Reparation movement justified, Dingwall

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!

Dear Editor,

We were on the platform of the discussion panel on reparation which Michael Dingwall described in his letter to the editor published on February 17, 2018 as members of the National Council on Reparation. We heard contributions from the audience, especially the high school students, who were eloquent and dynamic in their support for the campaign for reparation.

Dingwall's contribution was received politely, but with audible derision at times. His main argument is one that is widely touted in Jamaica and used to diminish the strength of the case for reparation — that it was Africans who sold Africans into slavery. This argument dishonours the memory of leaders such as Queen Nzinga in Angola, who fought the Portuguese for four decades. It dishonours the efforts of Africans to protect their villages from marauding kidnappers; the resistance of those on the Middle Passage who tried to capture the slavers and return captives to Africa; and the achievements of some leaders who tried to prevent Europeans from buying and selling their people.

In 1725, King Agaja Trudo of Dahomey reportedly sent an emissary to England to express his desire to trade with Europeans who were not slavers. The Kingdom of Dahomey pursued an anti-slaving agenda, burning down trading posts at the slave ports of Allad and Whydah, besieging European forts that held slaves, punishing and executing European slavers, and blocking the overland routes by which people were brought from the interior to be sold in coastal markets.

But, yes, some Africans participated. Scholars and activists have never denied this. Despite the opposition of ordinary Africans and some leaders, many subjects continued to engage in the lucrative trade against their monarch's wishes. Some leaders were bribed and coerced into collaboration with the well-armed invaders. For the Europeans traded thousands of guns to Africa to force compliance in the enterprise.

The question to be asked is: Who built, outfitted, and sent the ships to Africa to carry out this inhuman transportation of human beings in shackles? Who capitalised on the trade? Who developed industries to supply goods to be used to buy Africans? Britain and the other European powers which organised and financed such a criminal venture. Who benefited from the profits earned from the auction sales of human beings when they reached Jamaica? The British traders and their sponsors. Whose economy prospered by the income and investment generated from the treatment of human beings as property, and later from the compensation payments after abolition? The same European powers. It is no answer for the masterminds of a criminal enterprise to say that others collaborated. The reparation paid for the Jewish holocaust was not diminished by the fact that many Jews in the Netherlands and elsewhere facilitated the capture and transportation of Jews.

Dingwall's other argument is that reparation will not happen because the UK and other governments will not pay. That is a defeatist position which is being challenged by people at every level in the Caribbean — leaders, activists, school students, Rastafari, and more — who are mobilising to ensure that this crime against humanity is also apologised for and redressed. The consequences of this crime are felt to this day, both in Jamaica through psychological and other damage, and in Britain through the continuation of anti-black racism. There are people in British politics who know this and will respond. We believe that a just cause will triumph when people stand up for their rights.

Lord Anthony Gifford, QC


Steven Golding

President Universal Negro Improvement Association




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon