C'wealth meeting proved reparation demand is nonsense

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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Dear Editor,

So the latest Commonwealth summit has ended and, while all sorts of issues were discussed, one supposedly important issue was totally ignored. This is the issue of reparation for slavery. Was it because the leaders of our Caribbean nations felt too intimidated by the British Queen, was it because these leaders did not want to come across as fools on such a prominent world stage, or was it because they felt that, in reality, there is really no basis whatsoever for these reparation demands why the issue never came up?

I am going to be bold and say “yes” to all of those questions.

Many leaders in the Caribbean don't really think too much of their own people when one really looks at it. When they are at home, they brag about all sorts of rubbish about how proud they are of their peoples. Yet, when they stand in front of The Queen they shake in their boots. Maybe they think that, as they are from such small countries, they should not magnify their insignificance in the presence of the British sovereign, by making silly reparation demands.

No doubt, they haven't forgotten the embarrassment that the prime minister of St Vincent caused us a few years ago when he went to the United Nations General Assembly and made his demand for reparations in our name — making us Caribbean peoples into a total laughingstock. Or, maybe it was when the former British prime minister came to Jamaica and told our parliamentarians that they need to move one and forget reparation — forcing them to, as we would say, “hug up that”! No doubt they were determined not to repeat any fiascos like those again.

Imagine, these Caribbean leaders were in the very presence of The Queen, at dinner, and instead of raising the issue of reparation, they fill their bellies. I suppose it really is true what they say: The way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Indeed, contrary to demanding justice for slavery, they endorsed The Queen's 'request' that her son be made the next head of the Commonwealth — their boss. What brave fellows they were!

The absence of any legal basis for reparations was also greatly magnified by the Windrush issue. Many of our Caribbean peoples went to Britain during the colonial period and both they and their children were in danger of being kicked out of that country. Of course, this would have been a great injustice, as these Caribbean peoples and their descendants were, in fact, British subjects at that time — and they still are.

Recognising the wrongness of any attempt to kick out these people, the British Government has promised to make good the situation of these Caribbean immigrants and has even gone as far as to apologise for any harm that may have come to these Caribbean peoples — as it rightfully should do.

Now, if there was any legal basis for reparation, why did these Caribbean leaders not push through this demand too? — just as they pushed through the Windrush issue. Simple, because both they and the British, and the indeed the whole world, know that reparation have no legal basis whatsoever. Our Caribbean leaders may have been hungry for that royal dinner, but they weren't idiots. Imagine the poor queen dying of laughter, if they had done so!

Anyway, on a serious note: Now that the Commonwealth summit has proven just how ridiculous the demands for reparation are, shouldn't these reparation commissions take the hint and throw in the towel and disband now? It really is pathetic to see these supposedly highly educated intellectuals who are members of these commissions allowing themselves to be used as mindless tools, mostly to get votes, by politicians who clearly believe that their cause is only fit for comic relief.

Time to end this reparation nonsense!

Michael A Dinigwall


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