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Last updated: 30 March, 2007 - Published 18:53 GMT
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Slavery reparations: An historian's view
Dr Lennox Honychurch
"Every shade of opinion had its airing." Dr Lennox Honychurch
BBC Caribbean hosted a special edition of its Caribbean InterActive phone-in program on Tuesday March 27th as part of programming marking the 200th anniversary of the British law abolishing the slave trade.

The discussion point was: Has the Caribbean moved on or is the region still shackled to/by slavery?

Dominica-born University of the West Indies historian Dr Lennox Honychurch was one of the guests.

He reflects on the debate.

In what must have been a most challenging technical and logistical undertaking, BBC Caribbean probably did more to make the African and Caribbean Diaspora aware of this historic anniversary than any other single event.

Every shade of opinion had its airing.

The call for reparations was stringent but without much practical suggestions as to how it would be achieved.

Little analysis was done on the effects of abolition on the coast of West Africa where trading had created powerful African elites whose links with colonial powers was to destabilized the region for over a century.

Most callers seemed to forget that slavery sailed on in the ships of other nations for decades afterwards.

The broader issues of slavery itself were widely covered in e-mails, call-ins and interviews.

In all the sound and fury however, few realised that it was also the anniversary of the first actual emancipation of a significant group of slaves.

In 1807 some 10,000 black slave-soldiers in the West India Regiments of the British Army were freed under the Mutiny Act passed by the British parliament that same year.

This too was an important step towards full emancipation of enslaved people in Britain’s colonies in 1838.

Lennox Honychurch

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