed the world into its present state of affairs. The World Social Forum, which is civil society’s equivalent to the United Nations General Assembly is committed to the healing process and has proclaimed October 12 from 2013 as ‘International Day for Reparations’.
There are some peculiarities to Barbados (little England). It is the only British colony that started its development (1627) without genocide being committed on natives (indigenous peoples), and the first that went to war with the “Mother Country” winning a victory of self-determination in 1652, resulting in the signing of the ‘Barbados Charter’. The Charted subsequently influenced the American constitution of 1787. Another aspect of Barbados’ history that influenced the American constitution is the Barbados Slave Code of 1661, which also influenced all countries that subsequently were under the British Empire, contributing to the belief and practice against black people as inferior being to white people and all other ethnic groups.
I am reliably informed that Sir Hilary Beckles latest book 2017 ‘The First Black Slave Society’ supports my assertion that Barbados is the most appropriate country, and do have an obligation to submit the resolution for October 12 to the United Nations so as to repair the damage it has caused. The Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is therefore right on target when he stated that; “Fundamentally, “the idea of Barbados” faces enormous challenges from the process of globalization and its attendant discontents. Globalization facilitates an increasing homogenization of culture propagated by a dominant cultural imperialism. Globalization is impatient of “localization”, but the idea of Barbados strengthens the quest for a particular space within a wider universalism. This dialectical engagement between “the local” and “the global” does not necessarily presage an undermining of the idea of Barbados, but an enrichment of it. Still, it is a challenging endeavour. We must have faith that the idea of Barbados will endure, but faith is made complete or perfect with deeds.
It is not coincidental that on October 12, 2012 the government established a national ‘Task Force on Reparations’ (TFoR) and that I am a member of the committee. The Non State Actors Reparations Commission (NsARC) was established on October 12, 2013 as a counterpart to the TFoR and a Coalition of Human Rights and Social Justice Organisations. The report of the TFoR is in its final stages for submission to government. Our mandate is to consult with the community on the importance of reparations. As the TFoR report is being completed I am in the process of writing a booklet entitles ‘The Journey from Africa to Barbados and Back’ with Barbados being synonymous with the Diaspora.
The information of Dr. Gonsalves thesis along with Sir Hilary books ‘Britain Black Debt’ and ‘The First Black Slave Society’ and other information now before me about the Great Pyramid as contained in the book “The Clock Face Code” by Courtney Buchanan and Ade Shaw of April 2014 will be additional to the text of the booklet to be published this October 12, with the hope of helping to advance our claim for reparatory justice by 2024.
The resolution by Barbados for October 12 would greatly help in the process.
Rev. Buddy Larrier