Caribbean slave descendants, some of whose ancestors worked for David Cameron’s distant family, are calling for an apology and billions of pounds in reparations. Here are excerpts and a link to the full article below:
From his bungalow on the side of a hill in western Jamaica, Willie Thompson surveys the same lush valley that one of his great-great-grandmothers was forced to harvest for sugar cane more than 180 years ago. “I am an African descendant,” he said, whippet-thin and grizzled at the age of 78. “She came here with the chains on her feet, on a slave trade ship”. Mr Thompson knows that when Parliament voted in 1833 to abolish slavery in Britain’s colonies, Earl Grey’s government was made to pay out compensation worth almost £2 billion in today’s money.
And after an exhausting day spent scratching out a living by farming yams, he wonders what might have been if Nana Bracket and her comrades, rather than the ancestor of David Cameron who owned them, had received £4,101 of it – the equivalent of £415,000 today. “The English made a lot of money back then. A lot of money,” he said, with a sigh almost long enough to reach Dudley, West Mids, where he worked as a labourer in the 1960s before returning home. “I think it is fair for we to get a bit of compensation for what all our people been through.”
A coalition of 14 Caribbean states, including Jamaica, agrees with Mr Thompson, and is now mounting the first united campaign for reparations from Britain over its role in the Atlantic slave trade. Represented by CARICOM, the regional organisation, the group is prepared to sue in the courts. It has hired Leigh Day, the London law firm that last year won £20 million for Kenyans tortured by the British during the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s.
This month it will unveil a list of 10 demands for Britain, France and Holland, including funds likely to total billions, an apology, and assurances slavery will never be repeated, The Telegraph can disclose.
Professor Verene Shepherd, the chairman of Jamaica’s reparations committee, said British colonisers had “disfigured the Caribbean,” and that their descendants must now pay to repair the damage. “If you commit a crime against humanity, you are bound to make amends,” Prof Shepherd told The Telegraph. “The planters were given compensation, but not one cent went to the freed Jamaicans”. [. . .]