Maangamizi and The Case For Pan-African Reparations

Maangamizi and The Case For Pan-African Reparations

“I wrote a song called Maangamizi on the Thieves Banquet which some of you may know, some of you may not know. Maangamzi is a Swahili term and it translates roughly to the same sort of concept or idea as the word Holocaust. As a racist, genocidal campaign of brutality towards a particular group of people. 

And in the Pan-African world in the Pan African tradition the term Maangamizi refers to the entire process of colonialism, enslavement, and neo-colonialism. The development of racist, anti-African, anti-black ideas and their direct physical, political manifestations. So that’s what maangamizi means, that’s what it sums up. If you listen to my song, I think you’ll get a sense of the meaning and the ideology behind it.

I must say it was inspired by, I didn’t come out of a vacuum, it was inspired by; I went on a course with a lawyer called Esther Stamford Hose, who’s a lawyer and activist, who is a reparations lawyer so someone who looks at reparatory justice. And I went on a course around the idea of reparations and the case for reparations from a legal standpoint.

And I learnt a whole load of stuff, I had really no idea about, on that course, and saw how solid actually the legal case for reparations is in a Pan-African context. Which is one of the reasons the British states and other states would avoid directly apologising for Britain’s role in Trans-Atlantic slavery, in neo-colonialism, in coups and etc.

A direct apology from a head of state or from someone in a position of power would open, in a legal sense from what I understand, would open up the conversation for reparations even more which is why the language is always picked very carefully. People can express regret but they can’t apologise and that’s some what I learnt on this course which was really fascinating to me.

I learnt about the amount of minerals that have been dug out of the African continent over the past 500 years. I learnt about even more mechanics around the way aid works and the kind of corruption behind that. I learnt a little bit more about payments of odious debt, if you like, the way that odious debt is still used as a weapon of war and Neo-colonialism against those States etc etc etc. It was a fantastic course, I learnt so much.

I learnt particularly about this idea of and struggle for Pan-African reparations and how it connects to other forms of reparatory justice around the world. Of course, when you hear about Pan African reparations the mainstream media and a lot of our society, would just be like ‘crazy black people campaigning for something that ended 100 of years ago, why are they always whinging? You know how people are, very, very stupid. 

When you look at the direct manifestations and the direct lineage. So if we look in the American context, the direct lineage between the ending of slavery and then chain gangs and convict leasing and of course private prisons today, you can literally draw that straight line and see very clearly the legacy of that in America. 

If we take Brazil, the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery in 1888, and the policies are outlined in Do Nascimento’s book Brazil Mixture or Massacre. From 1888 onwards the Brazilian government had a policy that at the time they called ‘getting rid of the black stain’. I mean it was an open policy of trying to get rid of that population of enslaved Africans that Brazil had become very scared of.

We can see a direct lineage between the ending of slavery in Brazil in 1888 and the situation for Afro-Brazilians today in 2012. Police brutality, the fact that the overwhelming majority of that population, who are actually the majority of the population of Brazil, live in favelas, etc, etc, etc. That lineage is very clear.

If we move to say Haiti, the first country in the world as we’ve discussed many times before, to properly abolish slavery after defeating the French, the British and the Spanish. Haiti was invaded by America in 1915, a debt was placed on Haiti in 1825 by the French, under threat of reinvasion, to pay France reparations for Haitians gaining their own freedom. For robbing France of their property. 

That money was still being paid off post World War 2 so we’re not talking about ancient history. To say nothing of the coups that have existed in Haiti, foreign-backed coups,  as recently as 2004. So we can clearly see the legacy and current activity of racist neo-colonialism in a Pan-African context.

To think that these are ancient issues, especially with police brutality being so much in the news recently, is really quite ridiculous. People will have you believe that these are ancient issues and it’s just crazy black people being mad.

Even if we look at it from the perspective of workers’ rights, to use a more well-understood analysis, the worst form of worker exploitation of the past half a millennia, without question, in my mind at least, was the trans-Atlantic trafficking of enslaved Africans. The legacies of that in all of the places both where Africans were taken from and where they landed are still very, very clear in the living standards of people and the opportunities available etc, etc, etc.

Even from a perspective of workers’ rights, a victory for Pan-African reparations is a victory for workers’ rights anywhere in the world, and a victory for the redistribution of what in my view, is ill-gotten wealth by a lot of the political and business elite of the world that we live in today. A lot of powerful and rich corporations and people.  

In a  British context, the slave owners, not the enslaved people, the slave owners were given 20 million pounds of reparations. Reparations at the end of slavery. Which is equivalent to roughly 16 billion today we’re told and of course, they invested that in various industrial projects in the UK etc and it’s fascinating to the British public because that was your money they were given. Think about it.

The owners and traffickers of human beings were given public money at a time when living standards for poor people in Britain were horrific. Nonetheless, they were given public money for the loss of their property over in the Caribbean and their property of course was my grandmother’s great-grandmother and other people of African heritage.  

It’s fascinating because that was the largest public bailout until the bankers’ bail-out of 2008. These things have very relevant, contemporary manifestations but the mainstream media and our universities and the general obscurification if that’s the correct word. I don’t think I’ve pronounced that word correctly but the general making things hazy and making things unclear. Avoiding facts and avoiding any real discussion around these subjects is one of the ways that people avoid what is a very clear context.

To give yourself some context you can read Capitalism and Slavery by Eric Williams, you can read How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney, you can read The West and The Rest of Us by Professor Chinweizu, you can read Dead Aid by Dambiso Moyo, you can read so many books that look at manifestations of neo-colonialism and give you a historical context and a legal context. Visit

Pan-African reparations are part of an international campaign for reparatory justice in the world. I would suggest people do a little more research and understand the principles and history of reparatory justice before they pass judgment and make a conclusion. Gather more information and understand that reparations, reparatory justice, is one of the key components in my view of a march towards any form of global justice in the 21st century.”

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