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Verene Shepherd | Denis O’Brien bats for reparation

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Verene Shepherd | Denis O’Brien bats for reparation

In this edition of Reparation Conversations, a collaborative initiative between The Gleaner and The University of the West Indies’ Centre for Reparation Research Digicel’s owner and founder, Denis O’Brien, extends his unambiguous support of CARICOM states in their demand for reparation from Britain. This support was proclaimed in a speech he delivered at Cambridge University on October 21.

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I do not know that many billionaires, but I would hazard a guess that very few billionaires, especially those from the Global North, embrace publicly the cause for reparatory justice for which Caribbean people have been fighting for such a long time. That is why I was pleasantly surprised to see such support expressed by Digicel’s founder and owner, in a speech he delivered at Cambridge University on Oct 21, 2021, on Ireland’s role in the developing world. I thank my colleague, Dorbrene O’Marde, in Antigua-Barbuda, for sending me the full text of the speech, which is in the public domain. Before I get to that though, I was also very pleased to learn that Mr O’Brien understands the importance of history education. Among other things, he said:

“I learned about the world from my parents – the world of justice and injustice …. the world of business and politics and … the world of right and wrong. Not surprisingly I suppose, I developed an interest in history to find out what had happened in the past … and why … history is such a very important subject because it gives everyone – children and adults – a context to the world in which we live and an insight into how events moulded thinking … attitudes … actions … AND prejudices.”

He went on to lament that “Unfortunately, history is sometimes taught through a blurred lens. As a result, not only does it skew the reality but also it warps reactions. This happens in every country.” How true!

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