“The Past is Still Present[i]”: Let’s Talk About Reparation – (Part 2)


Todays podcast is the 2nd part of 3 publications relating to the subject of reparations and whether or not it is relevant or realistic to even contemplate any form of reimbursement for the cruel treatment and atrocities that took place in history, not least because the people alive today were not the perpetrators at that time.  That is just one view, but thankfully, there are many others which include both many individuals benefitted greatly from the slavery trade, but what needs to be recognised is that whole countries and their economies improved too, and therefore we perhaps need to move away from thinking about individuals and start to look at and consider nations which did very well out of the slave trade and those nations have continued to thrive as a direct result of the foundations built on the backs of slaves.


Equally the countries where slaves were removed from, along with the countries where the slaves were placed to work for free, benefited the slave owners and the owners of plantations.  The twisting of the knife was when slavery apparently officially ended, the people and the countries who were awarded financial damages for the loss of their slaves benefitted again on the backs of those slaves, and the countries whose economies were decimated by the slave trade now had the additional burden now placed on them to be charged for the payments to the stated slave owners for their loss of income. Now we had a situation whereby those involved in the slave trade were compensated twice, and the victims of the slave trade were punished twice.  On the same school of thought, as outlined in the podcast last week (part one) whole countries benefitted from the slave trade; industries grew from it, and the at every stage of the supply chain, there were businesses employing local workers and building their businesses (sometime empires) on the back of the slave trade.


On the same token, slaves who were captured initially never had the same prospects, and most did not live to see slavery abolished anyway.  Their descendants ,ever became wealthy now that the slavery trade was no more – officially – and the countries left with depleted resources now had the added burden of being weighed down by huge debts, that were placed on each country concerned, in order to pay damages to the slave owners and business owners who creamed off profits from the free labour of people forced to work for them for no pay in the first place.

Rich countries got richer, and poorer countries never got the chance to be on a level playing field in the game of compensation, and their economies have continue to suffer because of the decades of repayment of the debt to people/countries who used their slaves  for their own gains, and with never a thought about the fact that people were taken to various parts of the world by force.

Elliot Ross asks in his article, “how does understanding the past help us make sense of the present?”

“Despite several hundred years of imperialism and colonialism, the mid century marked a period when many countries in Asia and Africa freed themselves from formal colonial rule.  As a result, it is often thought – in both former colonising nations – that colonialism is a thing of the past.

In reality it remains a powerful force in today’s world. From Kashmir to Palestine, Western Sahara to Crimea and South Ossetia, many parts of the world remain under direct military occupation.  Countries such as Britain and the USA also retain control over colonial territories, and let’s not forget the settler colonial countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, where the colonisation of indigenous lands has been entrenched and institutionalised in the long term.”

Elliot Ross goes on to “talk about his childhood growing up in Malawi in the 90s. Reading through this article and reading how Elliot viewed his life and  recognising his privilege as a white Scottish boy could see that life in Malawi during those years was a kind of informal apartheid.  Entrenched hierarchies of race, class, and gender were unmistakable and entirely normalised.”

“Colonialism as I understand it now, is the structure or structures through which one group of people (typically a nation) subordinates and exploits another, then justifies this subordination and exploitation by claiming to be the intrinsically superior group.  Colonial domination not only shapes our ideas about race, but also strongly influences how people think about class, culture, gender and sexuality.”

“The poison continues to be felt most acutely in the more insidious forms of violence that once colonised peoples still experience today.”

“The legacies of these empires continue to infest many aspects of our world, from borders, migration and unequal citizenship, to prisons, labour conditions, supply lines, healthcare, trade agreements, international development aid, education, diplomacy, tourism, art and sport.”

“In some cases, such as the Windrush scandal, the legacy of the past is all too clear.  Since 2017 The Guardian has been reporting on how the British government erroneously deported 83 people (at the time of writing this article) of Caribbean origin who had settled in the country between 1948 and 1973 and has harassed and detained hundreds more as part of the official policy of creating a “hostile environment” for so called “illegal immigrants.”

“Reports showed that Britain pursued people who had been born as British subjects in countries under colonial rule and who therefore at the time had full British citizenship rights under a law passed in 1948”  Lots more in this article about how people travelled to the UK legally at the time and up until 1973 when the law changed.”

This following paragraph I think is very relevant as to why ‘the past is still present’ and how different groups use that to their advantage, at the suffering of others.

