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Transcript of Reparations podcast
The first 10 minutes, including David Fleming’s introduction, are missing. Apologies.
Dorothy Kuya: â€¦What we’ve tended to do in this country, I think, is a sort of transference of blame to the Americas. You know, ‘Look at how they’ve enslaved people’, and ignoring the fact that almost all the Caribbean islands were part of the British dominion, and that we have [indistinct] â€¦in islands, but also remembering that most of the people who owned plantations in the early days of America were Europeans. Very many of them were British, particularly around New York and other areas like that. So we’ve not done the research about our involvement and our connection. It’s only in recent times that there has been a serious move to have an organised movement for African reparations in this country. And this came out of the first pan-African conference on Reparations for African Enslavement and Colonisation and neo-colonialisation which took place in Abuja in Nigeria in 1993, and it was sponsored by the Organisation of African Unity, the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the eminent person group on reparations. And that conference, that was attended by people of African descent from the diaspora, and people from all over Africa, could themselves make a declaration in which they said that, ‘the claim for reparations is a demand for the adjustment of an exploitative relationship which still persists and can be compared with other forms of reparations which have been legitimised. The compensation for injustice need not consist only of capital transfer - it could include other forms of restitution and readjustment agreeable to both parties.’ That’s an important point to make because most people have thought of reparation being in terms of you just give a few hundred pounds to African people and that’s the reparation, that’s the repair of the damage we’ve done to them. So the African reparations [indistinct] at the African conference was a very important beginning of getting some organised response and an organised demand for reparations.
The late Bernie Grant, who was the first Black MP â€“ most of us will be aware of him â€“ and he came to Liverpool and number of times, and he visited the visited the transatlantic slave trade gallery, and he also laid down the plaque that used to be on the docks that will be put back again I believe. Well, he was at that conference and put in and Early Day Motion in the House of Commons in 1993 calling for support for the pan-African conference and its call for reparations. And he got quite widespread support from MPS for that. There was then a conference in Birmingham, and I was involved with him in that period, when they began to discuss the issue of reparations. They were all Black conferences in which people were invited to discuss, and also to assess the extent of support in this country among Black people for reparations. There were also a series of preliminary meetings which led for the African Reparations Movement UK (ARM UK) being [indistinct] â€¦not being as strong or as active as we would like it to be, but nevertheless it has been functioning as a group and has laid before people the issues of reparations, and these have moved on quite a lot since then in its activities.
One of the main points they raised was that they were convinced that the consequence of enslavement, colonialism and racism manifested by the current problems facing Africans and Africans at home and in the diaspora, could be [indistinct] â€¦commodity crisis and market, inequality of international financial systems and the assault on our youth world wide. And some of us in Liverpool will know [indistinct] â€¦the means to obtain reparations. Colonisation of Africa and [indistinct] â€¦and to use all lawful means to secure the return of African artefacts from which place they may currently reside. And to seek apology from western government for the enslavement and colonisation of African people, and to campaign for the acknowledgement of the contributions of African people to civilisation and world history â€“ an area that is a particularly important one and why Black History Month has been established, because one of the propaganda elements that came out of those who were colonising and enslaving was that when they went into the African continent they found uncivilised people that were fighting each other and that they did them a favour by going in there and taking them into Europeans, and some of the points that David made, and that they were doing them a favour and that they were better off. It doesn’t say anything about the major civilisations that existed in Africa, and the advances they had made in technology, and the developments that were taking place and the organisation that existed among those people.
