Caption – Ambassador, David Comissiong presents a copy of the children’s book ‘R is for Reparations’ to Global Leader of the Mabalozi Carmelia Alleyne, in the presence of (l-r) Jayden Turton of Workman’s Primary, Adriann Caddle- Hillaby of Turners Hall Primary, and Kymani Clarke and Olivia Payne of Workman’s Primary. (S.Maughan/BGIS)

Some primary school students will now have a better understanding of what reparations mean in the context of the Caribbean, thanks to the addition of a new book on the subject.

Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong, made the presentation of the book entitled R is for Reparations to Mabalozi programme, as part of the reading material for schools, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Culloden Road, St. Michael.

In his remarks, the envoy said the book expressed activism and was based on children’s simple and innocent ideas about what was fair and just, and why unfairness was wrong. 

He described the book as “very positive” and “assertive”, with children approaching the issue of justice for themselves, their families, and community, and for African people in a very positive manner.

“For example, they tell you ‘B’ is for black people – strong, beautiful, black people with beautiful hair.  We want to be treated as humans. Being human means not being treated like animals. Being together, being safe, being happy – not being afraid of anything.  We want to be free; not being judged by the colour of our skin.  No barriers, no bad words, and no banning immigrants.  No building walls between people; no bullying – [and that] everyone belongs,” he added.

He said that the book represents a childlike spirit for justice, fair play and decency, as well as the 12 principles of reparations – which include validation of our humanity, knowledge of our history, and completion of the emancipation process.

In addition, he pointed out that compensation must be proportionate to the crime; reparations must produce a just society, where no one must be left behind, and African people must exercise autonomy throughout the process. 

Caption – A student browsing the publication ‘R is for Reparations‘ at the presentation ceremony this morning at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. (S.Maughan/BGIS)

“We must repair ourselves – self repair will generate mass support for reparations [and] reparations must be a broad movement. The mass of our people must be intimately involved. [And we must] network and establish a new international legal structure,” he opined.

Explaining his role in the exercise, Ambassador Comissiong said that reparations was part of the agenda and work programme of CARICOM, and that in 2013, the Heads of Government decided they were going to launch a claim for reparations.

He stated that along with this claim, they also established a Reparations Research Centre at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies and a CARICOM Reparations Commission, where every member state of CARICOM would, in turn, establish a national reparations committee or task force.

In accepting copies of the book, Head of the Centre for Hybrid studies, Dr. Deryck Murray, said that the Mabalozi programme was concerned about building self-esteem among persons of African descent. 

He noted that it was important to examine all of the things that were positive about human beings so that persons develop their humanity.

The book on reparations was produced by the Nova Scotia branch of the Global African Congress.  It was written in February 2018 by 30 children aged seven to 12 in Halifax.