Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|November 29, 2022|3 Minutes|In Editor's Desk

Editor’s Desk

Billionaires beware the slavery bill is in the post.

A tiny chink of light in the gloomy and complex problem of how the world can ease the bitter aftermath and suffering of slavery.

It was an evil trade based on kidnapping, torture, rape, and violence that wrecked the lives of millions of Africans and made filthy fortunes for many Europeans.

Sailing ships landed along the coast of West Africa kidnapping people for a life of miserable servitude in the Caribbean and United States. How it took the United Nations so many years to declare it a crime against humanity is a disgrace.

The family of British MP Richard Drax pioneered the plantations of  Barbados during the 17th century in the Caribbean and owned at least two slave ships where Africans were chained cheek-by-jowl in the hold on a hell ride across the stormy Atlantic that took months.

Now the government of Barbados – which rejected the Queen to declare itself a republic a year ago – is preparing to take legal action against the Drax family for reparations, according to the Guardian in London.

Among the plans considered by  Barbados is the conversion of the 17th century Drax Hall on the island into an Afro-centric museum along with social housing for Bajans on low salaries. The Drax family will be expected to pick up the bill.

This is the first time a  family has been singled out for a reparations claim. Barbados says other rich families – including the British royal family – are being considered.

Certainly, families who have benefited from generation after generation of inherited wealth can afford it. The Drax clan is worth £150 million – much of it made on the backs of the slaves who harvested their plantation’s sugar.

Surely, millionaire families like this can afford to put millions into slavery reparations without even feeling the loss.

On top of that, the Drax family was compensated with millions, in today’s money, when the British Empire abolished slavery, in 1833, forcing them to free 189 slaves. The family therefore can’t say it is against compensation.

I have also often wondered about the wisdom of using taxpayers’ money to make slavery reparations – these days, millions of taxpayers, in the rich nations of Europe, are descendants of slaves. How can they be expected to compensate people who suffered like their ancestors?

No, going after rich families is the way. Those billionaires who profited from slave labor centuries ago should be sought out in Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal – wherever they are.

They should put a fraction of their fortunes into making the world a better, fairer, place.