Nettleford Proposes Investment in Human Resource Development as Reparation


Vice Chancellor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies, Professor Rex Nettleford, has stressed that on the issue of reparation, instead of capital transfer, there should be serious investment in human resource development in countries that suffered, by countries which have been enriched by the heinous crime of the slave trade and slavery.
He said this could be done preferably, “through the education and preparation of the young, to enable them to cope with the inheritance of a continuing unjust world. And above all, for them to be able to understand their own history and help to plug the knowledge gap.”
Professor Nettleford was delivering the keynote address at a special meeting of the 61st session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) in New York on March 26, commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
He warned member states of the international community that the African Diaspora could be forever affected by the legacy of slavery, unless help is provided by the rich industrialized nations.
The Professor noted that the African Diaspora was crying out for recognition and status in the new dispensation of globalization, which could be another calculus of inequality rather than an opportunity for universal human dignity and individual freedom.
Professor Nettleford said it was imperative that, “such dignity and freedom must continue to be on the agenda of all concerns and positive action for the African Diaspora in the new Millennium,” and that “crossing the boundary of thought to programmes of action that will benefit the millions that tenant the African Diaspora is itself an imperative.”
He told the UN that one of the profound challenges for the African Diaspora is to have the new globalization veered away from inherited obscene habits of racialised division of the world into the rich industrialized North and the poor non-Caucasian South, and that the harmonization of the two might well be the hope of a third Millennium world.
Professor Nettleford urged the African Diaspora to continue with its time worn strategies of demarginalization, reinforcing the intensity of the creative work in the expansion of communication arts serving humankind, allowing for the crossing of such boundaries of hate, intolerance, discrimination, racial arrogance, class exclusivity, intellectual snobbery and cultural denigration, which constitute the legacy of the slave trade and slavery.
“Such dialogue is all about the quest for peace, tolerance, justice, liberty, sustainable development, trust and for respect and human understanding and should not be seen as a threat, but rather as a guarantee for peace,” he said.
He urged that the commemoration event be part of an exercise to break the silence and tell the truth about what has evolved over the past 500 years, resulting from what he termed, “the greatest scourge of modern life”.
“It’s fitting that ones like us in the CARICOM Caribbean should be concerned with breaking the silence, that second most powerful act of oppression, which the African presence in the Americas has suffered for the past 500 years, with a resolve to have action follow intention through efforts like this very Special Assembly of the parent body. Such are the acts that define the journey by those who have been severed from ancestral homelands and suffered in exile on plantations, but have survived and continue to struggle beyond survival,” the Professor said.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) was represented at the meeting by Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis, who joined other speakers in denouncing the Trans-Atlantic Trade in Slaves as, “a crime against the humanity of our forefathers and a violation of their human rights.”
Other highlights of the event included a minute’s silence for the millions who suffered during slavery, and performances by the Sing Sing African Drummers ensemble of Senegal and the 50-voice Jamaica Independence Choir, under the direction of Choir Master, Lloyd Chung.
The meeting of the General Assembly came hours after member states of CARICOM observed Sunday, March 25, as the International Day for the Commemoration of the bicentennial of the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, in keeping with United Nations Resolution 61/19, drafted by Jamaica and adopted last November by the world body.

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