Guyana: Reparations for Slavery: Afro-Guyanese deserve 15,000 square miles of territory

Afro-Guyanese deserve 15,000 square miles of territory as partial compensation for enslavement; law being drafted for African land rights

Photo: Chairman of the Guyana Reparations Committee, Eric Phillips and Retired Rear Admiral, Gary Best.

The Guyana Reparations Committee is drafting legislation to allow Afro-Guyanese to secure a percentage of Guyana’s territory as compensation for slavery in the same way that Amerindians have been legally guaranteed land rights, a move Retired Rear Admiral Gary Best supports.

“I believe that unless the State acknowledges its responsibility, we’ll only be looking towards the external reparations which is financial reparations but within the country itself, I think Guyana owes its own people to allocate a portion of land both onshore and offshore reparatory justice to the people of Guyana,” Best said.

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Comments

  • michael hawkins  On August 3, 2018 at 4:37 am

    Ah the human. He always wants something for nothing. Slsavery , that was so long ago, and the people that sold them into slavery was mostly their tribal Cheafs or other Afracan. It is time this was put to bed.M.C.H

    • Emanuel  On August 3, 2018 at 5:25 pm

      “Ah the human. He always wants something for nothing.”

      No, in this case, he doesn’t want freebies. The colonists used his ancestors’ blood to build their homelands. The colonists also stole their wealth and mistreated his ancestors in unimaginable ways.

      All the human wants is justice, and it is time for you to take the blinders off.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On August 3, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Reparations is a slippery slope.

    “He (Best) argued that the State of Guyana has a duty to provide partial reparations as partial restorative justice based on three specific occasions: Africans were kidnapped and illegally transported to this part of the world from their lands,..”
    “I do believe that the State owes a responsibility to the people of this country because it was always the State that committed the crime and prior to the Guyana State it was the British State and it was the British State that committed those heinous crimes,”

    Q: I notice only the Europeans and the Guyana State are targetted for reparations. Did Best and Phillips take into account that “Africans were kidnapped” by other Africans and sold to the Europeans (who then took them abroad)?
    Without the preliminary ‘Black on Black slavery’, the Trans-Atlantic enslavement would have been NIL. The Europeans couldn’t have dealt with the terrain to go in and find the Africans; Or, they would have needed armies to go in and kidnap the Africans, assuming they could have found them after the initial foray.
    So, shouldn’t Best and Phillips demand also from the Africans who were already carrying out the kidnapping, enslaving and trading/selling to the Arabs and only later to the Europeans ? See my comments and (Black) Prof Louis Gates’ findings here.
    https://guyaneseonline.net/2018/06/04/the-power-of-timbuktu-libraries-in-exile-by-dr-dhanpaul-narine/

    Secondly:
    Best told Demerara Waves Online News on Wednesday that he expects the draft to be completed by year-end after which it would be presented to government and eventually the National Assembly for bipartisan consideration. “It is aimed at reducing inequalities and part of the healing process,” he said.
    What is the cause of this ‘inequality’? So, the Guyana State should now take a zero-sum approach – take from ALL other Guyanese and give to Afro-Guyanese?

    Thirdly:
    I notice “offshore” is part of the target for the reparations. The implication should be clear: (newly found) OIL concessions are clearly the proposed target.

    Fourthly:
    What about the indentured people? Most were ripped out of their provenances or inveigled to come/go to Br. Guiana (and then replace the said slaves (viz. “NEW systems of slavery”).
    Shouldn’t the Portuguese, Indians, Chinese, Maltese, and assorted others get reparations also???

    Veda Nath Mohabir

    • Emanuel  On August 5, 2018 at 1:01 am

      You say that without Black on Black slavery the TransAtlantic slave trade would have been “NIL”. You are mincing words, Veda.

      But the Europeans would have found labour from other sources through trickery as the did with the Indians, wouldn’t they?

      Reparations may be a slippery slope but it cannot erase centuries of crimes and plunder. Without question, the Europeans, especially the Brits, owe Guyanese reparations, all Guyanese, not just Afro-Guyanese.