I just want to give you some indication, if I can use this thing [using projector] of [indistinct] ..and the African Reparations Movement UK, and you can’t see that very well which is unfortunate [looking at projector screen]. But when the campaign for ARM UK started, one of the things they did was begin to talk to local authorities about the return of Africa objects. This may seem a minor thing in the light of the problems African people face in both Africa and in the diaspora, but it was considered a symbolic and important thing. And one of the things that was organised, and Bernie Grant himself took part it in, was a picketing of museums. In particular they picketed the Royal Academy exhibition on Africa in 1996. And he also started negotiation with the Glasgow Council, because the Glasgow Council owns its museums. And they also have many of the Benin objects. That belongs to the British Museum [pointing to projection screen], but many of the objects taken from Benin during punitive expeditions during the 19th century at Benin. Some of you will be aware of that when they went up river, because one white man was killed the British sent the military to wipe out the royal city. So these are some of the objects they are beginning to talk about returning to Africa. And any of you who have been, particularly to West Africa (I’ve been to Ghana) â€“ we have more African objects in European museums than they are able to have in African museums. So that campaign has been one of the simplest and most straight forward, while at the same time beginning to talk with other groups and other countries about the things that can be done to begin to repair the terrible damage that has been done to the people in the African diaspora and on the African continent.
Again, just to give you some sort of indications when we talk about the wealth that was gained from the slave trade, this is one of the stately homes that was built on the backs of the slave trade [indicating image of a large house on the projection screen]. This is the home of the Harewood family. It is Harewood House. The Earl of Harewood is a cousin to the Queen, and they were able to build this magnificent country house on the back of their sugar plantations because their main thing was sugar plantations. This is just one of their sitting rooms [indicating photo of a room on the projection screen] and no doubt most of those paintings are worth an awful lot of money in themselves apart from the house.
So what we have is a situation where a lot of money was made. We know in Liverpool that a lot of the infrastructure, both in Liverpool and the north west, was built on the back of the transatlantic slave trade, and we can actually identify that quite simply. I’ve been very surprised when I started getting involved in the issue of the transatlantic slave trade and as a slave trade guide, to discover that the information wasn’t hidden. We know that the Bank of England started in 1698, for example, and that at time it was a private bank with private investors, and I’ve got a quote from when they were receiving their half-yearly dividends from the bank, and one man said’ ‘we should really call this the Bank of the West Indies because that is where most of our money comes from’. They were acknowledging themselves that their money was being made on the back of Africans who were enslaved and the products their enslavement was bringing into this country. The expansion of the canals, the development of the cotton industry â€“ which led to the destruction of the Indian cotton industry â€“ the destruction of the infrastructure in West African countries, alongside the development of the infrastructure in this country led to many of the problems that African people have now. If we look at Africa in the early days you would have seen metal being smelted, many goods being made â€“ which many people actually attributed to Europeans; they didn’t believe Africans were capable of making such objects. The great walls of Zimbabwe for example, the early Rhodesian government under Smith made it an offence to actually suggest that the walls of Zimbabwe were built by Africans, and for a long time the origin of those walls was denied. So there was complete propaganda which was justifying the European invasion and control in Africa.
But I want to go on to say a bit more about the issue of reparations and the contradictions that exist around it, because it has been suggested, as David said, that it took place a long time ago, and that Africans are better off here, and you could say that about any group for that matter. But if we look at the basis of reparations that existed among Europeans just since the Second World War, and look at the basis of those claims, for example, since the Second World War, I gave you some figures of the money Germany was expected to pay, but the terms on which they were given was that as a result of wartime activity of these countries there was, ‘bodily loss, loss of liberty and property, injury to professional careers, dislocation and forced emigration, time spent in concentrations camps and in prisons because of racial, religious and political persecution. Other burdens were caused by loss of life, and of family members and sometimes of whole communities as well as social and [indistinct] â€¦high cost of war, the value of civilian goods and services lost because of the war’. Payments have been made to individuals, to institutions and to states, in cash and in-kind, and goods and services, capital equipment, land, farms and farmers products â€“ all of the above terms could apply to African people and their terrible experiences throughout the centuries. For example, Germany made up a large part of the reparations to Jewish people and to Israel. For example, Israel was given $820,000,000 to settle 50,000 Jewish emigrants from lands formerly controlled by Africa. And they have gone on continuing to give reparations to Israel which wasn’t in being as a state until after the war. The justification for that is quite correct in my view. Iraq has had to pay reparations for its invasion of Kuwait, and yet we are still left with this situation where people argue why Africans should not be given reparations. And most people are concerned about the money involved in this, you know, ‘are we going to give everybody so much money?’ as I mentioned before.
