Thursday, April 18, 2024

UK family will apologise to Grenada for role in slavery

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A UK family will publicly apologise to the people of the Caribbean island of Grenada, where its ancestors had more than 1 000 slaves in the 19th Century.

The aristocratic Trevelyan family, who owned six sugar plantations in Grenada, will also pay reparations.

BBC reporter Laura Trevelyan, a family member, visited Grenada in 2022.

She was shocked that her ancestors had been compensated by the UK government when slavery was abolished in 1833 – but freed African slaves got nothing.

Speaking to the BBC in a personal capacity on Saturday, Trevelyan recalled her visit to the island for a documentary.

“It was really horrific… I saw for myself the plantations where slaves were punished, when I saw the instruments of torture that were used to restrain them.”

“I felt ashamed, and I also felt that it was my duty. You can’’t repair the past – but you can acknowledge the pain.”

Trevelyan said seven members of her family would travel to Grenada later in February to issue a public apology.

The family will give £100 000 ($120 000) to establish a community fund for economic development on the impoverished island and in the eastern Caribbean.

Trevelyan said that in 1834, the Trevelyans received about £34 000 for the loss of their “property” on Grenada – the equivalent of about £3m in today’s money.

“For me to be giving £100 000 almost 200 years later… maybe that seems like really inadequate,” she said.

“But I hope that we’re setting an example by apologising for what our ancestors did.”

The Grenada National Reparations Commission described the gesture as commendable.

Trevelyan, currently a BBC correspondent in New York, said she had wanted to go to Grenada in the wake of the racial reckoning in the US.

A series of killings of African Americans in recent years led to the rise of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the US, which spread to other countries.

The BLM’s stated key aims are the fight against racially motivated violence – including incidents of police brutality – against black people and other minorities.

The movement also boosted public pressure in several countries for compensation to address the historic injustice of slavery. (BBC)

Laura Trevelyan (left) explores a former slave plantation on Grenada during her visit in 2022. (BBC)

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