Opposition Member of Parliament, Amanza Walton-Desir was among the persons who attended this morning’s apology for slavery by the descendants of a British slave plantation owner.
In an interview with News Source, the Member of Parliament said the apology issued by the descendants of John Gladstone, is an important part of the healing process.
She said the apology was appropriate, and the first step in achieving reparatory justice.
“It is important that we put this in context, because if you follow the 10 Point Plan for Reparation that CARICOM has laid out, you understand the apology is just the first step. Every journey begins with the first step. I think it was an important first step to healing 400 years of trauma that my ancestors, and the ancestors of most Guyanese would have faced,” MP Walton-Desir said.
Ms. Walton-Desir also noted that while she understands the concern of some persons about the sufficiency of the apology, she looks forward to the next step.
CARICOM’s 10 Point Plan establishes the need for a formal apology from the Governments of Europe, reparations, the development of indigenous people and the establishment of cultural institutions.
But African Rights Activist, Nicole Cole told reporters that the apology is simply not enough, though a step in the right direction.
“When you look at the conditions and what is happening to persons of African descent, just being within the skin, is like breathing while black is a crime, and so the indelible mark that slavery would have left, no apology can suffice, but it is a step towards admitting that a crime was committed and that people’s lives were disrupted because of this crime.”
Cole said for those reasons, she could not wholeheartedly accept the apology. She told reporters, that while the Gladstone Family has committed to work with the University of Guyana, the Guyana Reparations Committee continues to push for reparations.
“If he had said there is a commitment to ensure that within the British Institutions, all those institutions where you still have slave like things happening, his family is going to become advocates and ambassadors to ensuring that those things are actually torn down, reparations that we have been fighting for, for so long, the family is going to champion that,” she said.
The Chairman of Guyana Reparations Committee Dr. Eric Phillips accepted the apology from the Gladstone Family.