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Reparations day: The Brixton shutdown

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

Last week Saturday (August 1st), thousands of demonstrators gathered in Brixton to mark the Afrikan Emancipation day. This event has been going since 2014, with people walking from Windrush square in Brixton to Parliament square, but due to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, the organisers decided to bring the South London district to a standstill instead, which was approved by Lambeth Council.

This day is commemorated across the former British colonies of the Caribbean to mark the date August 1st 1833, when the emancipation act was passed by the British parliament to “free” all slaves in their colonies. The day is also known as reparations day, organised by Stop The Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide and the Afrikan Emancipation Day reparations march committee; with allied support from Forever Family, the Rhodes Must Fall Oxford campaigners and Extinction Rebellion.

Up until 2015, our taxes were still being used to pay the 46,000 slave owners to compensate them for their “loss of human property”, 182 years after the abolition act was passed. The compensation bill was £20million at the time, which is the equivalent of around £17 billion today; not even to mention the industries that emerged from the back of this.

This was not a Black Lives matter protest, just to clear up the misconception. Yes, the concept of Black Lives Matter was and still is a present sentiment throughout, but this was organised by grassroots organisations that we know and can reach out to, rather than the faceless BLMUK organisation, which I’ve spoken on in a previous article.

Esther Stanford-Xosei, a reparations expert and head of the Stop The Maanagamizi campaign, is advocating for a holistic and all-inclusive reparations package. This includes an All-Party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into these crimes against humanity. ‘Maanagamizi’ is a Swahili term for ‘genocide’. She asserts that the reparations discussion should include all Black Brits, not just those of Afro-Caribbean descent but also of direct African descent, because “chattel slavery morphed into colonisation”, as 26 out of 54 countries in Africa were colonialised by Britain, with exploitation of the continent continuing to this day. The racism experienced today was birthed from this.

Esther Stanford-Xosei (middle)

The day started with a march from Clapham Common to Brixton’s Windrush Square, led by Forever Family (FF), a community-based organisation that have taken the nation by storm this week. The group is lead and headed by Raspect (@raspectrebellion), a well-known London activist and community organiser.

Raspect is most recently well-known for leading the charge to protect the women, children and the vulnerable that would still be attending a “cancelled” BLM march in central London on 13th June 2020, when Tommy Robinson made a call on Instagram for all football firms and the far-right to come to London on that day to protect statues that were “already boarded up”. Not much was said from the Home secretary, regarding this incitement of a “potential race war”, but I digress.

Dubbed ‘The Battle of Trafalgar’ (not the one against Napoleon), although Tommy decided not to show, his supporters did, but they all got sent home packing, and the rest is history. In the words of Bob Marley, the crazy baldheads were ‘chased out of town’.

The likes of Farage and Hopkins still having a platform, in comparison to the way that Wiley was swiftly de-platformed has caused much debate.

FF was formed following this battle and its aim is to combat institutional racism, protect the people and create tangible economic solutions to empower the community. The group of both men and women displayed military organisation and prowess, which would draw comparisons that of the Black Panthers Party or the Nation of Islam. They were respectful to everyone in attendance and ensured everybody’s safety. It’s not an armed militia as the mainstream media have tried to insinuate, but they are rather driven by their love for the community and each other. Everyone in the group is trained in the basics of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, amongst other martial arts that individuals in the group are disciplined in.

Forever Family and the demonstrators

Another person who was instrumental in putting this together as a registered company is Megaman (@officialsosolid), founder and leader of the pioneering South London Garage collective, So solid crew. Applying his leadership skills to another cause, throughout the day, he could be seen galvanising groups and co-ordinating the line up of bikers (@original_slowboys) that revved up the streets of the A23 from Clapham Park road down to Acre lane. Following them was us, the demonstrators and supporters of the cause. There was also a row of percussion players, who could be heard playing a rendition of “21 seconds”.

Raspect and Megaman

This day also coincided with the second ‘Black Pound Day’, an initiative to encourage all people to spend money with Black owned businesses, as a long-term solution to providing a financial boost to the black community and economic activism against systemic oppression. This idea was launched by another So Solid crew member, Swiss (@swissworld_).

Official black pound day logo

The procession drew in massive crowds and onlookers of all nationalities and races. Cars had to do U-turns and the area was given an environmental breather for the day. Windrush square was the final stop, where there were different speeches and a three-minute silence was observed to commemorate the event. There were floats around the area playing reggae music, food stalls, clothes and information stalls. It was a great set-up for connecting with people and also attaining ‘internal’ reparations.

Me and the Express Truth show fam

On the back of the Black Lives Matter protests, this is the most press that the emancipation march has ever received. From that perspective, it’s good as this momentum can be leveraged towards a grassroots cause that is organised by people from our own community and has a clear objective. Being from South London and of African-Caribbean descent, it was a great sight to see. For people that want real systematic change, this needs to take national precedence before any real equality proposals can come into place. August 1st, remember the date.

By Benji Pitter-Fagan

For Express Truth

insta: @expresstruthshow

insta: @benjipf

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