“The roots of autocracy and corrupt government run deep.  Purely cultural, a historical explnations not only risk reproducing racist tropes, they mask the role of powerful international corporate interests in sustaining systems of resource extraction, profiteering and exploitation and rent-seeking that sustain the underlying economic transactions that has always made colonialism financially profitable for colonisers.”

Final quote from this article by Elliot Ross, “We are not responsible for what happened in the past – that does not mean we have no responsibility now.”


NAARC – National African- American Reparations Commission

Britain’s colonial shame: Slave owners given huge payouts after abolition

There are now wealthy families all around the UK still indirectly enjoying the proceeds of slavery where it has been passed on to them.  Dr Nick Draper from the University College of London, who has studied the compensation papers, says that as many as one fifth of wealthy Victorian Britons derived all or part of their fortunes from the slave economy.  One example was of a John Austin, who owned 415 slaves and got compensation of £20,511, a sum worth nearly £17m today, and there were many who received far more.

Dr Draper added that the database that has been put together by UCL may have implications for the reparations debate. Barbados is leading the way in calling for reparations from former colonial powers for the injustices suffered by slaves and their families.

This article is very interesting indeed.  It names names of famous people/families who received considerable sums of money by the UK establishment for the loss of their slave property.  If you wish to look through this report, you will recognise many family names, and what is striking is to see how many of those names exist today in the area of politics.  Many of those slave owners from years ago, built on their wealth from owning slaves, and then added to it by these compensation payments.  Descendants of those slave owners, used the money to expand their businesses, some made improvements to their country houses, some became philanthropists (a very small number) and a large proportion of those business people descendants went into politics.  Some very recognisable names  have been Lord Chancellors and a couple of Prime Ministers appear as well.

Another example of the extent to which slavery links stretch into modern Britain today. So many recognisable names and you can see the threads which run between so many.  That could be a podcast for someone else to run with.  I am doing this topic because of the British Royal Family trying to recreate colonialism under the guise of calling it the Commonwealth, but the approach and the attitude remains the same.  All of the enforced visits to Commonwealth nations this last few months, have not gone well, and each time the BRF force themselves onto these countries, using the same playbook when the Empire existed, and remain surprised in modern times, that the occupants of most of those nations are no longer interested in having a British Monarch as their Head of State.  The fact that the nations are handed the Bill for a visit they never asked for, and are told that they cannot refuse (a few have tried, which is a start, and a couple have been successful) abnd the salt in the wound is that the said country is then forced to foot the bill for a visit by people that did not request or want in the first place.  The countries are struggling economically already so to have to find money to pay for Royals who could afford to pay for every visit they make to places, and not even notice it missing, is a reinforcement of the attitude of the class system that is being in place for hundreds of years.  The tide, however, is turning.

Colonialism Facts and Information

Colonial impacts include, environmental degradation, the spread of disease, economic instability, ethnic rivalries, and human rights violations.  Issues that can long outlast one group’s colonial rule.


Sorrow and Regret are Not Enough. Britain Must Finally Pay Reparations for Slavery

The headline of an article in The Guardian published in March 2022. Details below in the Reference sources.  When Jamaica’s Prime Minister announced to Prince William a couple of months ago, that “Jamaica was moving on” the irony of that phrase was lost on most.  In 2015 when the then UK Prime Minister David Cameron, told Jamaican politicians making the case for reparations to “move on.”  There has been renewed energy since 2021 led by Mia Mottley became the latest Caribbean island to remove the Queen as Head of State, replacing her with a female president.  Mia Mottley stated that the Caribbean had won political independence but was denied any developmental compact. The case was made that only reparations could help tackle the psychological, sociological and economic inequalities that still exist within the Caribbean countries and between them and their former colonisers.  Britain has been remorseful in words but not in any action.

In August 2021 the UK Government response was: “The UK deplores the human suffering caused by slavery and the slave trade.  They are among the most abhorrent chapters in the history of humanity”

Prince William said much the same thing in Jamaica during the unwanted visit.  Extract from Prince William’s speech included “while reparations are not part of the government’s approach, we feel deep sorrow for the transatlantic slave trade, and fully recognise the strong sense of injustice and the legacy of slavery in the most affected parts of the world.  We also believe that we have much to do today and in the future to address the reality of slavery in the UK and around the world.”

