We are not asking for what is not ours. We are asking for what Britain, France, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, America and the others owe us", says Dorothy Kuya, an anti-slavery advocate. An African-American activist added: "After the [Second World] War, the Jews demanded reparations and got it! It is time for ours!"
These are some of the ideas coming through loud and clear from people of African descent spread all over the world. Under the aegis of the annual commemoration of the abolition of slavery cum Black History-Month in the city of Liverpool a city which became a city on the back of the African Slave Trade, advocates met on 23 August 2011 and explored many facets of slavery-from organised brutalities to exploitation, to racism, and to the other sins committed against Africans during the 400 years of the transatlantic slave trade.
In considering the many things that occupied the minds of the slavers, one stands out like a sore thumb - a quote attributed to Queen Victoria: "If Africans were real human beings, then it would be wrong to trade in them"! In 1999, UNESCO declared 23 August as the "International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition", and since then the debate on reparations and remembrance activities has been growing.
But now many activists say remembrance is not enough. "It is time for us to go beyond gathering to remind Britain and others of their shameful past. We must take the road to reparations," said an African-American who attended the events in Liverpool.
A chilling presentation of graphic images of criminality and cruelty during the slave trade was shown by the US-based organisation, Dread Scott. It was preceded by another presentation by a historian who dwelt on the humiliating experience of DRCongo under King Leopold II, and the spectacular resistance of slaves in Haiti which culminated in the defeat of the Spanish, and the French under Napoleon Bonaparte.
Many people attending the Liverpool events agreed that the success or failure of what Africa stands to achieve in reparation lies hugely with Africans; and unless Africans in the Diaspora did away with complacency and spoke with one voice, the fight for reparation would come to naught.
"For instance," one speaker said, "when Tony Blair was invited to an international conference on slavery hosted by South Africa, he delegated one of us [an African], Baroness Amos, to attend in his stead. And this...