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Millions of mostly male Africans youths were captured in Africa and transported to the Americas during the notorious Trans-Atlantic Trade in Captive Africans. This ‘trade’ was abolished only after incessant revolts and the industrial revolution made human slavery unprofitable.
Former President David Granger expressed the view on his weekly programme – the Public Interest – that enslaved Africans never received compensation for their servitude nor did their descendants receive reparations for the crime. He emphasised that the slave ‘Trade’ and with slave labour were the sinews of the emergent ‘Atlantic’ economy, of which the British; Danish; Dutch; French; Portuguese and Spanish maritime Empires and the USA, were the most prominent and prosperous perpetrators. The ‘Trade’ enriched the British royal family – from King Charles II to King William IV – through the exploitation of African labour in West Africa and the West Indies – two regions still languishing in relative poverty.
Mr. Granger stated that Caribbean states are seeking reparations from King Charles III, the successor of the pioneers of the ‘Trade’ as a means of ensuring justice for the descendants of the victims of the ‘Trade’. The international community acknowledged that Africans still suffer from the legacy of underdevelopment and are disadvantaged by discrimination. The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (in 2001) called on the leaders of European states and the United States to apologise for their states’ roles in the ‘Trade’. The United Nations proclaimed 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent, and the International Decade for People of African Descent from 1st January 2015 to 31st December 2024.
The CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government supported the case for reparations for African enslavement and Native genocide in 2013 and agreed to establish national reparation committees and “…to use all reasonable avenues to reach an amicable solution” to this issue. CARICOM and an African Group of states established the Africa Group-CARICOM (AfCAR) in 2021 “to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade” emphasising that “the issue of reparations is pivotal to restorative justice.” The Guyana Reparations Committee (GRC) was established in 2013.
Britain never paid reparations for its role in the ‘Trade’ and the royal family and government officials avoided using the word “apology” for the ‘Trade’. King Charles, in Barbados, called human slavery an “appalling atrocity” and Prince William, in Jamaica, called it “abhorrent”. King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, on the contrary, apologised formally for his Kingdom’s role in the ‘Trade’ and promised to work “on healing, reconciliation and restoration.” The Dutch Prime Minister also apologised for the Dutch role in the ‘Trade’, pledging to provide €200 million for raising awareness, fostering engagement and addressing the present-day effects of slavery, inter alia.
The former President expressed optimism that the CARICOM Reparatory Justice Programme will gain acceptance as a path to progress. Reparations, he said, are essential for establishing a socially-cohesive state which ensures that everyone can enjoy a good life.