So let’s start with the money, because even if we restore lands to people, to give goods, give capital equipment to assist people in their education - which some banks in America have done by the way, because a number of American groups have gone to banks that they identified as financing slave traders, and some of those banks have agreed to give scholarships to African Americans. There’s currently a number of insurance companies in America who are currently being sued as they were involved in insuring slave ships, and in saying that we should remember that the insurance industry in Britain started in Liverpool as a consequence of the slave trade. There’s a lot of evidence that insurance companies were paid in insuring ships and insuring against the loss of slaves, because in the early days, in the eighteenth century, slaves were classed as goods and chattels.
But let's start by looking at the money if we want to start with looking at money. I have a colleague who is better at finance than I am, or at least looking at it and interpreting it. In 1838 when enslaved Africans were emancipated in the Caribbean â€“ because this year we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery. It didn’t involve the abolition of slaves â€“ slaves still existed in the Caribbean on the plantations. The plantation owners were arguing that they couldn’t afford to end slavery, that the economy would collapse in Britain and in the Caribbean. And eventually the government, through Lord Derby one of our local aristocrats, negotiated with the plantations owners and they agreed that they would free the slaves in the Caribbean if they were paid compensation. So again we find that they were paid compensation. And they were paid a total of Â£20,000,000, and the British Parliament oversaw the distribution of that money. The plantation owners had to give details of all the slaves that they held â€“ those records are held in the parliamentary archives by the way, and I have seen some of them in which they have to list all those people that were enslaved, their age and how much they paid for them â€“ and then you were paid a sum of money. One of our local, and probably most famous slave trading family were the Gladstones. John Gladstone â€“ father of William Gladstone â€“ was a slave trader and had plantations in Guyana and Jamaica. He received the princely sum of over Â£80,000 which at that time [indistinct] â€¦if you look at the third lineâ€¦ [indistinct] is worth Â£1,342 .70 in 2006. Those figures I got from the internet by the way. [indistinct] â€¦in 2006. Therefore Â£1 in 1838 is Â£67.14 today. Â£20,000,000 in 1838 is worth Â£1,343,000,000 in 2006. So we were looking at the issue of reparations and the finance that would need to underpin it for people in the UK and people in the Caribbean and Africa. I think that would be [indistinct] â€¦Certainly the government needs to deal with the issue of racism very sharply in this country, and really put itself behind a really strong piece of anti-racist legislation. At the moment we haven’t got that. At the moment we have a Race Relations Act which is very weak and which means that people who are victims or racism or race discrimination have to take their own cases and don’t get any financial support for that. So although people like myself and others meet with discrimination we don’t deal with it or challenge it legally because it is too tedious and too expensive. So we might start off by having a stronger Race Relations Act, and a stronger more committed body to deal with that. We might also start to deal with the issues of racism in education. We might also continue to deal with it through issues of what we teach children in school about Africa, about its history and about the presence of African people in this country who have been here far longer than we are led to believe. People often talk about us arriving just after the Second World War â€“ I was born before the Second War World, so were many other people, and we’ve been around a long time, and the history shows that there’s plenty of documentation that we’ve been here for a while, maybe even a thousand years. Some people think the first Britons were probably the African people. So we want to start with revealing the truth, and I’m going to wind up now because I know time is of the essence. But I think you need to think about that figure, because that was money given to the plantation owners, and then a lot of them reinvested it in trade to the Far East. Nothing was given to the people who were freed from slavery, and many of them were glad to go back to their owners in order to survive. Can you imagine on a small island? You wouldn’t have anyway out of that.
