This morning I spent three-plus hours in a workshop on intellectual property. I have to thank the Ministry of Financial Services for it, but the information that we received was sobering, frightening, even. The amount of traditional knowledge that is stolen from our region on a daily basis is staggering. And the legal situation is dismal; retroactive applications of legislation is difficult, almost impossible. Attempting to reclaim our knowledge on an individual basis appears futile.
But there is one debt that the developed world, the former imperial world, owed our region that remains unpaid. It is a debt that may be unpayable, but that is none the less real. It is the debt for three hundred years of forced labour on which the developed world developed. And since 2007 disscussions about reparations for the enslavement of our ancestors are tentative.
Perhaps, though, this is where our recourse for present situation lies. Reparations are owed. Our ancestors’ sweat, their toil, their bladderwater, have yet to be paid for. The slaveowners received compensation for the loss of their “property” at emancipation, but the slaves and their ancestors have never been paid for the generations of their labour.
Their labour should be paid for.
Our traditional knowledge should be paid for.
Is there a linkage between the two?
Is it perhaps time we begin to collect everything that you owe me?