At colourful African Holocaust Day ceremony
Reparation calls for slave trade atrocities predominate
By Linda Rutherford
October 13, 2002
CALLS for reparation predominated at this year's African Holocaust Day observations held yesterday at the Seawall Bandstand enclosure and hosted for the sixth consecutive year by the African Cultural Development Association (ACDA).
Fired perhaps by developments which took place at the just-concluded African and African Descendants World Conference held in Barbados, ACDA Public Relations Officer (PRO) Ms Violet Jean-Baptiste, who was there at the caucus and slated to give the welcoming remarks at yesterday's commemorative service, said her organisation is not only committed to seeking reparation for the millions of Blacks who suffered one way or another because of the African slave trade, but has also rededicated itself to the cause.
Members of COLAACO (Centre of Learning And Afrocentric Orientation), the youth arm of the African Cultural Development Association (ACDA), rendering the first stanza of South Africa's National Anthem in the Yoruban tongue.
"We are committed in our organisation .... to keep focussed in our minds the African martyr, and we have rededicated ourselves to seeking reparation; reparation as in payment," Jean-Baptiste told the colourfully-attired morning gathering.
Noting that we here in Guyana are not alone in this struggle for reparation; that we are part of a much larger global movement, she said: "Let me assure you; let us take heart in knowing that Africans from all corners of the globe are commemorating the African martyr today, and committed to seeking reparation from the people that benefitted from the greatest crime against humanity."
In closing, she said: "I want to urge you as you leave here today, that you embark on a campaign within your group; within your homes; within your families; even at the street corners, to bring to mind this great tragedy, and to join the growing movement and add your voices to the call for reparations that's going out globally."
Senior officials of the local spiritualist movement making their peace with the denizens of the deep (or clearing the water as it is called) so that those wanting to pay floral and other tributes to their ancestors who perished in the Atlantic crossing during the African Slave Trade could do so. (Pictures by Mike Norville)
Taking her up on this challenge, Noah Yahshuarun who is the leader of the local group, the Kingdom of African Descendants and who has always had an interest in reparation, suggested that we go one step further; that we strive for nationhood.
He reasoned that "if we can have nationhood, we can join the United Nations; access the World Court; and sue Britain, Holland and France and those whom we have claims of reparation against."
He, however, cautioned that it was important to bone up on the history of the African slave trade if we are to build a "very strong case for the demand of reparation."
Like Tanzanian scholar, Muhammad Aly Zenzibari, Yahshuarun feels the only reason the Jews were successful in exacting reparation from all those who supported Hitler's genocidal 'Final Solution', as the plan to annihilate the race during World War 11 was called, was because they had the backing of Israel.
"This was so because they formed themselves into a republic while we still remain little fragmented organisations," he said.
This year's observation ceremony began shortly after 07:30hrs so as to catch the early morning high tide which was scheduled to rise at 08:20hrs.
Because of the time it took to complete the opening libation ceremony, as the summoning of the spirits of the ancestors is called, the lengthy programme of events had to be curtailed so as not to miss the tide.
The libation ceremony was presided over this year by Elder George Adams of the spiritual congregation at Eccles, on the East Bank Demerara, while the feature address, which looked at the plight of Guyanese Blacks today among other related issues, was delivered by Mr. Lennox King of the local PanAfrican Movement.
Among those present at the ceremony, resplendent as always in African attire, was acclaimed local artist, Mr. Phillip Moore, who celebrated his 81st birthday that day.
It was said that similar ceremonies were being observed around the same time in Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago.