Kalinago historian, Cozier Frederick, has made a strong case for a level playing field for Dominica’s indigenous people as moves continue to obtain reparations from Britain for African slavery and the near eradication of the indigenous people of the Caribbean.
Speaking at the Emancipation Lecture held at the Baracoon Building on the Dame Eugenia Charles Boulevard last week, Frederick said that the case of the Kalinagos should go hand in hand with that of the Africans.
“Our struggle has to move along with the African struggle,” he stated.
He said the Kalinagos were “squashed” into the rugged terrains of the north east when they refused to be slaves, and thus the idea to destroy them was born.
He noted that in order for the Kalinago people to survive in the capitalist enterprise “that brought in slavery”, they need economic empowerment, and they need to get themselves out of the “destitute situation” that they are in.
“It’s not a level playing field,” he argued. “The issue for reparation and the issues for the Kalinago as part of this reparation project are to level the playing field and to some extent (to) bring back some level of empowerment for the Kalinago people.”
Frederick also pointed out that it is “still very evident today” of the long standing plight of the indigenous people who were left devoid of basic amenities such as electricity, water, land ownership, purchasing a vehicle, among others.
“When you travel out of the community you go into a wider African Dominican community, and you see a different material condition. You are in a situation where everything seems to be against you,” he said adding that the Kalinago has come to the realization that they are being treated as third class citizens in Dominica.
“You go to Marigot, for example, or even Castle Bruce and you see the wall houses, the pickup trucks and you don’t see that within the Kalinago territory and why is that so?” he asked.
Meanwhile Chairman of the Reparations Committee, Dr. Damien Dublin, said that British legal firm, Leigh Day will partner with a Caribbean teams of lawyers on the reparation matter.
He explained that the firm was chosen because it recently won compensation for hundreds of Kenyans tortured by the British colonial government during the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950′s. There was an out of court settlement to the tune of $30.5-million in that matter.
Dublin is of the view that one very important aspect of the reparation is reconciliation and disclosed that among a 10- point action plan proposed by CARICOM is a full formal apology from European countries stating and recognizing that atrocities were done.
He said the role of the Rastafarian movement is also very important in the process.
“And we think that a formal apology needs to be extended to the Rastafarian movement for the injustices done to the Rastafarians right here in Dominica,” he opined.
According to Dublin, the Reparations Committee is also in support of the erecting of a monument in commemoration of the Kalinago struggle.
“The reparation struggle is just ethical and necessary,” he remarked.
The lecture was held on the topic: The case for Repatriations: Repairing the Consequences of Slavery.”