St. Lucia Rastafari Hold Emancipation March and Deliver Reparations Petition to Governor-General

 

La Toc Road entrace to Government House, official residence of Governor General of St. Lucia.

La Toc Road entrance to Government House, official residence of Governor General of St. Lucia.

Marching near La Toc.

As part of their commemoration of Emancipation Day, Rastafari in St. Lucia via the recently formed Iyanola Rastafari Reparation/Repartriation Movement (IRRM) held a march to the residence of the Governor-General Dame Pearlette Louisy to deliver a petition. The march left the Derek Walcott Square from 8:00 a.m. accompanied by police escort onto Brazil and Bridge Street and onward along the La Toc Road. Chanting and singing to the backing of Nyabinghi drums accompanied the entire march with persons along the route coming to observe. The procession arrived at the Governor General’s residence amid heavy downpour. The petition was delivered to officers stationed at the Government House – the residence of the Governor General – to be forwarded by Her Excellency to Queen Elizabeth.

(left to right) Ras Fey, Bongo Wisely, Priest Kailash and Sister Sheba.

(left to right) Ras Fey, Bongo Wisely, Priest Kailash and Sister Sheba.

IRRM Chairman Bongo Wisely Tafari explained what transpired on the day:

“…Today, Emancipation Day 2014, the Iyanola Rastafari Reparation/ Repatriation Movement organized this march [and] a petition where we’ve been collecting signatures. The Petition was delivered to the Governor-General’s residence. Well, unfortunately the Governor-General is on vacation, but we made arrangements with the security forces at her residence.”

At a press conference held on 25th July to announce the march, Bongo Wisely Tafari, President of the Iyanola Council for Advancement of Rastafari (ICAR) explained that the event would be used to bring the attention of Queen Elizabeth (through her representative Governor General) the unpaid compensation and reparations due to descendants of enslaved Africans since the end of enslavement. In addition, he pointed out that it would also commemorate the centenary of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) an organization formed by Marcus Mosiah Garvey which was founded in Jamaica on the 1st August 1914.

Iyanola Rastafari Reparation/Repartriation Movement – 25th July 2014 HTS News Report

Both Hon. Priest Kailash of the IRRM and Priest of the Ethiopia Africa Black International Congress (also called the Boboshanti order) pointed out that the movement (IRRM) was organized “first and foremost to enforce the bonds of love among Rastafari as a people” as well as “addressing the atrocities” that were perpetrated against members of the Rastafari community by the government. He further pointed out that the Rastafari would be seeking formal apologies from the Government concerning the atrocities and ill-treatment of Rastafari at the hands of the State over the years. He noted that as Reparation and Repatriation were causes initially and continuously raised by the Rastafari Community and for which they were ridiculed by the wider society and ignored by the State, a formal apology from the Government would be in harmony with legitimate pursuance of this cause by CARICOM in recent times.

Kes Wesmore and Black Prince.

Kes Wesmore and Black Prince.

Rastafari holding up Ethiopian crosss

The march included Rastafari from the various orders or houses of Rastafari as well as persons from the wider public. Founding member of the Iyanola Rastafari Improvement Association (IRIA), an earlier Rastafari organization, Trescott “Soukou” Augustin, was in attendance at the march and explained the history of Emancipation Celebrations among Rastafari in St. Lucia: “…every time that particular date come around …we feel duty-bound to have some form of public event which normally takes place in the form of a march like what we did there today.” According to Soukou, Rastafari’s commemoration of the event started:

“Way back in the seventies . . . later seventies – ‘79, ‘80 coming up there – because we were always conscious of that. In fact, we always been more intense (sic) on African Liberation Day because we feel that we must make the distinction between [this celebration and Emancipation Day]. Emancipation is some sort of decree to ‘free-up’ the slaves but liberation goes beyond that. Because, as we know, all the ex-colonies they still had their system and their people controlling. So we more look to liberation, you know, than Emancipation. Emancipation is just a stage. So we didn’t really focus on Emancipation Day as much as African Liberation Day. Notwithstanding that, we always recognize Emancipation.”

Rastafari Elders. Trescott

Despite a National Holiday on the Day, official State activities surrounding the event were generally absent before the late 1990s. Previously held on the first Monday in August, the holiday is now celebrated on the 1st of August. Emancipation Day remains the main officially recognized African centered event. Other celebrations include the festivals of the La Rose and La Maguerite societies which developed among African descendants in St. Lucia and which are celebrated in August and October respectively. Among the Rastafari Community events are also held around the Earthday of Marcus Mosiah Garvey and H.I.M Haile Selassie as well as other days such as African Liberation Day.

Following the delivery of the petition, the procession returned to the Derek Walcott Square (formerly Columbus Square) where speeches and chanting continued into the early afternoon.

 

Entrance to Government House, official residence of the Governor General of St. Lucia.

