by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Caribbean country of Barbados is considering demanding reparations from the descendants of former plantation owners, including star actor Benedict Cumberbatch and his family.
Cumberbatch’s seventh great grandfather purchased a plantation in Barbados in 1728 that held roughly 250 slaves until the practice was abolished a century later. Following the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833, the Cumberbatch family was compensated with a sum now estimated to be £1 million, or roughly $1.2 million.
The general secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration, David Denny, told the Telegraph Friday that the Hollywood star’s family would not be immune from forthcoming reparation investigations.
“Any descendants of white plantation owners who have benefitted from the slave trade should be asked to pay reparations, including the Cumberbatch family,” Denny said.
Similar statements were echoed by the island nation’s deputy chairman overseeing the national commission on reparations, David Comissiong. “This is at the earliest stages. We are just beginning. A lot of this history is only really now coming to light,” Comissiong told the Telegraph.
“The money should be used to turn the local clinic into a hospital, support local schools, and improve infrastructure and housing,” he added.
The Barbados reparations commission is also pressuring Conservative British MP Richard Drax to turn over hundreds of acres of real estate on the island so that the former plantation owned by his ancestors can be turned into a memorial to the enslaved. Should Drax continue to refuse the demand, the island plans to seek recourse through an international arbitration court — and, if successful, could use a similar strategy to go after other slave-holding families such as Cumberbatch’s.
Comissiong denounced the Telegraph‘s reporting Monday, claiming that the British newspaper is on “a mission to concoct its own narrative about Barbados’ Reparations Campaign.”