Open letter to Evelyn Welch – Vice Chancellor, University of Bristol (UoB) Regarding the proposed UoB Reparative Futures Programme

Subject: Open letter to Evelyn Welch – Vice Chancellor, University of Bristol (UoB) Regarding the proposed UoB Reparative Futures Programme
From: Afrikan ConneXions Consortium
Date: 20 Feb 2024

8th January 2024

Open letter to Evelyn Welch – Vice Chancellor, University of Bristol (UoB) Regarding the proposed UoB Reparative Futures Programme

Dear Evelyn,

Re: University of Bristol Proposed Reparative Futures Programme

It is with great concern the Afrikan ConneXions Consortium (ACC) and the co-signatories of this letter write in response to the UoB statement released on 28th November 2023 and the further information you provide on your website under the Taking Action page, in particular, your Reparative Futures Programme which you state:

“The Reparative Futures programme combined with the University’s institutional commitment to anti-racism and the work of the University's Anti Racism Working Group forms the basis of our ongoing efforts to dismantle all forms of racism wherever they exist.”

You also explain:
“Reparative Futures is an extensive programme that aims to tackle racial injustice and inequality within the University and in our local Black communities.”

We also write in recognition of one of the stated principles of the Reparative Futures Programme which states:
”Holding us to account.

We will appoint external accountability partners to hold the University to account for its ambition to create transformational change. They will bring their unique perspectives and experiences to challenge the University to do better.”

Whilst, not officially recognised by the University as being an accountability partner, we in ACC assume our own responsibility as adherents of the International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations (ISMAR), survivors and resisters of the Maangamizi (Afrikan Hellacaust) and custodians of the ancestral legacies of our Revered Ancestors to do so!

Whilst recognising that the university is taking steps that others have yet to take, we are compelled to respond to this proposal, outlining our concerns about the process, the content and the basis on which this programme appears to be understood (underpinning knowledge) and created.

Epistemic Challenges

As a global institution of knowledge production and knowledge transmission, it appears that there is a distinct lack of knowledge as to what reparations, or reparatory justice is, and in particular ‘Afrikan Reparatory Justice’ as it relates to the Transatlantic Trafficking of Enslaved Afrikans by the British, its empire and key institutions and instruments of the church and state. This lack of knowledge has left Afrikan Heritage Communities on the margins rather than at the centre of your efforts which in our considered view, appear to replicate models of pre-existing racial justice, equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives and approaches rather than the basic tenets of reparatory justice under the Basic Principles and Guidance on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law.
In particular, we refer to section ix. Reparation for harm suffered, points 19-23:

Restitution should, whenever possible, restore the victim to the original situation before the gross violations of international human rights law or serious violations of international humanitarian law occurred.

Compensation should be provided for any economically accessible damage, as appropriate and proportional to the gravity of the violation.

Rehabilitation should include medical and psychological care as well as legal and social services.

Satisfaction should include, where applicable, for example, measures aimed at the cessation of continuing violations, Verification of the facts and full and public disclosure of the truth
Guarantees of non-repetition should include measures that contribute to prevention.

This we suggest should be one of the core tools that guide proposals that are in the first instance defined and led by the affected communities – more to say about the process later.
The extent to which the UoB has been influenced by Afrikan Heritage Scholar Activists, Campaigners and grassroots voices seemed to be woefully lacking, as evidenced by the absence of key Afrikan Reparatory Justice conceptualisations such as those popularised by the Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide Campaign, the Maangamizi Educational Trust and supported by the International Network of Scholars & Activists for Afrikan Reparations (INOSAAR) who conceptualise reparations in holistic terms as ‘Planet Repairs’; which refers to the nexus between reparatory justice, environmental justice and cognitive justice. Within this, there are a plethora of ethical considerations that have not been taken into account. To what extent did the UoB engage such bodies?

Public discourse about reparatory justice have often been reduced to financial terms with monetary compensation dominating this misleading and ill-informed discourse, but we also find the same with the UoB and other institutions that ‘reparations washing’ (a term recently popularised by Prof Kehinde Andrews) takes place where it is conflated with what is popularly known as ‘equality diversity and inclusion’ (EDI) and stands as a square peg in the round hole of British institutions, corporations and voluntary sector organisations. It takes serious study and deep engagement with scholar-activists of the affected communities to understand that EDI is not the destination for any Afrikan Reparatory Justice programme and a different set of outcomes are required that are informed by the knowledge systems, cultures and reparations ethics of Afrikan Heritage Communities.