      Emanuel.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On August 5, 2018 at 9:28 am

    I’ll repeat: I am simply questioning why the Reparations Cmttee is targeting only the Brits and Guyana for ‘retributive justice’. Africans kidnapped and sold said slaves to the Brits (and Dutch, who were the first Europeans into the TransAtlantic slave trade and also not included).
    So, should’nt The African nations/states who were involved in the slavery system front-end be also targeted (as should the Dutch) for reparations???

    VNM

    • Emanuel  On August 5, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      At the commencement of slavery in West Africa, there were no organized governments in that part of Africa, only tribal kingdoms. The tribal kings did not sell their own peoples, only those who were outsiders.

      So, since there were no organized nations at the time, Africa cannot legally be held liable for reparations.

      Emanuel.

  • walter  On August 5, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Who is going to decide, African or non- African??? Good luck with that especially when the mixture is so deep. Percentage? like the Canadian Native. Location, Off Shore, why not deep in the jungle, can’t even get young people to grow Wiri Wiri. Plus have to (might) change One People One Nation One Destiny? Just me and maybe 90% of the population, Teach the History, looking back, Build the Country, looking forward, GUYANA might turn out to be a powerhouse not only around the Caribbean, but also in South America. Off Topic, always seem when Rich and or Powerful People about to “Check Out” they always preach dissension.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On August 5, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    Aside from the Africa issue, don’t be surprised that Partition raises it’s head. Plus, where to draw the 18% lines. And will there be a Wall or Exclusive zone.?
    VNM

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On August 5, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    I expect the 18 % will include cash flows/Revenue/profit esp from oil. Interestingly, how to calculate profit varies considerably depending on what ‘costs’ are included. So, will be interesting, and fractious.

  • Thinker  On August 5, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    This IS a slippery slope. Demarcation of lands for the Indigenous is justified based on the necessity for them to protect their traditional lands and way of life. Demarcation of lands for Maroon societies in Jamaica, Surinam, Colombia Brazil are justified on similar grounds. In all these cases we are speaking of relatively small homogeneous groups. How land reparations are going to be applied to Blacks in Guyana is beyond me. It will be very divisive and will lead to partition. The state of Guyana cannot willingly fragment itself on the basis of ethnicity. Where are the traditional African lands? Georgetown? Linden? the whole project is unworkable.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On August 5, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    Then there is the other ‘fly in the ointment’ – the large mixed population. How to deal with those with varying degrees of African heritage?
    VNM.

  • dhanpaul narine  On August 6, 2018 at 9:49 am

    If one is to split up the country then the Amerindians have a well-founded claim, as much as anyone else. Gravesande used them to hunt African slaves, thus disrupting their lifestyles and fomenting hatred between the races. When the British introduced indentureship they also used Amerindians to hunt East Indians. Suppose the Amerindians put in a claim for 50,000 square miles. How do we treat that? And the East Indians say that they too suffered and therefore want 20,000 square miles; and the Chinese and Portuguese also join the wagon? What do we do with the mixed population? How are we to apportion lands and who decides who gets what?
    Splitting up the country to appease a particular group is unworkable. We are one people, one nation with one destiny. There should be reparations by all means. It should be in the form of money from Britain, and others. The money should be used to build better schools, promote greater literacy, to bring us in tune with the latest in technology education so we can diversify our agriculture and be prepared for oil and gas.
    Reparation then would benefit ALL the peoples of Guyana. When the British left Guyana the East Indian Fund that they created had over $250,000. East Indians argued that it was supposed to promote the development of Indians. Prime Minister Burnham used the money to build the National Cultural Center so that the nation can benefit. It was the right thing to do. Future call for reparations should be be seen in the context of benefitting the nation, as opposed to granting lands to any one group.

    • Ron Saywack  On August 6, 2018 at 2:28 pm

      Dr. Narine asserts: “Splitting up the country to appease a particular group is unworkable.”

      I concur with your assessment, Dr. Narine. The ‘Reparations Committee’s’ (RC) clarion call for land claims, though understandable when taken in historical context, will serve to compound, complicate and further stymy any, or most, post-colonial progress/development of a troubled, pillaged nation.

