by Cato Rand
Read Part 1: here
In the trans-Atlantic slave trade, white Europeans went to a place where slavery existed and bought humans to work on plantations in the New World. These white slave traders went to West Africa and bought blacks from African slave traders. Now tell me, weren’t these Africans paid for the slaves they captured?
The white slave traders in order to maximize their profits would travel Africa with only a skeleton crew; and as they were also vulnerable to tropical diseases would not be venturing into the jungle to capture black people. Quite the contrary they would anchor their slave ships close to the west African coast (perhaps somewhere close to the Kingdom of Dahomey, modern day Benin) and wait on Africans to bring their fellow captured Africans to be sold onto them and then to be stored as cargo on their ships. Slaves were a commodity.
Prof. Verene Shepherd in her book relates an incident where a group of white slave traders not wanting to pay heir usual middle man mark up price decided to do some capturing themselves. As the story goes the Africans sellers destroyed the ship sending the message that in the future the middle man must not be exclude.
Just imagine selling your fellow man to be placed on a ship that will disappear over the horizon, not knowing where they are going. Not knowing what conditions they would be living in. I do not advocate violence, as a libertarian I do not advocate the initiation of force, however, suppose those Africans had decided to maul those white men who came to purchase their fellow man. I suspect they would get the message and head elsewhere for the manpower, to work their plantations.
We the descendants of slaves now living in the Caribbean have benefited greatly for the harrowing experiences of our ancestors who survived the Middle Passage. By any parameter that we use: per capita income, infant and maternal mortality rates, literacy rate, life expectancy, etc.
The average Caribbean citizen enjoys a life that is so much better than the average person now living in the region of Africa where the majority of slaves emanated from. I think this applies to even persons living in the poorest of these Caribbean countries- including Jamaica, Guyana and even Haiti.
I will not even mention female circumcision that so many of our sisters would be subjected to if we still lived in Africa. I dare not speak for others, but let me say that for women being able to escape a Type 2 female circumcision, for me, is worth slavery.
I mentioned to fellow blogger Kavon Fiennes before; just imagine how our ancestors are turning in their graves at how we have so misgoverned our counties that we are not even further ahead than we are now. Somehow Ralph Gonsalves and his company of cronies of CARICOM leaders believe that getting reparations from England will do the trick.
Shouldn’t we have so managed our affairs that the white man would be saying: “I am so sorry I took these people from Africa”.
Now the basis for the reparations must be that the slave owners were paid and not the slaves. But the freedom of modern day slave descendants is not enough for those seeking reparations.
What are the real prospects that these Caribbean leaders and their lawyers can present arguments to convince the court to force England to pay? I don’t think that they have a solid case as I have tried outlining in Part 1 of this article. But we could have enough liberal – minded judges in the court that a judgement may well be delivered in favor of the reparation seekers.
If they do so, it will be interesting to see how the compensation will be calculated. I think assume the Caribbean leaders will be using as a basis the monies paid to slave owners by the British government when slavery was abolished. Then to extrapolate that into today’s money and these Caribbean leaders are seeing dollar signs in their eyes as they are looking to a windfall, which they will then attempt to use to provide the economic independence which they have been unable to deliver.
It does not seem as possible in the foreseeable future. A Gonsalves now age 67, wants to make sure that he leaves a legacy before he is no longer with us.
The truth is that these regional leaders, most of whom had been wedded to a worldview of statism, big government and socialism, have not been able to deliver to their constituents the utopia that they were sure they could do when they began their political careers. The Gonsalveses and Mike Henrys of the region are now realizing that their hour glass is rapidly running out of sand and they need to do something quickly. For them reparations can be that game changer they desperately need – and soon.
Cato Rand is a Black Jamaican of Libertarian and Conservative persuasion. He is a fervent believer in Capitalism, Freedom and the principles outlined by the US Constitution and it being applicable to all peoples, including Jamaicans. He is a strong advocate for the limited role that a government should play in the lives of people.