Rastafarians in Saint Lucia have welcomed the signing of a £20 million reparations agreement between the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Glasgow.
The two institutions have signed the first ever agreement for slavery reparations since British Emancipation in 1838.
The terms of the agreement that was signed last month call for the University of Glasgow to provide £20 million to fund research to promote development initiatives to be jointly undertaken with The UWI over the next two decades.
The sum of £20 million was the amount paid to slave owners as reparations by the British government when it abolished slavery in 1834.
The President of the Iyanola Council for the Advancement of Rastafari (ICAR), Aaron ‘Ras Iron’ Alexander has welcomed the reparations agreement.
Alexander observed that people have been asserting that reparations will never happen.
“These are people who have no hope; these are people who have no confidence in the future,” he declared.
The ICAR President expressed the view that Rastafari is the future.
He explained that reparations was just one of the issues that ICAR has brought to the fore for many years which is being ‘manifested’ now.
“The words of Rastafari are coming to pass,” he observed.
“I believe if other universities would follow suit, I think it will be a great day for us because remember – the Jews got reparations from Germany; the Ethiopians got reparations from the Italians after the invasion; so there is precedence for this kind of thing to happen,” Alexander noted.
He said it was fitting that the sum involved is £20 million, which he described as the exact amount paid by the British government to plantation owners for the liberation of the slaves.
“Emancipation and the liberation of slaves did not just happen; it was actually bought,” Alexander told reporters.
But he declared that the slaves were at the losing end.
“After the abolition of slavery, emancipation and so on, the slaves got nothing. They were told that they were free; they had no land, no property – nothing,” the ICAR President explained.
He said as a result it was high time that something be paid to the Africans.