It is therefore near impossible to identify measures the university has taken that speak to cessation of violations, including those acts of institutional Afriphobic racism in which the UoB as a knowledge-producing institution is engaged in as well as restitution, rehabilitation, compensation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition; let alone environmental and cognitive justice from the perspective of Afrikan Heritage and other colonised communities. What has in fact happened here is another example of Epistemicide, where the informed voices, that bring an approach informed by our own authentic experience, and knowledge production from those affected and impacted within Afrikan Heritage Communities, have been largely ignored in favour of the institutional usual modus operandi.


ACC and others became involved in your initial efforts to atone that began with name change proposals and the consultation event at Rose Green in September 2023. It is to the credit of UoB that you took on board very quickly that changing the names of some of your buildings was woefully insufficient and performative at best, and that the institution needed to do more. It is in doing more, that we find that Afrikan Heritage Communities were not substantively centred or at the centre of the final decision on what your Reparative Futures programme would entail. Despite the conversations with some members of the Afrikan Heritage Communities (where there is also a need to increase the depth of knowledge about Afrikan Reparations), the final decision did not include us, and so we are left with a raft of proposals (with some already in train) that are barely reparatory, and are in fact more akin to EDI initiatives as previously mentioned.

For any preparatory reparatory process to be impactful, the affected community via those representatives, groups, organisations and individuals who are able to provide Substantive rather than mere descriptive and tokenistic Afrikan Heritage Community Representation, must lead its design and implementation. This requires such to effectively participate in decision-making processes from start to finish. The resolutions of the Atonement and Reparation for Bristol's role in the Transatlantic Traffic in Enslaved Afrikans (TTEA) motion passed by the Full Council in Bristol in March 2021 (Resolution Numbers 5-8), recognise this.

It is therefore unacceptable that you would call a meeting with this ‘reference group’ on the 27th of November 2023, with 6 day’s notice to inform them of a statement you would be releasing on 28th November!

In fact, what we discussed in that group is barely recognisable in the content of your proposed Reparative Futures Programme. The proposals do NOT centre Afrikan Heritage Communities who are the primary ‘victims’ and survivors of the Maangamizi and continue to be most impacted by its still ongoing and unredressed legacies. Indeed, Afrikan Heritage Communities barely get a mention and the actions start with talking about 'tackling racism and injustice across the university’ without even a specific recognition of ‘Afriphobic racism’ or Afriphobia which has been recognised by the European Parliament 1for which there continue to be calls made for European countries to lift the taboo on addressing this specific form of Anti-Black racism.

The point about Afrikan Reparatory Justice is that when institutions make gestures due to its complicity in this Maangamizi crime, it should be about us and with us because anything about us, as Afrikan Heritage Communities, (who must also be substantively represented), that is without us is against us! Moreover, the extent that it is, and tackling racism ‘in the university’ is a very narrow approach to reparatory justice, considering most Afrikan Heritage people in Bristol do not attend UoB and reparatory justice is only in part, about tackling racism.

The University is a global institution that is situated in Bristol. Its complicity in the oppression, subjugation and genocide and ethnocide of Afrikan Heritage People, communities and Nations has a reach far beyond Bristol; and so, the lens of this work should be informed by this historical reality and would have been, should Afrikan Heritage Communities been meaningfully involved and substantively represented in the processes leading to the development of the Reparative Futures programme.


We appreciate that full details of your programme are still being worked up but we alert you to the epistemically violent, weak and ill-informed foundation that your Reparative Futures Programme would be based on unless there is an immediate and radical revision of your proposal. To give a few examples:

As stated earlier, the whole initiative is very woolly and vague and demonstrates a lack of understanding about the right to a remedy and reparation of Afrikan Heritage Communities looks like. For example, funding educational activities; Such as what? Informed and developed with whose knowledge and ways of knowing? Run by whom? To what end? Who said these things are necessary? Why have the recommended INOSAAR Principles of Participation and the points that it makes been ignored? In particular, its principles related to recognition which recognise the knowledges produced by the International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations (ISMAR) in link with the Peoples Reparations International Movement (PRIM) and the fact that “such movements are viewed as generators of concepts, analyses, theories and inquiries.” Accordingly, the UoB should at minimum, take seriously “the ethical responsibility to respect the ontological and epistemological frameworks of knowledge production that emerge from the ISMAR, in link with the PRIM.”

