Wealthy Brits 'should be FORCED to pay compensation' to descendants of slavery - 'They can afford it!'

Wealthy Brits 'should be FORCED to pay compensation' to descendants of slavery - 'They can afford it!'

The clash over reparations for slavery took place on Mark Dolan's GB News show

Richard Jeffries

By Richard Jeffries

Published: 30/04/2023

- 11:05

Updated: 01/05/2023

- 10:39

If links can be proven to ancestor slave owners, British people should be forced to pay reparations, claims campaigner

A campaigner has called for wealthy Britons to pay reparations to descendants of the African slave trade.

Femi Nylander said that if a clear link could be established between people's wealth today and their ancestor's connections to slavery, they should pay compensation.

The poet, actor and filmmaker's comments came just days after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak dismissed calls for the UK to apologise and pay reparations for its historic role in the slavery.

Nylander told Mark Dolan on GB News: "Part of the reason people don't want to apologise for slavery is that they don't want to have to pay reparations.

"We have a historical precedent for this in the Treaty of Versaille [in 1919].

"That treaty forced Germany to both apologise for and acknowledge [the damage it had done] in the First World War.

"After that, it was forced to pay a huge amount of reparations.

"So Britain has no historical problem accepting reparations from other states that it believes have done something wrong.

"However, when it comes to paying reparations it becomes a very different story."

He added: "Britain isn't poor. If Britain were to pay the amount it has gained historically from colonialism and slavery it would be an awful lot of money.

"It would lead to Britain having to reel back from some of the excessive living that people at the top of society indulge in.

"Britain has a lot of very, very, wealthy people and lots of them are very, very wealthy because of the slave trade and colonialism.

"It is a country that has benefited hugely from this history. Britain would not bankrupt itself if it were to give some degree of reparatory justice. It would, however, take a lot of money to repair some of these historic wrongs."

He went on: "Whether it's one year or 300 years, it doesn't matter if it's traceable.

"Take Richard Drax [the wealthy Dorset MP, whose ancestors were pioneers of the sugar and slave trades] - if he can still be massively rich off the back of slavery six or seven generations later, why is it then hard to understand that people in the Caribbean are poorer today for the same reason?

"After the abolition of slavery, the slave owners were paid off and the slaves got nothing. Those slave owners are rich today."

Femi Nylander

Campaigner Femi Nylander has given several talks about the impact of Britain's colonialist past


The campaigner even appeared to suggest that Italy could still be liable for reparations for slavery during the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago.

He explained: "Things are traceable. If I could point to someone and say you're a direct descendant of a Roman slave-owning family and point to someone else who is a descendant of one of those slaves and there's a clear reason as to why one one person is wealthy and one person is poor, linked to historical injustice, great!"

His controversial comments led to a furious clash with broadcaster Rafe Heydal-Mankoo, who questioned who Britain would even pay reparations to.

He said: "More than 200 years has passed since the abolition of slavery. We're talking about six or seven generations between slave ancestors and their descendants today.

"In what sense are they actually victims? In what sense are they deserving of reparations?"

He added: "It's an uncomfortable truth that few people actually want to point out, but whether it's in Britain or the Caribbean, the descendants of slaves today have a far better and far higher quality of life than if their ancestors had stayed in Africa. That's an indisputable fact.

Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy

Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy wants Britain to apologise for slavery and pay compensation

House of Commons

"Most former colonies are now middle-income countries. The GDP of the Bahamas is higher than Portugal, which was the greatest of the slave states.

"And former British colonies have a higher quality of life - according to the UN human development index - than Brazil, or Mexico, or many countries in South America.

"So you have to ask, in what way has the British Empire disadvantaged those countries?

"As bad as slavery was for those who were enslaved, had they stayed in Africa, the people today calling for reparations would have far and more dramatically poorer lives."

The row comes after Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy asked the Prime Minister if he would make a "full and meaningful apology" for slavery and "commit to reparatory justice".

The PM said "no", adding "trying to unpick our history is not the right way forward".

He added: "What I think our focus should now be is understanding our history and all its parts, not running away from it, but making sure we have a society that's inclusive and tolerant of people from all backgrounds."

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