I went to a conference in Martinique about reparations some years ago which was funded by UNESCO. And one of the things I remember was that the President talked about reparations. And he said that we mustn’t forget what happened to African people - we mustn’t forget he was talking about Martinique, about why African people are there â€“ because we want to remember. It is important that we remember. He said everyone involved should remember without hate and bitterness, and the best form and most effective reparations, as he saw it, was a proper and equal sharing of the riches of the world, because he said that would be the most effective form of reparations which would benefit everyone. Thank you.
David Fleming: Thanks very much Dorothy. Esther will now speak. That figure that Dorothy showed there, 1.3 billion, has anybody been following the budget stuff this week? I have a feeling that that’s a little bit more than what we spend each year on the National Health Service. I think we spend about 1.1-2 billion each year on the Health Service, so just to give you some idea of how much it is.
Dorothy Kuya: It’s less than we’ve spent on the war in Iraq as well
Audience member: That’s right.
David Fleming: Esther, do come up
Esther Stanford: OK, greetings everyone. I’ve been introduced but I just need to give a little bit more context in terms of my presentation today. Not only am I a..., I don’t really define myself as a lawyer in that conventional sense although I am a lawyer but I’m a lawyer with a difference. I’m a jurist consult and that is a specialist lawyer whose expertise is in the science and the philosophy of law or [brief loss of sound]. Not only that, I’m not an academic, I’m actually a scholar activist and my understanding of the theory of reparations has actually been informed by practice. I am one of the legal team that actually developed a legal action within this country and filed it on 2003 and that was against the Queen, Queen Elizabeth II and the British government and this was following from the 2001 world conference against racism so I think I am qualified to be able to talk about some of the weaknesses and deficiencies in a conventional legal approach and I think some of those deficiencies have already been outlined. I also consider myself to be a freedom fighter and a new abolitionist because the world that we live in today is based on the inequities and inequalities of the past. So if we don’t understand historical enslavement we will never understand the contemporary forms of enslavement in the manifest ways that they occur today. Because the world that has been shaped by the experience of, primarily I would say of African enslavement that totally transformed the world, then that has created a global system of apartheid that means that these forms of subjugation continue to happen and not only just against people of African heritage but against other people as well so I just want to say that by way of introduction.
OK, I begin with the British view around this whole question because a lot of the time and what frustrates me must about having these discussions which every time I get up to speak and I’m not only a speaker but I travel around the world, I’m an active member of [interference, possibly the referendum] internationally, especially in the United States, there’s a formulation called in N'COBRA, the National Coalition Of Blacks for Reparations in America and I’m a representative for N'COBRA in Europe amongst other things but what really frustrates me is that the time is so limited and a lot of the time we cannot do justice to this issue because we want to start at the end. We do not lay a proper foundation to even have a proper dialogue rather than debate. So we are going to begin just by setting some context because I feel that that is the only way in which I can do justice to this issue. This is an issue which I live with, it’s part of my personal family and community legacy so please understand that this is not somebody speaking with an academic distance here. I’m going to begin with the British view, 1792, William Pitt the younger, Prime Minister, he said no nation has plunged so deeply into this guilt as Great Britain and of course he was talking about the guilt of chattel enslavement.
This is a newspaper article, 2003, I spoke about this legal action. It wasn’t only legal it was also extra legal and what that means is that you stretch the boundaries of existing law in order to transform law. So if I give you an example, civil rights movement. A lot of the actions that people who were fighting in the civil rights movement, not only in America but also in Britain, engaged in were classified as being “illegal”, ie demonstrations, sit-ins and boycotts and so forth, so you have to challenge the concept of unjust law. This is an article that was really highlighting this legal action that I was one of the legal advisors to the Black Quest for Justice campaign and we had Bernie Grant there in recognition of the early day motion that Dorothy has already mentioned and the work of the African reparations movement which Dorothy didn’t say that she was very involved with I don’t think. When I first began on my journey Dorothy was one of the first people that I connected with to really study, understudy what had been happening and what had been done so far.
