Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Understanding Racism And Reparations
Posted: November 12, 2001
An analysis by
Dr. Kwame Nantambu

As at this writing, the landmark World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) is already taking place in Durham, South Africa. The WCAR also focused on the issue of Racial Discrimination , Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. The WCAR is taking place amidst the reality that the major problem facing Afrikan people is European supremacy, which is masquerading under the sobriquet of racism, ethnocentrism (lack of tolerance of other cultures), etnocentrism (lack of tolerance of other races) and xenophobia (fear of other races) at their zenith.

This international conference was supposed to be a platform for open dialogue and discussion of the aforementioned. It was also supposed to be a cleansing process at all levels. However, that was not to be the logical case. The stark reality is that the only way racism can be expunged from the fabric of human inter-action is that it must be brought to the fore-front and not be put under the rug to be discarded. It does exist and it must be dealt with.

WCAR was the forum for such a process. It was convened 'to produce a declaration against racism and a program of action to prevent future discrimination'. What's wrong with this humane consensus? The fact of the matter is that no one is surprised that the U.S. Bush administration not only decided to send a low-level delegation but also to pull out of the conference before it ended.

Indeed, working on the theory that a government's foreign policy is an extension of its domestic policy then this action by the Bush administration surprises no one. President Bush's racial policy as then Governor of Texas his administration's arrogant and antagonistic posture towards affirmative action. and the GOP's Prison Industrial Complex policy both speak volumes to validate this U.S. pull-out in South Africa But as one organiser put it: 'The conference will succeed' and the U.S. withdrawal 'would not affect the success of the conference'.

Another theory issue at this conference was the issue of apology and reparations by Europeans for the enslavement of Afrikan people, the Afrikan Holocaust or MAAFA.

The Bush administration has totally rejected these two issues. This speaks volumes as to the aspects of racism that permeates U.S. foreign policy. The record shows that then U.S. President Bill Clinton apologised on 12 June 1998 to more than 2,200 people of Japanese ancestry who were forcibly taken from their homes in 13 countries in Latin America during World War II and were imprisoned in U.S. interment camps in South Texas.

In October 1997, the Roman Catholic Church of France atoned and apologised for its silence and begged 'forgiveness' for Catholic inaction as (Hitler's) regime sent Jews to their deaths in the 40s. And on 12 March 2000, Pope John II 'humbly' asked forgiveness for the Church 'to fail to recognise the betrayal of the Gospel by some of our brothers'.

So the question of apology for the brutal, inhumane treatment of a people is nothing new, the only issue if that when the oppressed are of Afrikan descent then the question of apology does not seem to apply.

This is blatant RACISM under European global supremacy at its zenith. And the Bush administration must not be allowed to escape from this historical reality. The issue of the payment of reparations is similar. The Euro-British slave owners, Jews, U.S. Alaska natives, Seminoles of Florida, Klamaths of Oregon and Chippewas of Wisconsin, American POWs of Vietnam's prisons, Filipino veterans, Euro-British farmers, etc, all have received compensation or reparations.

Let us recall that when the Euro-British Parliament abolished slavery in August 1834, the Euro-British slave plantation owners were given 'a free gift' 20 million pounds or US $91.2 m to compensate them for the loss of their slaves.

At the end of July 2001, the Euro-British government compensated Euro-British farmers who suffered losses from the foot and mouth disease epidemic that devastated their farm stock. These farmers received US $1.5 m and the European Commission also put up a total of US $60 m. And late as 1 September 2001, about 2,000 elderly Euro-Russian survivors of Nazi slave labour camps received up to US $6,500 each as compensation or reparation from the Euro-German government. The only people who have not received reparations are Afrikan people. And it is in this regard where European racism rears its ugly supermacist head.

The fact of the matter is that the European government of Portugal, Spain, Britain, France, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and the United States all owe Afrikans the sum total of US $777 trillion in unpaid wages or reparations. And the Afrikan peoples and governments who are owed this money are the countries from which the Europeans got their human merchandise (whom they called slaves). These countries in Afrika are Nigeria, Angola, Ghana, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone.

In the case of the Caribbean, the countries have already been documented by Dr. Eric Williams. The record shows that 40 % of Afrikans were enslaved on the plantations in the Caribbean, 40% were shipped to South America, the majority went to Brazil, about 15% went to the United States and the destination of about 5% is uncertain. The fact of the matter is that the British government needs to pay the bulk of that estimated US $777 trillion because it was Britain who benefitted the most from this Afrikan enslavement. This is because the Industrial Revolution took place in Britain, 1750 - 1850.

And payment should not be a problem. The amount has already been quantified, the countries identified and the European governments have been exposed, including the Euro-Christian Roman Catholic Church which legalised and sanctioned this inhumanity, in the name of God.

It was Pope Nicholas V who issued this religious authority to fellow Europeans on 8 January 1455 through his Popal Bull titled 'Romanus Pontifex'. In this decree, he authorised the Euro-Portuguese 'to subject to servitude all infidel peoples'. While there are some Afrikan governments who are against the payment of reparations, this should not come as a surprise. One just has to look at history. In the 15th century, Afrikan Tribal Chiefs sold out their own people to various Europeans and were given gold, guns, trinkets, alcohol, etc, as a quid pro quo.

At the WCAR conference, it need occasion no great surprise or divide that some Afrikan governments were against the payment of reparations by Europeans. This is no surprise. Indeed, there are some Euro-centric Afrikan-Trinis who are also against the payment of reparations. This derived, solicited position only proves that the disbursement of money and the dangling of possible political power position both work all the time. Money talks.

The quid pro quo that these opposing Afrikan and Caribbean governments now receive is called foreign aid, foreign economic assistance and/or foreign military sales (FMS).

The fact of the matter is that these political leaders who are called Prime Ministers or Presidents have now been labeled by this writer as contemporary Geo-political House-servants because they are performing the same sell-out functions as the 15th century Afrikan Tribal Chiefs. This writer has just updated their role under globalisation. Nothing has changed. This sell-out only represents the re-incarnation of the 15th century European ploy or maneuver of Divide and Rule/Conquer.

It worked successfully to maintain, perpetuate and strengthen European global control and dominance in the 15th century; it worked once again in South Africa in September 2001 to promote Euro-U.S. controlled globalisation con-game.

Globalisation is nothing but the spreading and deification of the supremacy of Euro-American global capitalism. And that's precisely why the International Action Center (IAC) an organisation based in New York City, has been formed to protest against and challenge the oppressive 'Goliaths' of Globalisation which include the IMF and World Bank, among others.

The fact of the matter is that the research and commission-like action are already on the way to demand reparations from these European governments. This Commission is doing its work in Washington, D.C., U.S.A. As conscious Africans, we do not expect re-colonial Caribbean governments and leaders to support this demand for fair of retaliation from their current, sole, Euro-slave master, the United States. However, the masses will be in the fore-front in this endeavour.

The demand for reparations payment is not an individual cheque to a single person but a macro payment to countries. This payment may include the cancellation of foreign debt owed to these accused European governments, socio-infrastructural development funded projects, etc. It must be a macro approach and not an individual, micro approach to make historical sense and be meaningful.

Shem Hotep

Dr. Nantambu is an Associate Professor, Dept. of Pan-African Studies, Kent State University, U.S.A. a Public Policy versus Human Needs

Previous Page / Nantambu's Homepage / Archives / Trinicenter