Jamaica is about to hit Britain with a request for reparation over its role in the transatlantic slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries.
At least 600,000 Africans were shipped to the Caribbean first by Spain and then Britain. The former British colony will submit a petition to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. The island has been independent since 1962.
“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, Jamaica’s minister of sports, youth and culture, told Reuters.
“We are hoping for reparatory justice in all forms that one would expect if they are to really ensure that we get justice from injustices to repair the damages that our ancestors experienced.”
Thousands of British families grew wealthy off the back of the slave trade or from the sale of slave-produced sugar in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The publication reports that the petition is connected to a motion filed by Jamaican lawmaker Mike Henry, a member of Jamaica’s Labour Party, seeking more than $10 billion.
The amount reflects the amount enslavers received in compensation after Britain abolished slavery when 800,000 enslaved Black people were freed in 1834. The ancestors of authors George Orwell and Graham Greene benefitted at the time from the payouts. The ancestors of former Prime Minister David Cameron also profited.
In 2015, Cameron called for Jamaica and the UK to “move on” after facing calls for Britain to apologize for its role or pay reparations. He said the two countries to “move on from this painful legacy and continue to build for the future.”
Jamaica is determined to be made whole.