Then we come to a British view in 1926, this is Sir Austin Chamberlain. He was the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time. He said certain crimes are regarded as being, in a peculiar degree, crimes against the human race. His Majesty’s government consider that there is a general consensus of opinion in civilised states that the slave trade constitutes a crime of this nature. I’ve put that up there for a reason because I’m then going to come to the position in 2006 of Tony Blair.
And then lets give you some of the landmarks in the reparation movement because we talk about African reparations but actually we have moved on a lot from just the concept of African reparations. We have defined something called Pan-African. Why? Because all around the world where you find people of African heritage, whether they define as Black British, African Caribbean, African American, wherever they’re from, we have reparations movements. So we realised that unless we created a strategy, a mechanism to bring all these different strands together, even so that we can share ideas, share our perspectives, share our realities, share our experiences, so that when we actually go forward we go forward as a united front, because this is a huge phenomena we’re talking about. This is not just one country, one people, we’re talking about various nationalities that we have ascribed to ourselves, various identities that we may now call ourselves but yet we have find a way of bringing all this together. Some of the key landmarks I’m going to mention that have been part of this movement that again I’m giving you some of the history because what we also had to do was go back to the history of reparations organising and [brief loss of sound] reparations movement that Dorothy and Bernie Grant and others were involved in was a very significant landmark especially because of that early [brief loss of sound] and the involvement [brief loss of sound] African government as well but we have to go and do the research on what has been the history of reparations [brief loss of sound] and I have here in terms of the publishing of the thoughts and sentiments on the evil and wicked traffic of the slavery and commerce of the human species in 1787 by Ottobah Cugoano because in this treatise, it has recently been published by Penguin, I suggest you go and read it. Ottobah Cugoano actually calls for reparations including restitution [brief loss of sound]. In the movement we have worked [brief loss of sound] reparations advocacy within Britain and the earliest date we have is 1787. So if you like, all of us are on [brief loss of sound] this baton, particular point that we find ourselves in history [brief loss of sound]. There was a 2001 world conference against racism where for the first time 168 governments acknowledged that slavery was a crime against humanity. For those of you that know anything about international law, crimes against humanity necessitate that those that admit responsibility for causing crimes against humanity have an obligation in international law to effect repairs or reparations. That was the significance of Durban. It also acknowledged that colonisation and racism, in particular anti-Black racism and Afrophobia, which is anti-African prejudice and discrimination are a direct result of enslavement, not only chattel slavery but colonial enslavement, because when we say these words, what do they mean? What does that describe? Actually, in colonialism you have the same things going on in your homeland, you were just not transported overseas. Then we had the African and African Descendants World Conference Against Racism which was a follow up to Durban for African descendents to really come together and strategise - what would reparations look like for us in the fields of education, healthcare, spirituality, culture, sport and so forth? We filed the Black Quest for Justice lawsuit 2003, it was legal and extra legal and the reason why we were doing it is that a lot of the time lawsuits, and I can tell you about the American ones, not one of them has actually run on the basis of which they have been filed but they are good discussion points and they are good public educational and mobilisation tactics. So it gets us talking and so there is a value. What we did is we tested the law because after Durban, Britain was a signatory for the World Conference Against Racism intergovernmental programme of action. The actual strategy they designed was the race equality and community cohesion strategy called Improving Opportunities, Strengthening Society, although if you read that document and you go to the Durban document they are poles apart. But in international law if it’s acknowledged slavery is a crime against humanity, in British law if you want to bring proceedings for crimes against humanity you have to seek the permission of the Attorney General, who is appointed by who?
