It’s not true that the slaves taken to Jamaica all came from Ghana. It is however true that Ghana is a reasonable example of living standards in West Africa where most of those Jamaican slaves came from.
OK. So, Jamaica is arguing that there should be slavery reparations. Because, you know, ancestors were hard done by therefore money must be paid now:
Jamaica will seek billions of pounds in reparations from Britain over its slavery past, with the country, a former British colony, once the centre of the global slave trade.
The Spanish, then the British, forcibly transported Africans to work on plantations of sugar cane, bananas and other crops that created fortunes for many of their owners.
Olivia Grange, minister of sports, youth and culture, told Reuters in an interview at the weekend: “We are hoping for reparatory justice in all forms that one would expect if they are to really ensure that we get justice from injustices to repair the damages that our ancestors experienced.
“Our African ancestors were forcibly removed from their home and suffered unparalleled atrocities in Africa to carry out forced labour to the benefit of the British Empire,” she added. “Redress is well overdue.”
Well, yes, and then again maybe no.
There’s no doubt that being enslaved was a cost. Even leaving aside the loss of liberty part, slaves in sugar plantations were appallingly treated. There was a very real divide between sugar and cotton on this basis.
So, yes, slavery was bad.
Leave aside also all the things we could say about who sold the slaves and so on – Europeans didn’t really go ashore in Africa until the 1870s or so. On the grounds, reasonable enough, that those who did died of fever.
Think instead of the situation now:
GDP isn’t everything, this is true. GDP is, however, a useful guide to economic richness and wealth.
The descendants of the slaves in Jamaica are substantially richer than the descendants of the non-slaves in Ghana. There’s nothing to compensate those alive today for.
Think on it for a moment. The legal position is that if a harm has been done to you then compensation is indeed due. That amount to be sufficient – and no more – to get you back to where you would have been without the harm having been done to you.
So, how much do we have to take off Jamaicans to get them to where they would be if slavery had never happened?