Jamaica, Tuesday November 26, 2019 – Government
is adamant that descendants of enslaved Africans deserve and should get
reparations, and it says it’s not backing down from getting them.
That’s according to Minister without
Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mike Henry, who says that while
the smatterings of compensation from a few organizations is a good place to
start, and the country is encouraged by the show of support, a piecemeal
approach is not the best way for Jamaica to attain full and satisfactory payment
for slavery and its effects.
“There will be no moving on as though
nothing happened. We are not listening to that kind of talk. The world knows
what happened to our people during slavery because it is well documented,” he
Stating that slavery was the greatest
crime against humanity, Minister Henry said that “our call for compensation is
serious business. The wrongs of slavery cannot be made right by anything less
than a robust country-to-country response.
“Small, individual settlements from the
few enlightened do not remove or lessen the obligation of former mother
countries to nations that were their colonies,” he added.
Henry said Jamaica wants acceptance of
the moral wrongness of the system of slavery; acknowledgment of the harm that
was caused; recognition of the continuing impact on lives today; confession of
the immense benefit gained by European countries and, of course, full and final
monetary compensation to Jamaica.
“Nothing less will clear the debt,” he
stressed, adding that slavery did not just cause physical and emotional harm,
noting that it had more far-reaching effects.
“In fact, the psychological impact
remains with us today and it will not go away with sweet talk, arrogant
dismissiveness, nor delay tactics. We will not merely forgive and forget.
“The Europeans enriched themselves on
the backs of slaves in the Caribbean and built their empires with wealth
extracted from this region. Today, we struggle under the weight of
underdevelopment and unrealised potential. Fulsome compensation will put us at
a place to begin the process of repairing some of the damage that was done,” Minister
In the meanwhile, the Minister
congratulated the participants in the JIS Heritage Competition Awards, which
included essay, poster, and photograpy elements focused on the topic of
He made the comments at the ninth
staging of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) annual Heritage Competition
Awards Ceremony, and he encouraged the students to position themselves to
continue the fight for compensation for slavery.
“I want to put the baton in capable, steady hands. It’s time for this generation… to get in position. Indeed, the run is far from over, but a win in this matter is certain. I plan to be at the finish line, and, who knows… I might just participate in the victory lap,” he said.
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