Audience member: The Queen
Esther Stanford: OK. And what we were trying to do was sue the Queen, so you are actually asking the government to sue itself and to give you permission to sue it. Ridiculous. So you can imagine the response we got. Actually the Queen is sovereign. This was at the same time they were going to remove Saddam Hussein who, whatever the politics and whatever your view on him, he was a sovereign head of state. So that then exposed the inadequacy of taking a conventional legal approach. As a lawyer, activist, strategist we talk about within law critical legal studies, law as resistance. What that means is that yes, law can actually be used to dehumanise and be used to legitimise the illegitimate but you can always use it as a double edged sword, as a way to resist oppression. So that meant thinking outside the legal box. Then we had a reparations conference last year and now we’re getting ready to prepare our genocide petition, which is what slavery and its legacies are. We can prove that in international law. We are getting ready to file this historic petition that really is a remake of a petition that was filed in 1951, some of the signatories were people like Paul Robeson, WEB Dubois, Claudia Jones among others.
The Abuja proclamation. The damage which is the 1993 conference Dorothy talked about that was so significant because that brought together this notion of historical chattel slavery and many of us who might have come out of the Caribbean Diaspora experience with people on the continent, recognising the common experiences as a result of chattel enslavement and colonial enslavement. The damage sustained by the African peoples is not a thing of the past but is painfully manifested in the damaged lives of contemporary Africans from Harlem to Heraro, in the damaged economies of the Black world from Guinea to Guyana, from Somalia to Surinam [applause]. This is 1993, so it’s showing you the starting point for recognising reparations is not for the past. In fact, we were the only group in the world that had this vision. It’s the same position of Human Rights Watch. When you are trying to bring a claim for reparations you start on the basis of the contemporary effects of whatever the act or injustice was. You don’t start with what happened to our ancestors, you look at how are we are being impacted today because that’s the only way that makes sense. Because why are we talking about what happened hundreds of years ago when we don’t connect it to our present reality.
Moving on to the British view 2006. It is hard to believe that what would now be a crime against humanity was legal at the time. So what happened? What happened in between 1792,1926 and 2006? I’ll tell you what happened, Tony Blair’s a lawyer and that statement that he gave, a statement of regret in November had to go through legal. Why? Because the British government has been knowing, recognising the way of the global movement that has been growing and growing and growing and knows that this is undeniable. There is a just claim not only in law but in equity on natural justice. So that is why this was the position in 2006.
Enslavement, we say these words sometimes, what do they mean? Equiano, a lot of people are making a big fuss about Equiano. What did he have to say? 1794, “When you make men slaves” and women I would include there â€“ “you deprive them of half their virtue. You set them in your own conduct an example of fraud, rapine and cruelty and you compel them to live with you in a state of war.” So the starting point for any discussion on reparations must be allowing us to define for ourselves what reparations is and how we even frame this conversation. That must be the starting point. Yes people are entitled to a viewpoint but I would humbly suggest if you are going to allow us and recognise our humanity then allow us to speak and define and frame the issue for ourselves in our own interests. We actually are moving away from terms like slave and slave trade because again we are on a journey. Why is it in 2007 that we are having this conversation even around an act of 1807? It means that we are on the journey and every little stage that we go through adds something. So whilst we were at a particular state of consciousness then we would talk about the slave trade but now we have a higher consciousness and it can only be informed by active involvement in the process. So we have defined it, muafa was the first term and that was part of finding words from African languages to describe our experiences. Because one of the things that was done was you take away a people’s language, their culture, their ability to conceive, to philosophise in their indigenous thought processes. So the word slave in English means a different thing in many African languages. We say muafa because that meant a disaster in Kiswahili. Why Kiswahili? Because the largest amount of people of African heritage speak it. As part of our pan-African journey back to our identity we thought key Swahili. But then when we analysed it further muafa would be like saying slave trade, because it could be a natural disater, so the term is muanga misi, just like with Jewish people the term they use for the holocaust is Shoah and that’s like a burning in black fire in hell. So these are the words. You always go to the people to define their experience. What happens when we categorise a muanga misi as the slave trade? The injuries are distorted and hidden, it sanitises the high levels of violence and mass murder that was inflicted. It also becomes more of a commercial issue than a moral one and since trade is the primary focus the mass murder and genocide can simply be attributed as being collateral damage.
