The University of the West Indies (the UWI) will launch Tuesday its recently established Centre for Reparation Research (CRR), which it says is the first of its kind in the academy.
Scheduled for Mona Visitors’ Lodge and Conference Centre tomorrow, Tuesday, October 10 at 5:30 pm, the event will feature Samia Nkrumah, daughter of the late president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah as keynote speaker, and will be, followed by an exhibition of art and artefacts from the slavery era and an all-day symposium on October 11.
The university said the symposium, titled ‘Post-Independence Cross Roads: Economic Growth, Sustainable Societies and Reparatory Justice’, will discuss key issues such as—Who should clean up the colonial mess left at the time of independence? Can there be sustainable development of the Caribbean without reparatory justice and what historical lessons can we draw from the widespread destruction of some Caribbean islands by the recent hurricanes?
The symposium is open to the public and is free of charge to local participants.
The line-up of notable speakers includes The UWI Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles; prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves; programme manager, culture & community development at Caricom Secretariat, Dr Hilary Brown, as well as Professors Verene Shepherd, Horace Campbell, Carolyn Cooper, Opal Palmer Adisa, and Brian Meeks; Dr Julius Garvey; Dr Michael Witter; Dr Joyce Hope Scott; Sister Nanny; Ras Ika; Emprezz Golding, and others.
According to Professor Beckles, “This conference is informed by the question: Can the Caribbean achieve economic development without reparatory justice? The economics of reparation will take centre stage in a requiem mass to Irma-Maria, as the region intensifies its call for reparation as a development plan. Heads of governments, constituted as Caricom, have written to those European states enriched by Caribbean slavery, calling for an international summit to discuss reparations as a marshall plan, but responses have been muted. We will launch the Caribbean Centre for Reparation Research in order to professionally prepare the evidentiary basis of the claim.”
The university explained that the creation of the CRR is a direct response to Caricom’s mandate to the UWI—at its 34th Meeting of Heads of Government in July 2013—to collaborate with other Caribbean universities to establish the research institute as a vehicle for research and public advocacy.
Commenting on the role of the centre, Director Professor Verene Shepherd said it will support the CARICOM Reparatory Justice Movement, build awareness, and conduct research which will advance the claim to Europeans for reparation for native genocide, African enslavement, deceptive indenture, and colonialism and its legacies.
“The CRR will primarily be motivated by two other interlocking objectives: to broadly foster awareness around the lasting and adverse consequences of colonialism in the Caribbean, and offer practical solutions to halting and reversing them, in collaboration with advocates from grassroots to governments.”
Meanwhile, the university is also expected to, on Wednesday October 12, traditionally observed as “Columbus Day” and celebrated as the National Day of Spain, bring attention to the indigenous people of the Caribbean region who it said were subjected to a protracted campaign of genocide initiated by Spain beginning on October 12, 1492.
Incidentally, Trinidad and Tobago, will use October 13 as a one-off national holiday in recognition of the First Peoples of the islands.