      It is time to end this debate and instead focus on a mutually shared-future as one people, united. The implication of apportioning a percentage of the land to one ethnic group is in and of itself divisive as well as copiously impractical. It is akin to opening up a ‘pandora’s box’, not unlike the splitting up of Tito’s Yugoslavia.

      To the RC: exactly how will the land claim work? Will Afro-Guyanese have their own little enclave of the 83,000 square miles and become completely autonomous and self-sufficient? Will Indo-Guyanese also be apportioned a certain percentage of the land and do likewise? What about the Portuguese, the Chinese, et al?

      Alas, don’t forget that we also have a long-standing border dispute with Venezuela who stakes claims to two-thirds of our land or about 55,000 square miles. That would leave about 28,000 of (the former) British Guiana/Guyana. If you then take away 15,000, it leaves 13,000 square miles, down from 83,000. Are you serious, RC?

      This debate is pure insanity, come to your senses and nip it in the bud now, Granger. As you state, Dr. Narine, reparations should be sought from the European colonizers, chiefly the British, for the greater good of all Guyanese.

      Let us work together to build a better Guyana and brighter future for all Guyanese. United we stand, divided we fall — and we surely will fall if the Granger administration foolishly enacts into law the RC’s lamentable recommendations!

      • Thinker  On August 7, 2018 at 6:53 am

        It bothers me that there has not been outright condemnation from the major political parties of this divisive and unworkable solution at a time when Indigenous Rights have to be worked out. More proof that the politicians are unprincipled and clueless. Just as stupid as the ideal of making Guyana a federal state as has been touted in some quarters.

  • Ron Saywack  On August 7, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Tinker states:”It bothers me that there has not been outright condemnation from the major political parties of this divisive and unworkable solution …”.

    Don’t expect condemnation to come from the governing party. After all, it was Granger who commissioned the Reparations Committee to draft “legislation” (more appropriately a bill) which will be voted upon by the Guyana Parliament, presumably, sometime early next year.

    There is continued reference to the 2006 Amerindian Act which has allocated 13.8% of Guyana’s land to its original inhabitants. Since the Amerindians have occupied the land for thousands of years, any reference and/or comparison to them and the Amerindians land deal is a specious argument.

    As stated above, now is the time to build a better, stronger country for the greater good (and for posterity) of all Guyanese and to end this fractious, counterproductive land-claim debate.

    The foreign criminals have long since pillaged, looted, plundered, and departed, with impunity. They were, and their descendants are, the beneficiaries of the horrendous crimes they committed against our peoples. It is, therefore, they and their descendants who must provide reparatory justice (highly unlikely), not the State of Guyana, the victim.

    • michael hawkins  On August 8, 2018 at 4:27 am

      This sounds very much as a state with in a state. Pray tell were in god’s name where will the land be found to give to these people. I call this living in the past. By now there should be one people in Guyana, not every one pulling in different directions. As a great East African used to say “Pull together”

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On August 7, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    The PPP/C (Gail Tiexiera) has already (Mar 2016) come our swinging against Eric Phillips.

    https://www.stabroeknews.com/2016/opinion/letters/03/30/president-remove-eric-phillips-guyana-reparations-committee/

    VNM

    • michael hawkins  On August 8, 2018 at 4:07 am

      Same old sa,me old. Every one wants somthing for nothing. Anything that is done can not be at the cost of the Native people. It is their land. Or do we do as the USA did?

    • Ron Saywack  On August 8, 2018 at 6:07 am

      Thanks for sharing this, Veda.

      Miss Gail Teixeira’s exposé of Eric Phillips’ cunning and deception is brilliant and comprehensive. David Granger should take immediate action to remove him and issue an unconditional apology to the people of Guyana.

      A person of questionable integrity cannot, and must never, be tasked with such an important position. Too much is at stake.

  • Thinker  On August 11, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    What Guyana needs more than ever is people who will constitutionally frame the groundwork for a just and equitable system of governance. Failure to do this is merely setting the scene for future conflict.

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