Britain's Black Debt

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The 2013 publication of Sir Hilary Beckles’ historical economic narrative on Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide re-ignited the Reparations debate in the West Indies. There are clear proponents in the form of politicians, governments and regional bodies: Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines and CARICOM, and detractors as evidenced by a number of articles and letters to the editor appearing in regional newspapers since the launch of this seminal work. The campaign for reparative justice is not new neither is it exclusive to this region; Chief Moshood Abiola, noted Nigerian Pan-Africanist and the first entry in the author’s dedication list, had been at the forefront of this movement and instigated the convening of the 1993 First Pan-African Congress on Reparations. An attempt to advance this movement as envisioned in the 2001 Conference against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) held under the auspices of the United Nations in Durban, South Africa, summarized in the second part of this work, was deflated by hegemonic come imperialistic positions adopted by the former slave trading nations. The lack of progress at this conference is used by the author to re-orient the argument and to shift the locus standi of the platform squarely on the Caribbean and the Caribbean people. This book delivers the case for the Caribbean to pursue reparations from Britain based on the immense wealth generated from, firstly, the systematic decimation of the indigenous populations and the appropriation of their lands, the transatlantic trade in and, most significantly, the exploitation of enslaved Africans, accomplished through their unremunerated labour an... ... middle of paper ... ...n’s people because of the genocide and enslavement perpetrated against their ancestors. This action has manifested in the July 2013 decision of the Heads of Government to request all member states to convene a national reparations committee to report to CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC), which was constituted at the First Regional conference on Reparations held in September 2013, culminating, for now, with the approval, in March 2014, of a 10-point plan for negotiations on reparations with former European colonial powers. All of this achieved within one year of the publication of the text under review here, the author of which is none other than the distinguished chairman of the CRC. A formal complaint to the Europeans nations is expected by the end of April, 2014 and if rejected, plans are afoot to seek legal redress through the International Court of Justice.
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