Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Apology for Slavery and Reparations: Updated

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
Posted: February 15, 2013
Updated: January 16, 2015

At the outset, it must be stated quite equivocally that the order for the global apology for the European enslavement of Afrikans is as follows: The Roman Catholic Pope of Rome, first; second, the governments of Spain and Portugal; in third place are the governments of Britain, France and the Netherlands; in fourth place is the government of the United States.

Indeed, since 8 January 1455, when Pope Nicholas V authorized the Portuguese "to subject to servitude all infidel peoples", no Pope of the Roman Catholic Church has apologized for the European enslavement of Afrikan people.

In April 2006, the Church of England voted "to apologize to the descendants of victims of the slave trade" and in March 2007, considered paying reparations.

In late April 2006, Jamaica introduced a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of the Caribbean and Afrika with co-sponsorship by most European nations "to acknowledge the legacy of slavery as being at the heart of situations of profound social and economic inequality, hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice which continue to affect people of Afrikan descent today."

On 25 March 2007, bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade, then Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain publicly stated that slavery was "a crime against humanity" and offered "deep sorrow" for British involvement but no apology.

In May 2007, the then Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XV1 condemned "the genocide of the Jews" during the Jewish Holocaust when six to eight million Jews were killed by a European named Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. However, as of this writing, Pope Benedict XV1 has not condemned the genocide of the Afrikans during the Afrikan Holocaust when one hundred to one hundred and fifty million Afrikans were killed by disparate Europeans between 1517 and 1834.

In August 2007, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, apologized for his city's role in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. He acknowledged that London was "tainted" by it.

On 29 July 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives issued "an unprecedented apology to Black Americans for the institution of slavery and the subsequent Jim Crow laws that for years discriminated against Blacks as second-class citizens in American society."

And on 18 June 2009, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution apologizing for "slavery and segregation of Afrikan-Americans."

In the case of reparations, one finds that the European slave traders have received reparations while their employees (slaves) have received no reparations, to date.

Indeed, in the 1825 "agreement", the French government forced Haiti to pay France 90 million francs or US$21.7b in exchange for "liberty". This was, in fact, reparations/compensation "payable to mainly French planters who had lost their property in the revolution" (slave revolt) of 1st January 1804.

And when the British government abolished slavery on 1st August 1834, the Abolition Act provided "a free gift" – not a loan – of 20 million pounds or US$91.2m "to compensate the slave-owners for the loss of their slaves."

Truth Be Told: The total amount of compensation/reparations, that is, unpaid wages, that are owed to Afrikans who worked on European plantations in this slavery/capitalist business have been estimated to be US$770 trillion plus interest.

During this European slavery/capitalist business, Nigeria supplied twenty-four percent of the workers (slaves), Angola supplied twenty-four percent, Ghana sixteen percent, Senegal/Gambia thirteen percent, Guinea eleven percent and Sierra Leone six percent. Ergo, the people of these countries (not the government) deserve their percentage of the US$770 trillion.

In addition, forty percent of the workers (slaves) who were brought violently and involuntarily from Afrika went to the plantations in the Caribbean, forty percent worked on plantations in South America, mainly Brazil, while fifteen percent worked on plantations in the American North and South. Ergo, the descendants of these workers (slaves) also deserve their percentage share of the US$770 trillion.

However, it should be noted that in November 2012, the government of Barbados established a 12-member Reparations Task Force that: "would be responsible for sustaining local, regional and international momentum for reparations". It would also "conceptualize and articulate strategies, frameworks and projects to accept and manage financial and other resources." The Task Force "will also further the research and publication of works that make the case for reparations and self-reparations at individual, community, national, regional and international levels, among other things." In addition, the Task Force will colaborate with the University of the West Indies "to mount a regional reparations conference, which would lead to the formation of a Caribbean Commission and the establishment of a Multi-Ethnic Research Centre, a National Museum on Slavery and a Centre for Reparations Research."

The following Caribbean governments have set up reparations committees, namely, Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.

And in February 2013, the Principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies called on CARICOM governments "to begin efforts aimed at seeking some form of reparations from Western countries for slavery." Sir. Hilary Beckles called for an "informed and sensible conversation" on what has been described as "the worst crime against humanity."

However, the sad geo-political reality is that as a result of the successful European global policy of Divide and Rule, the descendants of these unpaid Afrikan workers (slaves) will never receive compensation/reparations because there are neo-colonial governments in Afrika and the Caribbean who are against the payment of reparations.

Finally, it is to be hoped that newly-elected Pope Francis 1 from Argentina (Third World) — 13 March 2013 —would recognize the compelling and dire need for the Roman Catholic Church per his Papal Bull to apologize for the European enslavement of Afrikan people (the "MAAFA") — an episode that has been aptly/correctly described as "a crime against humanity" and "the greatest single crime in the world committed against a people." Let the historical record also recall that it was the then Pope Nicholas V, who on 8 January 1455 per his Papal Bull titled "Romanus Pontifex", authorized the Portuguese (European) "to subject to servitude all infidel peoples."

During the 34th Regular CARICOM meeting at Chaguaqramas, Trinidad in July 2013, 15 CARICOM states agreed "to seek reparations for slavery and the genocide of native peoples from European countries."

In September 2013, CARICOM governments kicked off a three-day conference in St. Vincent and the Grenadines "to advance an effort by more than a dozen regional nations to seeki slavery reparations from three European countries that benefited from the Atlantic slave trade."

In December 2013, the Caribbean Community Reparations Commission targeted the following European governments to "address the living lagacies of these crimes" of enslavement---Britain, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

At a two-day conference held in St. John's in October 2014, Caribbean nationals were urged "to rally round the cause of reparatory justice." Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Reparations Commission, Sir. Hilary Beckles stated that "we are going to organize with the support of all of these national commissions, a regional rally in which we will move the reparations banner fromk the northern Caribbean through to the centre, to the south, all the way through to Brazil."

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies.

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