KINGSTOWN – The St Vincent and the Grenadines government Saturday gave a red carpet welcome to two members of the Britain’s royal family, but a small group of protesters registered their objection to the visit and instead called for reparation for African slavery.
At the Argyle International Airport, Prince Andrew, 58, and his wife, Sophie, 57, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, were greeted by Acting Prime Minister Montgomery Daniel, as Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is off island undergoing medical attention in Venezuela.
Governor General, Dame Susan Dougan, who is the Queen’s Representative here, as well as Opposition Leader Godwin Friday, other government and opposition lawmakers were also present at the airport as steel band music welcomed the royals whose visit to the Commonwealth Caribbean forms part of the activities marking Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee, 70 years on the throne.
But the pomp and ceremony was overshadowed by a small group of protesters calling on Britain to apologise for its role in the African slave trade as well as to pay compensation.
“The African holocaust is one of the greatest holocausts, if not the greatest holocaust,” Ideisha Jackson, 47, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC)
She said that while some people might not agree, “we know what our forefathers went through; it’s in our DNA.
“We feel their pain and every time I talk about African brothers and sisters who had to struggle for survival in these ships and work for many years — 400 years of slavery — and still up to this day, we are not compensated.”
Jackson noted that at the end of the slave trade, it was the slave masters, rather than the slaves who were compensated.
“So, today, we are still standing firm in the cause of reparation. Reparations now! Reparations now! Reparations now! No more idle talk,” she said, adding “I am here to demonstrate, to show my disgust, my disappointment, my vengeance for my brothers and sisters … who, over 400 years had to suffer the slave masters’ whip, the slave masters’ rape and brutal dehumanisation of our people.
“So I am here to stand up for those persons and seek from Britain reparations now,” she said, acknowledging that some people might argue that slavery was legal and permitted when it occurred.
“Our African brothers and sisters were never permitted to be enslaved. So the wrong was done against a sector of the human race by another and this wrong must be compensated.”
Former chair of the National Reparations Committee, Jomo Thomas, who was those demanding the apology and reparation, said “we just wanted to indicate, represent, manifest our disgust, our disdain and our concern that the neo-colonial government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines would again, yet again, be welcoming and celebrating these people”.
The former government senator and speaker of the House of Assembly, said that under the Royal African Charter, the British were “responsible for the hunting down, kidnapping and trans-shipment of 60 per cent of all of the Africans who were taken from the African continent”. (CMC)