|Volume 50 Number 29, August 1, 2020||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
Brixton will once again be the starting point for the annual march organised by the Stop The Maangamizi Campaign and the Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee to demand reparations as a start to the process of repairing the vast damage to human beings and their natural and social environment by the enslavement of Africans over centuries. The event is also backed by Extinction Rebellion (XR) supporters.
This is the seventh Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March. It is due to assemble in Brixton at 9am on August 1, and organisers say this one will involve "locking down" Brixton to enforce a traffic-free zone on Brixton Road "in a little contribution to lowering pollution levels in the area".
Esther Stanford-Xosei, spokesperson for the Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee, and coordinator-general of the Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide Campaign, said the theme of this year's march was uniting for survival as the Maangamizi - the continuing mass destruction caused by the enslavement of African people - represents ecocide.
"Our people have been prevented from breathing for centuries," she said.
One of the speakers at an online conference on July 21 was Lambeth Green Party councillor Scott Ainslie, who instigated the full-council resolution that commits it to back the campaign. He said that he supported the movement because it is the right thing to do, and the time is right. Social justice and environmental justice were two sides of the same coin, he said.
Lambeth council is, so far, the only local authority to back unequivocally the demands of the campaign, including a call for an all-party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry for Truth and Reparatory Justice to study the impact of the United Kingdom's transatlantic traffic in enslaved Africans on social, political and economic life within the UK and the rest of the world, and for reparations taking into consideration proposals in accordance with the United Nations Framework on Reparations.
Why We March on August 1
The Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee
The Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee formed in 2015 continues to build on work of the organisers of the first Reparations March RMUK and other supporting organisations on August 1, 2014, after such organisers decided that would be a one-off event. Various community members and their constituencies at the time insisted that they wanted to March to continue the efforts that had been made to more visibly bring to public consciousness awareness of a Reparations Movement.
The 1st of August was originally chosen as the day of the Reparations March because it is the officially recognised "Emancipation Day", marking the passing of the Act for the Abolition of slavery throughout the British Colonies; for promoting the industry of the manumitted slaves; and for compensating the persons hitherto entitled to the service of such slaves (also known as the Slavery Abolition Act) on August 1, 1833, and took effect August 1, 1834. The significance of this date in history is that it is the date that after all the years of resistance by chattelised Afrikans, torn away from our Motherland, Britain and its fellow European enslavers of Afrikan people were compelled to recognise that they could no longer continue to enslave us without severe consequences. It therefore represents a symbolic day recognising our refusal to accept enslavement, in every manner, including its present-day manifestations and to remind ourselves of the need for our true emancipation, which wi ll not occur without holistic Reparatory Justice.
Contrary to popular belief, however, the Slavery Abolition Act did not free Afrikans who were then unjustly considered to be the legal property of Britain's enslaving class. In fact, the act contained a provision for £20 million financial compensation to the enslavers, by the British taxpayer, for the loss of their so-called "property". That sum represented 40% of the total government expenditure for 1834, the modern equivalent of between £16bn and £17bn and represented the largest bailout in British history until the bailout of the banks in 2009. It was the British Houses of Parliament, which in this unjust piece of legislation, upheld the notion that the Afrikan enslaved and their descendants were not human, but property and determined that our people in the Caribbean were assessed as having a market value of £47 million.
The British Parliament also determined that enslaved Afrikans in British colonies would receive nothing. Instead they were forced, through the provision of this unjust law, to pay the remaining £27 million costs for their so-called emancipation by providing 45 hours of unpaid labour each week for their former "masters", for a further four years after the passing of the Abolition Act. Clearly, the British state cemented this legalised form of injustice by forcing the enslaved to pay part of the costs for their legalised "manumission". It was recently discovered that up until 2015 our people and other members of the British public were paying taxes which went into paying off the "debt" that was incurred by the British Government as a result of compensating European enslavers with the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act.
Fast forward to the contemporary era, the Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March has aims and are the reasons why we march on August 1. Please visit www.reparationsmarch.org to familiarise yourself with the aims.
The March is supposed to be a culmination of the work that people are engaged in all year round on reparations, which is represented in the messages and banners for the March and show of strength, but unfortunately it is still seen as a one-day event with no attention paid to reparations/activism the other 364 days of the year. August 1 allows us to tie in and reclaim a day popularly known and commemorated as "Emancipation Day" and reclaim it as a "Reparations Day", which enables our people also living in "former British colonies" to engage with it too.
Many former colonies have August 1 as a public holiday as granted by their governments, often on the basis of activists on the ground who feel it is importance to commemorate the struggles of our Ancestors for emancipation. The Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee (AEDRMC) is not advocating a state granted public holiday and feel there is more power in disruption in London to state agencies and the economy as well as the increase in visibility to international tourists during the holiday season. We do not advocate state recognition of a day where they will as they always do, redefine the narrative, hijack and take credit for the day! Please note that the petition gets the same response whether MPs are sitting or not. The disruption to London happens whether MPs are there or not! [...]
We in the AEDRMC emphasize that the March is not the whole Reparations Movement, but only an aspect of it in terms of a street protest that happens annually. It is important that other initiatives that other groups, organisations and individuals in the Afrikan Heritage Community are showcased on August 1, as stipulated in one of the aims of the March; hence why we have chosen the theme STOP TERMINATING OUR PEOPLE: REDRESSING YOUTH MENTICIDE/ECOCIDE for this year's theme.
The challenge is being put to our people to bring forth and promote the work they have been doing on reparations all year round. It is easy to see the inadequacies in what other people do but far more transformative when we ourselves focus on the change that we are making, individually and collectively.