British Virgin Islands

Thursday, Nov 26, 2020

'UK owes us apology & compensation for slavery'

'UK owes us apology & compensation for slavery'

Rastafarian and Virgin Islander Kishmet B. Daniel believes the Virgin Islands is quite in order to call for reparations for the evil acts of slavery and thinks if Africans were the enslavers they would have paid reparations.

“They owe us not only an apology, not just compensation,” Daniel told our newsroom recently, remarking that words cannot describe what would be the right payment for all that our ancestors went through in slavery.

Not a cent for VI slave descendants


It was on Monday, September 7, 2020, during an interview with 284 Media, Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert said paying reparations to the Virgin Islands for acts of slavery and the slave trade is not the position of the UK at the moment while calling for relics of slavery to be preserved in the Territory.

His statements, deemed insensitive and even racist by some, infuriated many in the Virgin Islands. Some commentators condemned the remarks and even called for an apology.

Adding insult to injury, Baroness Elizabeth G. Sugg, the United Kingdom (UK) Minister for Overseas Territories and Sustainable Development at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, came to the defence of her fellow UK national, saying that the statements expressed by the outgoing Governor were also the position of the UK.

While the UK has not paid reparation to the descendants and victims of slaves, up until 2015 the UK paid reparations to the owners of slaves after the abolition of slavery.

Premier and Minister of Finance had remarked it is clear the UK government believes a statement is sufficient for slavery and that reparations do not form part of the UK Government’s official policy.

According to Daniel; however, if the shoes were on the other foot and it was our ancestors who had owed the UK “a hefty bill”, it would have been paid off, even if it took generations.

She said the Africans, after slavery was abolished, worked to pay for their freedom and to purchase land. She said that was a demonstration of honesty.


While the United Kingdom has not paid reparation to the descendants and victims of slaves, up until 2015 the UK paid reparations to the owners of slaves after the abolition of slavery.



Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1), left, had revealed in September 2020, that the United Kingdom (UK) has indicated that it backs the position of VI Governor, Augustus J.U. Jaspert regarding paying no reparations to the VI for acts of slavery. Right: Baroness Elizabeth G. Sugg, the United Kingdom (UK) Minister for Overseas Territories and Sustainable Development at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


London University called for £100M slavery reparation


It should be noted that even though the UK Government’s stance is to not pay a dime to descendants of slaves, not everyone in the UK shares that position.

It was in 2018 that universities in London had proposed reparations in different forms.

A university leader had said universities in the UK which benefited in previous centuries from the slave trade should contribute to a £100m fund to support ethnic minority students.

Geoff Thompson, chair of governors of the University of East London, says it would be "ethical and right" for universities to contribute, according to the BBC.

He had said it would help young people who otherwise could not afford to graduate.

Also in September 2018, Glasgow University revealed it had received slave-related funding.

Glasgow University discovered that up to £198m in today's value had been donated in the 19th Century by people who had profited from the slave trade.

In response, it announced a "reparative justice programme", including creating a centre for the study of slavery and a memorial to the enslaved.

'Historic opportunity'


But Mr Thompson had said there should be a collective university fund to support today's black and ethnic minority students through university.

The University of East London was sending Freedom of Information requests to other UK universities to see if their institutions had received money from the slave trade between the 16th and 19th Century - with the findings to be gathered.

In the United States, there have been arguments over how to reconcile universities with historic links to slavery and slave-owning.

Georgetown University has given extra support in its admissions process to the descendants of a group of slaves sold by the university in the 19th Century.

Harvard University put up a plaque in commemoration of slaves who had lived and worked at the university.

The university also ended the use of "master" in academic titles, because of connotations of slavery.

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