STOP MAANGAMIZI: A campaign for reparatory justice
£17,000,000,000. The modern-day equivalent to £20,000,000 in 1833, which was borrowed from the British national budget for the Slavery Abolition Act. However, this money was paid out to former slave owners as compensation for their loss of human property: African and African descendant people, who were taken from their homeland to England throughout the 17th, 18th and beginning of the 19th Century. Up until 2015, British tax-paying citizens have been unknowingly helping to pay off this huge sum of money. This bitter truth poses many questions as well as realities: Firstly, individuals who upheld the commodification toward African people (to put it nicely), were granted finance for their atrocities. Secondly, generations of African and Caribbean people who are now British citizens, have been made to pay the very slave owners that brutalised their ancestors.
The tweet and picture below was initially posted onto the HM Treasury’s Twitter account but has since been deleted, due to the backlash it received.
The image clearly displays the violence Africans were subjugated to, while the casual delivery of mentioning such monumental history in a single tweet, diminishes the severity and continual impact slavery has upon African and Caribbean communities.
And so the burning question stands: Where are the reparations for African and Caribbean people in the United Kingdom?
August 1st 1833, is the date that the Act for the Abolition of Slavery was officially passed in British colonies, and picked up the following year. Also referred to as 'Emancipation Day', August 1st also marks the annual Reparations March in Windrush Square, Brixton. Currently, in its 6th year, the march begins in Brixton, South London and travels to Westminster where the Houses of Parliament are located.
Working in conjunction with ISMAR (International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations) is a campaign and petition entitled, ‘STOP THE MAANGAMIZI*: WE CHARGE GENOCIDE/ECOCIDE’, formed by a collective of Pan-Afrikan centred organisations, taking the injustice to Parliament, in order to form an All-Party Parliamentary Commission For Truth & Reparatory Justice. By the time you are reading this, the petition has received almost 4,000 out of its 5,000 signatures goal and is increasing rapidly every day.
As much as the march is about standing up for our rights, it also symbolises the great importance of honouring our ancestors and remaining firmly connected to our African heritage, not just through using our voice, but also through colour and clothing.
For example, the recurring Pan-African flags, designed by the late Marcus Mosiah Garvey, embody the colours red, black and green, symbolising the blood which unifies us as Africans, ties us to our ancestors and represents the bloodshed for liberation. The black represents Africans, while the green symbolises the natural wealth Africa has.
Ethiopian and Rastafarian flags are also prominent throughout the crowd in the pictures above, which re-affirm sentiments of pride and respect for the ancestors, as well as revolutionary movements shared between African and Caribbean communities. Clothing too plays a large part in communicating our morals and philosophies. Elders and adults within the community can also be seen wearing white, a colour synonymous with light and deflecting negative energy.
While the March only happens yearly, it is purely a reflection of the year-round work organisations and the wider community do, to ensure the rights and lives of African and Caribbean people in the UK are being met with dignity and respect.
*MAANGAMIZI, derives from the Swahili verb kuangamizi meaning to destroy, destruction.
Written by Charlie Reynolds-Thompson