Now lets go to â€“ I’m moving on because of time â€“ fully defining the depth of injuries. I know I won’t have time to go through all of this but when I do this presentation I go through the stages of chattel slavery. Because when we say slavery, slave trade, we are talking about overthrowing of independent governments, assassination of independent leadership, imposition of state sponsored martial war and terrorism, proliferation of weapons and slaughter that we’re still experiencing today, ie in terms of gun crime, lets look at that. Introduction of a white religious deity or god, lynching murders and castrations, elimination of our original spiritual systems, massive of rape women, men and children, destruction of civilisations, elimination of original languages. Why can’t I speak my original tongue, my mother tongue? History and identity, so Egypt becomes out of Africa and they are always classified as being whiter skinned. We are talking about importation and experimentation of diseases. We are talking about a black inferiorisation process and the white superiorisation process. Curtailment and massive violations of civil, human and people’s rights. Then we go to colonialism or colonial enslavement. Carving up of the continent of Africa. These borders that are still there that are formenting ethnic conduct to this day. So then we talk about Lucifer in Africa. Francophone Africa. Anglophone in Africa. Africa is still not sovereign because of the borders that were put there by Europeans and still serve European interests. [Unclear word] up in 1884, continuation of wars of destabilisation, massive extermination programme. Lets talk about Heraro in Namibia. Lets talk about what happened in Kenya. We’re talking about a massive incarceration of peoples, wholesale theft of land, the establishment of colonial regimes, military invasion and annexation. Imposition of direct or indirect rule, cultural genocide, ie the civilising mission. We’re talking about metropolitan control of the economy, lets just look at even the world trade rules today that are still creating these systems of inequality, armed robbery, plunder of land, minerals and resources that continues today. Logging, in terms of the Democratic Republic of Congo, taking away, removing us away from our laterally, environmentally sustainable way of life to make way for this mass commodification.
Politicisation of indigenente which is what happened in Rwanda. When your resources are being extracted you then become so politicised about who should belong there. Who are the lateral owners of that land? In position of unequal cheatings. Now, I'm trying to rush because I want to end this. Neo-colonialism - that's now.
So we add on top of all of that, police brutality. Deaths in custody. Go and visit your local prison and see the proportion of black people of African heritage in this country - less than 3% - but look in prison, look in the psychiatric institutions. Look at what's happening around school exclusions and black young children. Children of mixed heritage as well.
Destruction of our indigenous economies. Institutional systemic and structural racism, anti-black racism and afrophobia. We have to begin to define it as anti-black or anti-African in the same way we talk about Islamaphobia and anti-semitism. Let's be very specific. Assassinations.
Moving on very quickly I'm coming now to reparations. That must be the context. These are some of the atrocities by the way which we haven't got time. We had formal legal equality in Britain in 1976 with the introduction of the Race Relations Act. Formal legal equality in 1976.
Then we had a Race Relations Amendment Act in 2000. So what does it mean that we only had formal legal equality in 1976? What happened between 1562, which is the official beginnings of English involvement in the [indistinct] or the chattelisation of Africans, and 1976.
So, let's really question how much better off really are we? If in law, the law of this land, not only black peoples but I'm talking specifically about black peoples of African heritage, but we only had formal legal equality in 1976.
Genocide and why we're saying reparations is because slavery was a genocide. When people think of genocide, according to the 1948 Genocide Convention, we often think of the top one - killing members of a group- but actually genocide is also causing serious bodily harm or mental harm to members of the group. Deliberately inflicting on a group conditions of life calculated to provoke [indistinct] within the group. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group - look in the care homes.