Regarding the scholarship programme - how does this work and isn't a scholarship programme simply a way of keeping some of your £10m fund to fund your own costs??? This is not a reparatory approach! This is giving with one hand and taking it back with the other! And what work has been done with Afrikan Heritage Communities that inform any proposals about educational outcomes? What evidence does the university have that this is something the affected communities have identified, including the areas of study?

Measures such as recruitment and retention: Again this is not specific to Afrikan Heritage Communities and worse still, recruitment into what and to do what? What is the University of Bristol doing to set itself apart from other institutions that continue to perpetuate white supremacist soft institutional power and whose power structure and operational mode remain the same despite these overtures? Is this simply about seeming to descriptively rather than substantively ‘en-darken’ the University rather than structurally transforming the UoB to be an institution of cognitive justice which recognises and works with Afrikan Heritage Community Co-Educators to promote and exchange in knowledge exchange with our own autonomous indigenous Afrikan grassroots academic institutions and educational processes such as the Sankofakuumba Pan-Afrikan Community Glocal Educational Complex?

We see the usual community engagement, co-production and holding to account spiel, yet there is no genuine recognition of the differential power dynamics in that same interface and wanting to address that. We were not in the £10m room (how was this figure arrived at?) and had some of us been with a sufficient body of knowledge on the subject, this letter would not have been necessary. There is no evidence of a willingness for systemic change, leaving the proposal bereft of any meaningful substantive Afrikan representation but more of the same descriptive and statistical representation.

Essentially, this raft of measures in the programme consists of either what is or should be happening within your existing Equality Diversity and Inclusion programmes across all areas of the institution. Those that do have some traction, such as investing in community initiatives, require a greater understanding of what Afrikan Reparatory Justice is in order to inform the criteria which guide the approach to work, the qualifying recipients and address the nature of accountability and power in the relationship as the funder-recipient model requires a reframing as it does not align with a true reparatory justice approach.

Finally, there is a critical educational process taking place within the Reparatory Justice Task Group (RJTG) of the Bristol Legacy Foundation (BLF). As the university is part of the BLF we would suggest that this institution and any others who are serious about supporting Afrikan Heritage Communities to secure reparatory justice on their own self-determined terms is part of the BLF and the RJTG.

You state on your website that:
‘It is important that we listen, learn, and seek to understand to be able to build a programme that really matters. And this goes far beyond what we have already done.

How we do this will depend on our agreed priorities when we get the foundations in place.’

This is an important statement and also begs the question for the UoB and other institutions whose voice is paramount in deciding ‘agreed priorities’ and where there is not agreement, what then?
Whilst we recognise this small step towards efforts of atonement and repair, we must alert you to the potential pitfalls lest we betray our Ancestors. This includes both those currently living with the legacies of Maangamizi harms and those yet to be born who would be destined to suffer as their predecessors have unless we learn and act swiftly in securing guarantees of non-repetition of these continuing harms.

We extend an invitation to you to seek out appropriate guidance from our reparations scholar-activists and those who have actively led high-level campaigns as well as community education and engagement initiatives on Afrikan Reparations where you would also be introduced to allies who are also able to share good practice approaches.

In closing, we must reiterate that when it comes to envisioning and actualising Reparative Futures, there should be ‘nothing about us, without us as Afrikan Heritage Communities, for anything that is about us and without us as people of Afrikan Heritage who continue to resist attempts to deny our existence as a self-determining People and our knowledge, is against us’.

This is a road we must equitably travel together and in doing so, the UoB will need to undergo a systemic transformation if it is serious about atonement and reparation for their role, whether directly or indirectly, in the subjugation of Afrikan human beings through the Transatlantic Trafficking of Enslaved Afrikans and subsequent intergenerational unjust enrichment obtained due to this enduring crime against humanity.

In the spirit of Ma’at (Truth and Justice)

Afrikan ConneXions Consortium
Stop The Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide Campaign Maangamizi Educational Trust
Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe
Global Afrikan People's Parliament
Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee
Glocal Afrikan Reparations Forum of London

International Network of Scholars & Activists for Afrikan Reparations All-Party Parliamentary Group for Afrikan Reparations Link
All-Party Parliamentary Group for Afrikan Reparations
XR Being the Change Affinity Network
The Mayor of Bristol - Marvin Rees
Deputy Mayor and Chair of Bristol Legacy Foundation Cllr Asher Craig

PDF letter with links