Jamaicans protest slave compensation for visit to British royal family

Protesters gather outside the British government office to demand that Britain pay compensation for centuries of slavery, ahead of a visit by Prince William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to Kingston, Jamaica on March 22, 2022. Written on the banner: “Say you I’m sorry. ” REUTERS / Kate Chappell

March 22, 2022

By Kate Chappell and Brian Ellsworth

KINGSTON (Reuters) – Jamaican activists staged a protest rally on Tuesday in protest of slavery, with Prince William and his wife Kate preparing to visit the island nation as part of a trip across the Caribbean that has fueled a renewed worldview of colonialism.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Belize over the weekend to embark on a week-long tour that coincides with Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year reign. They arrive in Jamaica on Tuesday and head to the Bahamas.

The trip comes about four months after Barbados became a republic by removing the queen from the post of head of state. The Jamaican government has initiated proceedings that could lead it to follow the same path – although it could take years.

Dozens of people gathered outside British rule in Kingston, singing traditional Rastafarian songs and holding tables with the phrase “seh yuh sorry” – a local patois phrase urging Britain to apologize.

“I am a descendant of great African ancestors, I thank them for being here,” said Hujae Hutchinson, a 27-year-old customer service representative, at a meeting where activists listed 60 reasons for damages. Jamaica celebrates 60 years of independence in August.

“I want the British Crown to admit that they have committed a major crime against the African people and that they have to apologize and give back what they have taken from their ancestors.

A letter published before the visit, signed by 100 Jamaican politicians, lawyers and artists, said that damages were needed “to start the process of healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and reparation.”

Kate and William are due to take part in “sports” and “cultural activities” on Tuesday as part of the trip, which ends on Thursday, according to a preliminary program that Reuters has seen.

The couple had to change their itinerary in Belize following the protests of several dozen indigenous people in the village who were upset that the couple’s helicopter had been allowed to land on a football field without consultation.

Marlene Malahoo Forte, who was Jamaica’s attorney general until January, told the local Jamaica Observer in December that she had been instructed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to amend the constitution to become a republic.

That process would require a referendum, according to Jamaica’s constitution, which makes it more complicated than in smaller Barbados – which was able to make the change through a law passed by Congress.

Last year, the government announced plans to ask Britain for compensation for forcibly relocating some 600,000 Africans to work on sugarcane and banana plantations that created wealth for British slave owners.

Jamaican lawmaker Mike Henry has offered 7.6 billion pounds ($ 10 billion) in damages.

He says that figure is derived from a £ 20 million payment made by the British government in 1837 to compensate slave owners in the British colonies for freeing people from slavery after the abolition of slavery in 1833.

(Reports by Kate Chappell in Kingston and Brian Ellsworth in Miami; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

Jamaicans protest slave compensation for visit to British royal family

Source link Jamaicans protest slave compensation for visit to British royal family

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