“Prince Williams speech in Jamaica was the day before International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery on 25th March.  The day honours more than 12 million men, women and children brutalised under a slavery system that endured for more than 400 years. The large population of people of African descent in the Caribbean remains the legacy of the inhuman enforced migration which broke the ladder of generational wealth of these displaced people.”

“Former British colonies should not be treated like the French have treated Haiti. In fact no nation should be treated the way Haiti was regarding repayment debt with exorbitant interest rates.  In 1791 after the world’s largest slave revolt, Haiti became the first nation to dismantle slavery, however, it was held to political ransom, forced to succumb to France’s reparation demands in order to secure independence in 1804.  The terms were cruel as the infant nation entered into debt with astronomical interest rates imposed by the French.  Haiti paid French slaveholders and their descendants the equivalent today of $30bn, taking 122 years to pay it off and severely damaging the newly independent country’s ability to prosper.”

Caribbean politicians and officials continue to be naïve towards what reparations would mean in Britain.  They fool themselves that they possess leverage if they remain in the Commonwealth.  Maybe a clue lies in recent articles and interviews on reparation issues between Namibia and its German ex colonisers, which reveal exactly how the west views reparations.”

One quote (more in the article) “Reparations become masked as developmental aid, suggesting a handout and a means for the west to appear as saviours”

“Namibia was known as German South West Africa from 1894 to 1915.  Between 1904 and 1908 German colonial forces brutally suppressed anti colonial uprisings by the Herero and Nama people, forcing many into the desert to starve.  They killed tens of thousands, confiscating land and livestock. In 1988 the South African government finally agreed to give up control of Namibia and it was granted independence in 1990.  The German government has acknowledged responsibility for genocide in Namibia but “reparation” is feared as a legal term by German negotiators concerned at setting any expensive precedent.


Summary History of Barbados  

The first indigenous people of Barbados were Amerindians who arrived from Venezuela. Paddling dug out canoes they crossed oceans and currents that challenged modern sailing vessels.  At the north end of Venuezuela a narrow sea channel called the Dragon’s mouth acts as a funnel to the Caribbean sea and the nearest island of Trinidad.  A journey of swift flowing water and cross currents. Dangerous for an open dug out canoe, but that is how they came descendants of the first people who travelled across the Alaska land bridge, down through Canada and the Americas to the South. They made their home in Barbados along the coast.  Fragments of tools made of shell utensils, refuse and burial places convey a mystery of their time, discovered by archeologists much later on.

Amerindians Civilisation

The Arawaks were short olive skinned people who bound their foreheads during infancy to slope it into a point.  It was considered , along with black and white body painting as attractive.  The chiefs and influential members of the  tribe wore nose plugs and/or rings made of copper and gold alloys.  They were agricultural people and grew cotton, cassava and papaya, corn, peanuts, guavas.

1200 Carib Indians

In 1200 the Arawaks were conquered by the Caribs.  The Caribs were taller and stronger Amerindian tribe than the Arawaks.  They were incredibly accurate bowman and used a powerful poison to paralyse their prey.  The culture has almost vanished from Barbados.


The Portuguese came to Barbados en route to Brazil.  It was at this time that Barbados was named Los Barbados.

1625 – 1644 English Colonisation

The first English ship arrived at the island on May 14th 1625 under the command of Captain John Powell.  The island was then claimed on behalf of King James.

On Feb 17th 1627 Captain Henry Powel landed with 80 settlers and 10 slaves to occupy and settle the island.  The colonists established a House of Assembly in 1639 it was the third ever Parliamentary Democracy in the world.  People with good financial backgrounds and social connections with England were allocated land.  Within a few years much of the  land had been deforested to make way for tobacco and cotton plantations.

1644 – 1700 Sugar and Slavery

A potential market formed for slaves and sugar making machinery by the Dutch Merchants.

1807 – 1838 Abolition, Rebellion and Emancipation

After slavery was abolished in 1834 many of the new citizens of Barbados took advantage of the superb education available on the island.  After education they wanted something more than working in the cane fields.

1961 – 1966 Independence

Barbados was first occupied by the British in 1627 and remained a British colony until internal autonomy was granted in 1961.


So much more about Barbados and other journeys and the links to slavery in the Reference sources listed below.  All of these together with a new set of reference sources, will be shown at the end of Part 3 of this series.


