– at opening of summit for African Descendants– Govt injects $68M into hosting conference hereIn observance of the International Decade for People of African Descent, Guyana is currently hosting the 2018 IDPAD Summit, which brings together more than 60 academics, black activists and other expert speakers from around the world to focus on eradicating the plight of African descendants through the implementation of possible solutions to issues affecting the race.The four-day conference, being held at the Guyana Marriott Hotel under the theme “Where we are, Where we ought to be, How we get there”, opened on Thursday.Among the packed agenda of the forum is the issue of getting Britain and other European nations to pay reparations to the region for the brutal Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.According to Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, acting as President, the theme facilitates realistic reflection on the challenges and opportunities that define the realities of African descendants.“Such reflection, I dare say, should take account of the historical and global legacy of wrongs and moral debt that still demands redress. The ubiquitous impact and lasting consequences of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade have been widely acknowledged at a variety of levels, including that of the United Nations. There has not yet, however, been an equal and commensurate effort to fully acknowledged the moral debt, or to make recompense for the indelible scar on humanity that the unmitigated horrors of slavery represent, especially by those that were the prime beneficiaries of the trade,” he posited.Minister Greenidge went on to say that despite insistence that the descendants of African slaves move on rather than dwelling in the past, the call for both reckoning and reparation in monetary and non-monetary forms is one that cannot be ignored, or forsaken, or confused with ultraism.“The call is premised on the principles of justice and ethics. For this reason, CARICOM (Caribbean Community) has committed to the pursuit of this matter, and Guyana strongly enjoins these efforts, including the efforts pertaining to the 10 core principles which are intended to guide efforts at reparation,” the acting Head of State noted.This issue also grabbed the attention of Programme Manager of Culture and Community Development at the CARICOM Secretariat, Hilary Brown, who spoke of efforts at the level of the regional body in its fight for reparation, including the development of the Caribbean Reparatory Justice Programme’s 10-Point Action Plan, which outlines the path to reconciliation, truth and justice for the region’s indigenous and African-descended population.“All of these elements, we believe, constructively address reparatory justice for all people of African Descent, and which must begin with a full formal apology and recognition of the effect of the wrongs committed. It is the view of CARICOM that success in the reparation claim would be a desirable and fitting outcome of the International Decade for People of African Descent,” Brown asserted.The four-day conference will serve as a platform for participants to openly discuss the serious issues facing African Descants, as well as the solutions they envision to address the problems; and ways of implementing these solutions.The IDPAD Summit is being held with the injection of some $68 million from the Government of Guyana, monies that were the subject of incomplete scrutiny during the consideration of the 2018 Budget Estimates.Back in December, Minister of Social Cohesion with responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. George Norton, had failed to give any proper information or details on the organisation, which was listed to receive a cut from the $235+ million that were allocated under the category of ‘Subsidies and Contribution to Local Organisations’ during questioning by Opposition Members of Parliament.The Minister had only explained that the monies would be divided among the sixteen departments within the Culture sector, including Castellani House, National Thrust, Theatre Guild, Linden Museum of Heritage, National Cultural Centre and Decade for the People of African Descent. But when further probed, Dr Norton could not provide any information about the latter organisation that was set to receive $68 million from Government, and had committed to providing the details at a later time.The International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in a Resolution (68/237) adopted back on December 23, 2013. It was subsequently launched by UN two years later, thus commencing the 2015-2024 decade aimed at highlighting issues relating to Africa and its millions of descendants around the world.Guyana had subsequently established a local arm, IDPAD-Guyana (IDPAD-G) Committee, which is the only one of its kind in the region, and has received the support of the Guyana Government.In fact, at the opening of the conference on Thursday, the acting Head of State said President David Granger, who is on State duties in India, has an “abiding interest” in the event.“President Granger has committed to supporting the work of IDPAD, and of the IDPAD-G Committee in achieving the objective of the Decade. The Government has already made good on majority of the agreed commitments, including the approval of resources within the 2018 National Budget for core undertakings identified by the country coordinating mechanism (IDPAD-G),” Greenidge stated.