The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Hilary Brown, Programme Manager Culture and Community Development, CARICOM Secretariat, representing Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission. She highlighted the brutality of chattel slavery in the Americas, the negation of the human rights of Africans, the ideology of racism and the debt that “has not yet been paid for systemic exploitation, extraction of wealth, pain, suffering and psychological harm, leading to persistent poverty in the Caribbean and in Africa up until today,” as the basis for the establishment of the CARICOM Reparations Commission in 2013 and its consistent call for reparatory justice from Europe.
Dr. Brown, also known as Queen Asianut Acom II, highlighted the pivotal role that Africa plays in this human rights movement that has gained much traction in the 21st century and she traced the history of the partnership between Africa and her diaspora in the just claim for reparations. This included the pioneering work of the late Chief Moshood Abiola of Nigeria and the late Ambassador Dudley Thompson of Jamaica, their convening of the First Pan African Conference on Reparations in Nigeria in 1993 and the groundbreaking Declaration of Abuja issued by the meeting. She also highlighted the critical role that African traditional leaders should play in fostering a united global Africa and called upon the influential gathering to speak with one voice to advance Africa’s liberation from neo-colonialism and racism. “It is time we speak with one voice to call for complete respect for the human rights of African people. We must stand together and issue a strong call for the observance of a Second International Decade for People of African Descent and it is time that Africa and her diaspora come together with firm resolve to claim our right to reparatory justice,” Dr. Brown concluded