How Slavery Helped Build a World Economy

The slavery system in the United States was a national system that touched the very core of its economic and political life.  (source: National Geographic) published in January 2003.

The following is an extract from Jubilee: The Emergence of African-American Culture by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library (National Geographic Books 2003)

“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chanins and slavery?  Forbid it. Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”  Patrick Henry, Speech in the Virginia Convention March 1775.

“African people were captured and transported to the Americas to work.  Most European colonial economies in the Americas from the 16th through the 19th century were dependent on enslaved African labour for their survival.

According to European colonial officials the abundant land they had “discovered” in the Americas was useless without sufficient labour to exploit it. Slavery systems of labor exploitation were preferred but neither European nor Native American sources proved adequate to the task.”

“Having proved themselves competent workers in Europe and on nascent sugar plantations on the Madeira and Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, enslaved Africans became the labor force of choice in the Western Hemisphere – so much so that they became the overwhelming majority of that colonial populations of the Americas.”

“of the 6.5 million immigrants who survived the crossing of the Atlantic and settled in the Western Hemisphere between 1492 and 1776, only 1 million were European.  The remaining 5.5 million were African.

So much more information on how the World benefited from Slavery, which leads into Part 3 of this series, in terms of individual nations arguing/pleading their case to their respective governments or a Global Movement for global requests for reparation, as the world benefited in a variety of ways economically, not just the nations mentioned in this series of podcast owning Plantations and Slaves, but who they traded with, and the industries which developed in the chain leading back to the vessels travelling the seas and the various landing points where plantations were developed etc.

What is Colonialism?

  • Defined as control by one power over a dependent area or people.
  • It occurs when one nation subjugates another, conquering its population and exploiting it, often while forcing its own language and cultural values upon its people.
  • By 1914 a large majority of the world’s nations had been colonised by Europeans at some point.

The concept of colonialism is closely linked to that of imperialism, which is the policy or ethos of using power and influence to control another nation or people that underlies colonialism.

The History of Colonialism

Colonialism was practiced by empires such as Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancietn Egypt and Phoenicia.  These civilisations all extended their borders into surrounding areas from about 1550 BC onwards and established colonies that drew on the physical population resources of the people they conquered in order to increase their own power.

Coercion and forced assimilation often accompanied those gains and scholars still debate colonialism many legacies.  Colonialism impacts include environmental degradation, the spread of disease, economic instability, ethnic rivalries and human rights violations – issues that can long outlast one groups colonial rule.

I look forward to concluding this brief foray into Reparations with the final part of this series of 3 next week. Part 3 will focus on a global approach to reparation discussions, as opposed to individual nations left to fight their own corner.  As I have stated in this podcast, the world as a whole benefited from the slavery trade in a variety of ways, and it makes sense to me (ie my personal view) that requests/demands for reparation is stronger and a global response a fairer way to contribute to the discussions and debates, and a fairer way to arrive at the range of reparation options as part of a package to those requesting.  Cash alone is not the answer.

Later in the year I will do a follow up episode.  Most of the listeners to this channel can identify elements of their history over the course of these 3 episodes.  Reminder that there will be an extensive list of Reference sources at the end of Episode 3, which will include the reference sources from Parts One and Two.

Speak to you all next week.

Ivy Barrow.




[i] The Past is Still Present: Why Colonialism Deserves Better Coverage.  Headline of an article by Elliott Ross from the online publication https://thecorrespondent.com. This online publication ceased publishing articles in January 2022, but all of their previous articles are still available.  The Dutch arm of this news publication, ie De Correspondent will still be writing and publishing articles.  The funding is different and financially healthy and will continue its operations.  I found the article written by Elliott Ross to be interesting, and I will list it in the reference sources.  The articles looks at why the impact of colonialism remains important.  I have used part of the title of that article in my heading for Part 2, as I think it is relevant to the podcast subject area.


Reference Sources


The past is still present: why colonialism deserves better coverage – The Correspondent  by Elliott Ross on 9th October 2019

Everyday Colonialism – The Correspondent

https://api.nationalgeographic.com   What is Colonialism?

https://reparationscomm.org       Article by Webmaster  October 7th 2021

https://ibw21.org   Reparations are a Human Right.  The 21st Century Reparation Paradigm


https://theguardian.com  Article dated 29th March 2022 by Kenneth Mohammed


https://nationalgeographic.com    How slavery helped Build a World Economy.   Published Jan 3rd 2003