'KEEP THE FIRE BURNING' Grange urges Jamaicans to fight for reparations

Jamaica's culture minister, Olivia Grange, used the occasion of Tuesday night's Emancipation vigil in Seville, St Ann, to press her call for reparations. "Tonight is not about having fun, it's about celebrating. Tonight is a night to reflect. This moment is an important moment to think about Jamaica. The journey is not yet completed. We must continue to pursue reparations. Never give up the fight to set things right," the minister said. Grange has been demanding that former colonisers pay Jamaica and other Caribbean countries that they conquered for their economic benefit during the period of slavery. It was revealed in March that the British Treasury was, up to three years ago, paying back a staggering £20 million (present value - £15 billion) loan, used to compensate owners of enslaved people after slavery was abolished. The enslaved Africans were never compensated for slavery even though slavery has been accepted as a crime against humanity. In 2014, the National Commission on Reparations, in a report to parliament, said Jamaica is due at least £2.3 trillion (more than J$416 trillion) in reparations for slavery. Tuesday (July 31) night's Emancipation vigil, which was held for the 21st time, gave persons an opportunity to reflect on the horrors of slavery, and to acknowledge the sacrifice of those who fought to end the wicked system. Escorted by the young civilians garbed in bright, cultural colours--with flickers of candlelight bouncing from their faces, government members, including Prime Minister Andrew Holness, were led around the grounds of Seville Great House. The hundreds who gathered for the vigil simultaneously mourned the tragedy of slavery and celebrated Emancipation 180 years ago. The Port Morant Kumina group provided a fitting soundtrack as the leaders toured a section of the property.