Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, has declared that the issue of reparations must be confronted ???in order to complete the circle of economic freedom and the quest for political and economic disenfranchisement???.

He made this assertion on Thursday, during the Emancipation Day cultural presentation and ceremony at Independence Square, The City, which concluded the inaugural From Emancipation to Independence Freedom Walk and Historic Tour.

Stating that reparations remained ???an elusive quest for justice???, the Minister charged, ???unless we engage in purposeful dialogue and discussion on the issue, it would never go away???.

Admitting that reparation was not a subject everyone was comfortable discussing, he insisted, ???the way this ought to be addressed is a peaceful one; one based on dialogue, engagement [and] one that would have a focused and targeted agenda???.

The Culture Minister explained that within the Barbadian context, the Commission for Pan-African Affairs, the Task Force on Reparations, and the Government were on a mission to achieve compensation for the historic, economic, social and political wrongs that were inflicted on the island ???by those who oppressed and suppressed our ancestors???.

He stressed: ???Compensation for the drudgery of the slave trade and for enslavement remains a burning issue on the agenda.???

Moreover, he lauded the decision by CARICOM Heads of Governments to establish a Regional Task Force on Reparations – which is chaired by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart – and described the move as ???one of the most important decisions, certainly within my time???.

???I know that it is a decision that would send strong signals not only to our respective communities across the globe, but one that would conjure up in our ancestors a sense of pride and dignity, that at the very highest level of CARICOM??? our Heads of Governments have determined that the issue of reparations must be given a key priority,??? he said.

Minister Lashley added that this decision was also historically gratifying, particularly for leaders of the Pan-African community in Barbados and abroad.

???You have walked a lonely road in my view??? The Rastafari community in particular, has been championing the cause of black awareness within this country and beyond for many years??? We have leaders in Barbados who have taken up the vanguard of Africanism and black identity,??? he asserted.

Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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