The demand for restitution for what Britain, Spain, and America did to Africans and their descendants is loud and proud. In a historic move, Jamaica plans to join the calls by others around the world for the U.K. to pay billions in compensation for the centuries-old slave trade, and does not seem to shy away from calling them out.
“Our African ancestors were forcibly removed from their home and suffered unparalleled atrocities in Africa to carry out forced labor to the benefit of the British Empire,” Olivia Grange, Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture, told Reuters.
“Redress is well overdue,” she insisted.
Grange refused to comment on how much the former British colony and current Caribbean nation is seeking, but more than $10.5 billion was put forth by Jamaican lawmaker Mike Henry, which is roughly equivalent to what Britain paid the slaveholders during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
“I am asking for the same amount of money to be paid to the slaves that was paid to the slave owners,” said Henry. “I am doing this because I have fought against this all my life, against chattel slavery which has dehumanized human life.”
Approved by Jamaica’s National Council on Reparations, the petition will be filed pending advice from the attorney general and three legal teams, then the attorney general will send it to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who remains head of state of the Commonwealth country.
According to the National Library of Jamaica, an estimated 600,000 Africans were shipped to toil the land and Britain did not formally abolish the practice of slavery until 1834. Seized from Spain by the English in 1655, Jamaica was a British colony until it gained its independence in 1962.
Included in the petition is an effort by some Jamaican leaders to sever formal ties with the UK, with opposition lawmaker Mikael Phillips in December presenting a motion to remove the British monarch as head of state.