THE EDITOR, Madam:
While a minority of countries still observe today, October 12, as Columbus Day, The Centre for Reparation Research aligns itself with those who have renamed this day Indigenous Peoples’ Day and, since 2008, International Reparations Day.
It was on October 12, 1492 that Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas, the so-called ‘New World’; new to him, but old to many Africans and the Indigenous Peoples, and thereafter ushered in a cycle of occupation, violence, genocide and slavery. In the case of Jamaica, this cycle started in May 1494. The colonial project and European feeding frenzy off the resources of the Americas that followed, and which lasted for the next 400 years, disrupted humanity and did untold damage to the Caribbean and the wider Americas. The violent project of colonisation has left a deep and lasting impression and the consequences are seen everywhere.
CALL TO ATTENTION
To bring attention to the importance of this day, The Centre for Reparation Research has chosen to commemorate the third anniversary of its establishment on this day, by calling attention to the need for reparatory justice for our Indigenous Peoples who were so scarred by the Columbus Project. Our Symposium Theme (to be aired on UWITV at 8 p.m. Jamaica time today), ‘The Indigenous Peoples and Colonising Deformities’ is meant to indicate that colonialism disfigured the communities and civilisations of the various Indigenous Cultures; but as they were a resilient people, we can also learn about their strategies to defeat colonialism.
African people experienced their own holocaust in the aftermath of 1492 and on this day, therefore, we join with the descendants of enslaved Africans as well as with the Kalinago, Maya, Garifuna and other Indigenous Peoples of the Region to demand Reparation Now! for colonial atrocities and continuing harm. As that reparation warrior, the late Dudley Thompson, said: “The debt has not been paid, the accounts have not been settled”.
PROF VERENE SHEPHERD
The Centre for Reparation Research
University of the West Indies