Not only is genocide a crime, these are also crimes. Conspiracy to commit genocide. Direct and public incitement to commit genocide. Attempt to commit genocide. And complicity. What we're saying is that we believe the British government has been complicit at the very minimum of continuing genocide. Ok.
Reparations then, where are we coming to?
Let me just point something out. This thing about empire. Did you know that Queen Elizabeth II is the world's largest landowner. She has legalised title to one-sixth of planet earth. Check out a book called 'Who owns the world?' by Kevin Cahill. So this notion somehow that land, let's go into land ownership, even in Britain.
That's tied to wealth because when we're looking at multinationals they're still extracting wealth and it is legalised. It's not legal, it's because they are protected. And when we look at the new scramble for Africa today. This is the context. We need to understand this. This is the Agone people. We're talking about land reclamation because land is also about the right to whatever comes off the land. That's why land is so significant to us.
The biggest indication of those that have wealth and those that don't are those that have land ownership. Only 15% of the 6.5 billion people in the world have legalised access to land ownership. So it means that we have a big problem. I go into some of the quotes from Garvey when he was in Britain. Some of the comments he made in 1928 on reparations. He said we must have every inch of our lands. Every one of our industries.[indistinct] returning to Britain, also championed reparations. This is part of the history.
Martin Luther King was also an advocate of reparations. What am I talking about? It's not just a matter of money as Dorothy has said. Reparations is mostly about making repairs. Self-made repairs on ourselves. Mental repairs, psychological repairs. Cultural repairs, organisational repairs. Social repairs, economic, political, educational, repairs of any type that we need to recreate and sustain vibrant black societies.
Professor [indistinct]. He says 'More important than any monies to be received, more important than any land to be recovered, is the opportunity the reparations campaign offers us for the rehabilitation of black people, by black people, for black people. Opportunities for the rehabilitation of our minds. Our material conditions. Our collective reputation. Our cultures. Our memories. Our self-respect. Our religion. Our spirituality. Our political traditions and our family institutions. But first and foremost for the rehabilitation of our minds.'
What does that mean? I haven't got time to go into that. I've shared with you four main angles in international law.
Compensation is just one of them and it's really problematic when we say reparations we just limit that to compensation.
In international law reparations is first of all about restitution. Putting people back into a position they would have been in had all those injuries that I rushed through not occurred. That's about repairing ourselves. What would it take to make us whole? Not only as people but as humanity because humanity has also been damaged. You cannot enslave a people and not become dehumanised yourself.
Now, we're talking about planet repairs. Because the environmental chaos and environmental racism which is a direct legacy of enslavement some of us are not even guaranteed a tomorrow. That's the reality, time is running out. But it's also about guarantees of non-repetition. It's also about rehabilitation. That's about dealing with our mental well-being. The damage of inter-generational trauma, crossed down in our families, in our communities, in our inter-personal relations, in our inter-communal relations.
It is also about reclaiming sovereignity. Reclaiming self-determination. If I can give you an example, we talk about the United States of America. Why don't we talk about the fact that the indigenous Americans who have natural sovereignity of that land are in reservations.
What we are saying is that in terms of Africa, Africa needs to regain its sovereignity by eliminating some of these colonial borders that are not serving our interests and that's why our people continue to suffer. It is about the elimination of the global system of apartheid. I actually do a whole presentation on the four angles of reparations, restitution, satisfaction guarantees and non-repetition, compensation and rehabilitation. And there's about 20 different points on what that could look like.
The point is that we need to engage our people and the rest of this nation in this conversation.
So, the first thing that we are calling for is a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission which will be developed by an all-party parliamentary commission where we can give testimonies, give hearings in the same way that the passing of the 1807 Act to abolish the so-called transatlantic slave trade that were parliamentary hearings. We need to create an inclusive process so that we can avoid community divisiveness which will naturally come about because people are ill-informed about the dynamics of this thing.
That must then be coupled with a national dialogue on reparations. I'll leave you with that.