Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has called on Britain's Prince William to do more than just offer words of acknowledgement that his country had played a significant role in the slave trade and ensure a level of compensation to those who had their liberties taken away as a result of the Atlantic slave trade.
Rowley, addressing the Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day organised by the ruling People's National Movement (PNM) on Monday night, said he was pleased to have heard Prince William
acknowledge that slavery was wrong during his visit to the Caribbean last week.
"Recently I was very pleased to hear Prince William
say that he acknowledged that slavery was wrong and that the British government, the British people, have some responsibility in that piece of unforgettable history,
"I was pleased to hear a member of the Royal household in the United Kingdom. But tonight I want to say to Prince William
, having said that, I believe you. But I will believe you more if you do what you must now do, which is the offer of some reparation to the people who were wronged in the way that you have acknowledged.
Rowley said it is not "sufficient to say that I acknowledge this, but not to seek to help those who were harmed by it.
"In the bible and in your teaching it says that there are two conditions and they go side by side. One is repentance and the other, if you want to be redeemed, you have to repent, then salvation could be yours," Rowley said.
, who was accompanied by his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, to the region in celebration of Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee, said in Jamaica last Thursday that he strongly agrees with his father, the Prince of Wales, "who said in Barbados last year that the appalling atrocity of slavery forever stains our history. I want to express my profound sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent. And it should never have happened".
During their visit to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, the Royal couple were exposed to calls for reparations. Their week-long tour of the Caribbean ended on Saturday. The visit had mixed reviews, with some calling it a failure and others a success.
In his address, Prime Minister Rowley said members of the Spiritual Shouter Baptist faith, which is indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago and is a unique religion, comprising elements of Protestant Christianity and African doctrines and rituals, should have been compensated for the years they suffered in practising their religion.
Spiritual/Shouter Baptist Liberation Day, which is observed on March 30, is an annual public holiday and commemorates the repeal on 30 March 1951 of the 1917 Shouter Prohibition Ordinance that prohibited the activities of the Shouter or Spiritual Baptist faith...
"This country of yours acknowledged that there ought to have been some recompense and the government that I led continued to add to the progress that you are making".
He told the ceremony that religion must play a significant role in Trinidad and Tobago society and that the teachings of the bible will save the population.
"I ask you the Spiritual Baptist to lead this country away from the direction that we are going. So you move from hiding to being a Spiritual Baptist to being asked by the country to lead us.....
"I know that you the Spiritual Baptist will think differently of your country and you will guide us to a future that some think that we do not have.," Rowley said, adding that "one does not have to be a zealot, or overbearing in religion, but I dare say, if this country is to pull itself up from the brink that we are heading to....religion has a major role to play.
"I have seen no substitute for raising children and inculcating into them that there is good and there is evil. I have seen no substitute for respect for your elders, I have seen no substitute for caring for your brothers and sisters, I have seen no substitute for acknowledging a supreme being that is bigger than you and is expecting you to account someday," Rowley said.
He said one of the problems in Trinidad and Tobago today is that a generation is not being properly brought up with a total absence of a value system and then we want to find out why they could kill so callously, why they could behave so uncaringly.
"If you know a substitute that is better than the religious teachings that we have all benefitted from...then bring it forward."