by Kavon Fiennes
MP, Lester ‘Mike’ Henry has vowed to continue his fight for reparations even ‘on a stretcher’ (see today’s Gleaner article). I wonder if he will do so even from beyond the grave? Our breed of politicians in Jamaica are really something else. My colleague Cato Rand wrote an essay earlier this week, addressing the Jamaican condition related to slavery, almost prophetically. I will add my ‘two cents’ on reparation, now seeing this article in the papers today.
In 2009, I believed it was then Culture Minister Olivia Grange who convened a reparation committee to seek remuneration from our former Colonial Masters (England I am presuming), as payback (compensation) for either “slavery” or “colonialism” or both.
Mr. Henry has been a very vocal advocate for reparations. However, I have several problems with Mike Henry’s position and thus I have several questions that I would like to have answered on this reparations issue:
1) Is it only England, or are we going to seek compensation from Spain as well? The Spanish were Jamaica’s original European settlers and slave owners. Even though Spain lost Jamaica to the British in 1655, what of their ‘freed’ slaves (the original Maroons?) whom they abandoned? Will they be entitled to this money as well?
2) Why did Jamaica seek independence from the England without taking what was owed to us? If anything at all was owed. Who really owes us this money by the way? The former slave owners (now deceased) or their descendants? Or is it the British govt who collected taxes? Should all taxes collected be repaid? This is interesting, because slaves as far as I know were not owned by the state, but by individuals (I stand to be corrected).
3) How much money is being sought in this reparations case against the British? Is it in the millions or billions?
4) How much has this reparation committee cost me, the Jamaican taxpayer, since its inception in 2009? How much has it achieved? And just how much longer will the committee be in operation and at what further cost? I am sure we will need another costly committee to tell us that.
5) Is the reparations committee looking at prominent local Jamaican families who have direct linkages to slave owners and the slavery plantations; and who own vast swathes of land and wealth as a direct result of their forefathers involvement in slavery and apprenticeship? Maybe we could sue them for money first before going to the Brits.
6) Who is going to receive this money directly? If the committee is successful, will it be the govt or the Jamaican people? We all know how that is going to end up if the govt gets the compensation into their hands. Personally, I want my money deposited into my Scotiabank Victoria Avenue Account in Kingston, Jamaica directly from London, England.
7) Additionally, which Jamaican will receive this money, if we are to get it directly? Only the direct descendants of slaves? Or will it be for all descendants of those domiciled in Jamaica prior to 1962?
I hope we all see the futility of this exercise. We cannot be seeking money from current people who have had nothing to do with slavery over 160 years ago. Neither my parents, grandparents, great-grand or great-great grandparents were slaves. What is owed to you or me from England? Nothing! We took our independence to go our own way.
This is just another distraction by our political elites, who have abdicated their responsibility to Jamaican citizens, who elected them to serve us. The truth is readers, the real question I have for Mr Henry is, what has Jamaica gained from our native political leaders since independence? Where are the reparations that are owed to us, the Jamaican people, from the ‘Pillagers of Jamaica’ who have been sitting in Gordon House over the past 50 years?
Kavon Fiennes is creator of the RightFromYaad blog. He is a 30-something year old ‘Black’, sometimes ‘Brown’, Jamaican. He is a former socialist, nationalist and Democrat, turned Libertarian and semi-conservative since his mid 20′s. He still holds lingering left-wing views on the way society ought to treat the destitute and elderly.