Grenada demands Bank of England pay reparations for its ownership of slave plantations

Grenada is demanding the Bank of England pay reparations for enslaving 600 African people on the island

The following article is republished from The Voice and was written on June 7, 2024 by Sinai Fleary.

TIME IS NOW: The Prime Minister of Grenada, Dickon Mitchell, wants leaders from Britain, France and Spain to discuss reparations for the Caribbean. (Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images)

GRENADA IS demanding the Bank of England pay reparations for its ownership of slave plantations.

According to a report in The Telegraph, the government of Grenada has delivered a letter to Andrew Bailey, the Bank’s governor calling for it to atone for its “enslavement of Africans”.

The Bank owned almost 600 enslaved African people on Grenada in the 18th Century.

A letter received by Bailey and seen by the newspaper states: “The Government of Grenada calls upon the Bank of England to make reparations to Grenada on account of the direct involvement of the Bank of England in the 1780s in the enslavement of Africans and their descendants in Grenada.”

'immeasurable Suffering'

It continues, and states that “the enslavement of Africans in Caribbean colonies including Grenada was atrocious.”

It goes on: “The work regime, punishments inflicted both physically and psychologically, and the immeasurable suffering endured have multiplier effects on our current populations of African descent.”

In March 2023, the Grenada National Reparations Commission (GNRC) told the Caribbean nation’s government that Grenadians both living in the country and in the diaspora should not to forget the horrors of slavery.

Chairman of the GNRC, Arley Gill, told the newspaper: “The Bank of England have done all the research, they have had an exhibition demonstrating to the world their involvement and profiteering from the crime against humanity that is slavery. We urge them to do the proper thing and to have a discussion with us on how they they can repair the harm they caused

“They have financed the slave trade and slavery in many instances, in this case they owned slaves and plantations and were directly involved. They can only do the right thing now by committing to making repairs to the harm which was caused.

“We look forward to the Bank’s substantive response to our proposal.”

According to the National Archives of Grenada, between 1662 and 1807 Britain shipped 3.1 million Africans across the Atlantic Ocean in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. 

The Africans who were forcibly enslaved were brought to British owned colonies in the Caribbean, including Grenada, and sold as slaves to work on plantations, generating millions of pounds for Britain.

‘Hold them accountable’

In March 2023, Grenada’s Prime Minister invited the British Prime Minister to attend discussions with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) about reparations for slavery.

Dickon Mitchell extended the invitation to Rishi Sunak at a reparation forum, which was hosted by the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Grenada National Reparations Committee (GNRC).

Mitchell said talks about reparatory justice, the legacy of British colonialism and slavery across the Caribbean should be “open transparent, frank and dignified”.

At the same event, Gill urged Grenadians in the Caribbean and in the diaspora not to forget the horrors of slavery.

He said: “This is not something that we should put behind us and move on.

“We must join hearts and hands and as a strong, proud and resilient people demand justice! Fight for Fairness! And hold those responsible for the plunder, extraction and exploitation of our nation and for the inhumane treatment of our ancestors, accountable!

“Hold them accountable for the harms they’ve done and for the persistent problems that our people and nation have been subjected to 400 years of illegal and inhumane slavery, centuries of colonialism and 40 plus years of political independence, with limited social, economic and human development!”

Gill has also encouraged other Caribbean nations to “come together” and use the Caricom Reparations Commission to begin their fight for reparations and reparatory justice from European countries for their role in the slave trade.

Grenada gained independence from the UK in 1974 and commemorates its independence annually on 7 February.

A Bank of England spokesperson said: “We have received the letter and confirmed that, while there can be no doubt that the slave trade was an appalling aspect of British history, our position remains in line with that of the UK government, which has no plans to pay reparations.

“The most effective way to respond to the wrongs of the past is to ensure current and future generations learn lessons from history and work together to tackle today’s challenges.”

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