Discussants at a recent Webinar organized Lamprace, and themed ‘New Philosophy for the Development of Africa,’ achieved a consensus that the peoples and nations of Africa need a reparatory and restitutive closure to the nightmare which slavery and colonialism represented, to assume the stature for straight thinking.
Participation at the Webinar was drawn from Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, and Sierra Leone.
Dr. Graham Hart, anchor discussant from Nigeria, held strongly that no case of institutional reparation ever is comparable in severity or magnitude to the outrageous and cumulative five centuries ((500 years) of the African plunder. The case for reparation to Africa is both moral and legal, and most of all it provides closure for the victims (Africans) and the conscience of the perpetrators (Caucasians), Dr. Hart canvassed.
First was the 400 years of industrial scale slavery which took away and killed millions of Africans, thereby depopulating African states. African labour was forcibly applied, without pay; Africa’s homeland was employed without rent, and Africa’s raw materials were shipped at enslaver’s command.
Second, for about 100 years, Europe and America foisted a colonial regime upon Africans, without the consent of the African people. Nothing has been as heinous as these two instruments of plunder of a people, sustained for such a period of time; not even the Holocaust would compare.
This Restitutive Debt to Africa, the Webinar advanced, could serve as the key fund-funnel for the reclamation of Africa for the benefit of Africans.
Mindful that of the four factors of production: land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship, Africa, to a greater extent, provided all of the land, most of the labor, and a good proportion of the capital derived from minerals and agricultural commodities out of Africa. It was only the entrepreneurship and managerial capacity that Europeans truly own, to the exclusion of Africans.
An “Africa Restitutive Treasury (ART) Fund” could stake a claim on the Gross National Product of the European Union and United States of America, who in 2018 alone generated a combined Gross National Product of some 39.3 trillion US Dollars, in nominal terms
In his work under Prison Fellowship International, Christopher Bright educates that the main purpose of institutionalized restitution was to prevent retaliatory violence for wrongdoing, providing a more “civilized” means of reparation. In its traditional sense, restitution has been defined as “a monetary payment by the offender to the victim for the harm reasonably resulting from the offence.” Restitution can embody both monetary payments and in-kind services to the victim. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, restitution is an “Act of restoring; restoration of anything to its rightful owner; the act of making well or giving equivalent for any loss, damage or injury; and indemnification.”
Global parallels of institutional restitution abound. For more than 100 years, Canada retained a practice of removing indigenous Canadian children from their families and placing them in church-run Indian residential schools (IRS). This process was part of an effort to homogenize Canadian society, and included the prohibition of native language and cultural practices. In 1991, the Canadian government established the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), charged with exploring the relationship between aboriginal peoples, the government, and society.
As a result of the commission’s recommendations, the government symbolically issued an apology in a “Statement of Reconciliation,” admitting that the schools were designed on racist models of assimilation. Pope Benedict XVI also issued an apology on behalf of church members who were involved in the practice. In addition, the government provided a $350 million fund to help those affected by the schools. In 2006, the federal government signed the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, agreeing to provide reparations to the survivors of this program. The Settlement totals approximately $2 billion, and includes financial compensation, a truth commission, and support services.
In 1952, Germany paid $822 million to Holocaust survivors: German Jewish Settlement – (“West Germany Signs 822 Million Dollar Reparations Pact with Israel Govt. and Jewish Material Claims,” JTA Daily News Bulletin, September 11, 1952.)
In 2015, Japan committed $8.3 million to provide old-age care to Korean “Comfort Women” survivors plus a new apology. (“Japan and South Korea Settle Dispute Over Wartime ‘Comfort Women’” by Choe Sang-hung, The New York Times, December 28, 2015.)
Under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill providing $1.2 billion ($20,000 a person) and an apology to each of the approximately 60,000 living Japanese-Americans who had been interned during World War II. Additionally, $12,000 and an apology were given to 450 Unangans (Aleuts) for internment during WWII, and a $6.4 million trust fund was created for their communities. (“U.S. pays restitution; apologizes to Unangan (Aleut) for WWII Internment,” National Library of Medicine.)