THA Chief Sec: Royal families must pay for slavery

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine speaks at Emancipation Day celebrations on Monday at Store Bay Heritage Park, Crown Point, Monday. – David Reid

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine has urged black people to continue speaking about the horrors of slavery until royal families in Europe sincerely apologise and pay reparations to their former colonies,

Augustine’s message came at Monday’s Emancipation Day celebrations, Store Bay Heritage Park, which brought the curtains down on the 2022 Tobago Heritage Festival.

He told those gathered it is a privilege to be celebrating noting that August 1 is an important holiday. Reminding Tobagonians that it has been 188 years since slaves in TT became emancipated, he said given the traumas and the enslavement of the African ancestors, black people must be celebrated.

“I want you to tell every single idiot out there that says we must stop talking about the horrors of slavery – we must tell them to shut up.”

He said the Jews will forever talk about what happened to them in the Holocaust and the near six million of them that were murdered by Nazi Germans. Holocaust survivors, unlike descendants of African slaves, have received reparations.

“Why should we shut up about the horrors that we faced?” Augustine asked.

“We must talk about it until such time as those who are responsible become repentant for their sins. We must talk about it until such time that those that are responsible decide to pay us reparations for what they owe.

“We must talk about it until such time as the unrepentant royal families in Europe are apologetic sincerely for their inheritance.”

He said if one inherits stolen goods and continues to be benefit without paying for them or even returning them, “you are just as much of a thief as your parents.”

He urged TT to stand firm with the rest of Caricom in demanding reparations.

“We must stand firm with the rest of Caricom in demanding that they apologise. In fact, there is no royal family out there that is more royal than our own families. I say that without any fear.

“Just as we demand as Dr (Eric) Williams in 1944 in his seminal pieces – that it was the commercial capitalism of slavery that led to the industrial development of you. That is why we are owed, but just as we are demanding reparation, we must also demand responsibility. We must demand responsibility from each other first and foremost – we must demand that we be responsible for taking care of each other.”

He said for some reason, the population remains a group of people that shuns unity.

“For some reason, we are afraid of coming together. But I wish to tell you this evening that our coming together makes us more powerful than you can even imagine and we have to find a way to be united. We must demand that we would be responsible for finding a way to change all of those colonial rules that keep us from economic development, self-actualisation and that stymies our creativity.”

He said society still has much growth to achieve.

“Freedom is never ever a destination, but it is always a journey. We have work to do, we have to work with each other, hold each other’s hand and if nowhere else can get it right, please, black people of Tobago – let us demonstrate that we can get it right. Let us demonstrate that we can hold each other’s hand, that my neighbour can prosper without me wanting to work obeah on him to kill him off.”

He said Tobagonians must not let envy get the better of them.

“The way God does do blessings, he just probably ent reach by you yet. He is in the neighbourhood, so celebrate your neighbour’s blessings and when yours come, we would celebrate yours too. That it is okay black people of Tobago to be proud of who you are and to celebrate within the castle of your own black skin.”