David Comissiong, chairman of the Caribbean Pan-African Network, has penned a 12-point explainer outlining the campaign for reparations for the legacy of crimes against humanity perpetrated against the sons and daughters of Africa by European nations, the United States and other North American governments.
During the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent from 2015-2024, the 12 points read as follows: No impunity; validation of our humanity; knowledge of our history; completion of the emancipation process; compensation must be proportionate to the crime; reparations must produce the just society; we Africans must exercise autonomy throughout the process; we must repair ourselves; self-repair will generate mass support for reparations; reparations must be a broad movement; the mass of our people must be intimately involved; network and establish new international legal structures.
Resistance to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was so organized and pervasive that Jean-Baptiste Durand of the Compaigne du Senegal attested that white slave traders had no other choice but to build fortified forts and barracoons along the west coast of Africa to provide protection “from the Negroes living in the country.”
Queen Nzinga, Samori Toure, Abdoul Kader Kane, King Menelik II, and other African leaders led the resistance movements against these slave incursions. Kader Kane, leader of the Futa Toro region in northern Senegal, wrote a letter to French authorities in which he stated: “We are warning you that all those who will come to our land to trade in slaves will be killed and massacred if you do not send our children back.”
The Rastafarian community in the Caribbean has long called for reparations. Former President of the Caribbean Rastafari Organization Ras Bongo "Wisely" Tafari has been championing the cause for decades.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done and we, the people, need to take it on our own to do it. We cannot just leave it to the politicians. Now is the time for us to really sit down and take reparations to another level. Don’t just leave it as if it is a cause solely for Rastafarians,” he said.
In reference to the 10th and 12 points detailed in the reparations program, human rights activist, author and Harvard Law School graduate Randall Robinson commented on how the slave trade practiced in the Americas was not restricted to national boundaries.
“Harvard Law School was established and made possible by a man named Isaac Royall Jr., who endowed the law school from proceeds he had gotten from the sale of slaves on his Antiguan sugar plantation. Our forebearers, with their appropriated labor, endowed Harvard Law School,” he said.
Citing other well-respected Ivy League schools, private corporations and even the construction of the U.S. capital city, Washington D.C., Robinson said, “So much of the U.S. institutional wealth has its roots in slavery.”
Comissiong concludes his reparations explainer by noting that “the time has come for the African and African descendant people of the world and their Governments to finally present their Reparations Bill to the current day successor Governments of those national Governments of Europe and North America that organized, facilitated, legitimized, financed, and benefited from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the associated system of racialized Chattel Slavery.
Onwards to the achievement of Reparations in this United Nations International Decade For People of African Descent!”