It is important to note that the political status of St. Lucia like most countries in the British colonized Caribbean remains that of Constitutional Monarchy. Three exceptions to this status are the Republics of Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica. As such, these countries retain Governors-General who are representatives of the Monarch as part of their political structure. Included below is the text of the petition presented by the IRRM to the Governor-General:

Iyanola Rastafari Reparations Repatriation Movement Inc.

P.O. Box 462, Vieux-Fort P.O. Vieux-Fort, St. Lucia. W. I.

WE CHARGE GENOCIDE/ECOCIDE
(PETITION RECOGNIZING GENOCIDE/ECOCIDE BY THE BRITISH STATE
AGAINST ARIKAN PEOPLE)

The Undersigned Make the Following Heartfelt Declaration:

•   The immoral and inhuman treatment inflicted on Afrikans by the money making Europeans has never been addressed.

•   The racist mindset which fuelled the transatlantic slave trade from the 15th century to the late 19th century has not been terminated.

•   The lack of accountability by those responsible confirms the ongoing racism which creates disproportionate detriment to the offspring of the millions of individuals that were stolen from Afrika.

•   Today the offspring of the stolen Afrikans encounter direct and indirect racial discrimination daily.  This results in poverty, lack of education, unemployment, imprisonment and ill health.

•   The damage that has been done to Afrika also needs to be addressed in a structured and effective manner.

•   The blood, sweat and tears of our Ancestors financed the economic base of the United Kingdom. Therefore it is just and fair that Reparations be made to their offspring.

•   Repatriation should be a viable option for any Descendant of Afrikans captured, enslaved and financially exploited by the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations (UK) and their European counterparts.

•   The immoral acts inflicted on Afrikans against their will cannot be undone. But there has been no real attempt by the perpetrators to address the harm that has resulted from their actions.

•   Now is the time for the victims of the inhumane atrocities to demand reparation for the wrongs that continue to be inflicted on Afrika and Afrikans.

Whereas  we, the undersigned, recognize the destabilisation, oppression and terrorisation of our Afrikan heritage communities, the proliferation of guns, the distribution and sale of drugs and the resultant Black on Black self-annihilation has reached epidemic proportions, causing harm to Afrikan heritage communities within and beyond the St. Lucia and prolonging the war and Holocaust of enslavement (Maangamizi) against Afrikan peoples all over the world; We understand this harm can only be described as acts of Genocide/Ecocide by the State through its agencies of the police, armed forces, security and intelligence agencies and other organised as well as unorganised manifestations of structural,  systemic and institutionalised racism of the white supremacist order of global apartheid. Genocide as defined in Article II of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted on December 9, 1948 explained that “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily harm or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

In addition to the acts of Genocide/Ecocide perpetuated through various instruments of the British State and its European super state, acts of Genocide/Ecocide can also be attributed to the British Government’s misuse of resources extorted through taxes from people in the United Kingdom and plundered from all peoples, communities and nations subjugated to the oppression and exploitation of British/European Imperialism. This is evidenced by the following: (1) the denial of Afrikan and Black human and peoples’ rights; (2) the mentacide of Afrikan heritage youth and adults through the state mis-education system; (3) brutality by police and security agents including deaths in custody; (4) unemployment and mal-employment; (5) the expanding prison and psychiatric industrial complex; (6) racist immigration policies; (7) privatisation schemes including the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA’s) of the European Union (EU) being forced on Afrikan Caribbean & Pacific countries; and (8.) the crimes against humanity inherent in the aggression committed against Afrikan and other majority world peoples. The results of these inhumane public policies have caused devastation to Afrikan heritage within and beyond Britain. Out of these have also arisen environmental injustice, violence, poverty, ignorance and anti-Black racism such as Afriphobia resulting in the destruction of generations of Afrikan heritage people, all amounting to geno/ecocidalcrimes against humanity for which we demand reparations, including voluntary repatriation, as a matter of restorative justice.

On every 1st August, Emancipation Day, collections of this petition will be submitted to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II through the The Governor General Office of Her Majesty’s Government of Government House Morne Fortune, Castries. This petition highlights continuing abuses of human, peoples and Mother Earth rights perpetrated against Afrikan heritage communities within and in countries colonised by Britain. It is also meant to mobilise support for the All-Party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry and galvanise grassroots work towards the Peoples International Tribunal for Global Justice (PITGJ) with a view to putting a full stop by way of reparations to all acts of Genocide/Ecocide.

Three Rastafari ladies.

Three Rastafari ladies.

Two young Boboshantis at the head of the march.

Two young Boboshantis at the head of the march.

Rastafari assembled at the Derek Walcott Square holding placards before march.

Rastafari assembled at the Derek Walcott Square holding placards before march.

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~ by iandiyanola on August 6, 2014.

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