DNO recently carried a story to the effect that the Government of Dominica had set up a reparations committee in keeping with a Caricom decision to seek reparations from European countries that held former colonies with African slaves in the Caribbean. The Caricom secretariat’s website lists six broad areas that are the direct result of the crimes associated with slavery. The fourth listed area is stated as follows:
“Cultural Deprivation: The primary cultural effect of slavery was to break and eradicate African commitment to their culture. African culture was criminalized and the cultural basis of identity shattered. Africans were deculturalized and today remain impoverished in respect or cultural legitimacy and supportive appropriate institutional arrangements. These matters represent the colonial legacy of slavery and must be addressed. Contemporary manifestations of these include low ethnic self-esteem; the devaluation of black identity; broken structures and diminished family values; delegitimization of African derived religion and cultural practices, and disconnection from ancestral roots and culture”. (Emphasis added)
Some time back I had written an article which was published on DNO calling for the repeal of the law banning the practice of Obeah in Dominica. My reasoning on the matter was precisely the one stated by CARICOM. As we know Obeah is a clear manifestation of “African Derived religion and Cultural practices”.
While achieving some of the objectives of reparation might prove difficult if not impossible, redressing this aspect of the evil that was perpetrated on Africans in Dominica is easy and entirely within our grasp. All the power and resources needed to achieve this resides right here in our parliament and I hereby call on the authorities to convene a special sitting of the parliament of Dominica with all possible haste to repeal the obeah act so that we can start the process of reparations.