Did you know between 1662 and 1807 Britain shipped 3.1 million Africans across the Atlantic Ocean in the Transatlantic Slave Trade?
Africans were forcibly brought to British-owned colonies in the Caribbean and sold as slaves to work on plantations. Those involved in the trade were driven by the huge financial gain to be made, both in the Caribbean and at home in Britain.
Enslaved people constantly rebelled against slavery right up until emancipation in 1834. Most remarkable were the slave revolts during the 18th and 19th centuries, including: Tacky’s rebellion in the 1760s Jamaica, the Haitian Revolution in 1789, Fedon’s 1790s revolution in Grenada, the 1816 Barbados slave revolt led by Bussa and the major 1831 slave revolt in Jamaica led by Sam Sharpe. Likewise, voices of dissent began emerging in Britain, highlighting the poor conditions of enslaved people. While the Abolition Movement was growing, so was the opposition by those with financial interests in the Caribbean.
Did you know the British slave trade officially ended in 1807, making the buying and selling of slaves from Africa illegal? However, slavery itself had not ended. It was not until August 01, 1834, that slavery ended in the British Caribbean following legislation passed the previous year. This was followed by a period of apprenticeship with freedom coming in 1838.
Even after the end of slavery and apprenticeship, the Caribbean was not totally free. Former enslaved people received no compensation and had limited representation in the legislatures.
Indentured labour from India and China was introduced after slavery. This system resulted in much abuse and was not abolished until the early part of the 20th century. After the abolition of the indentured system, the Africans and Indians struggled to own land and create their own communities.
Did you know during the First World War, Caribbean people travelled overseas to serve with British armed forces alongside other members of the Empire? Initially, West Indians volunteered but were rejected by the British authorities. As the war progressed, the volunteers were accepted but were often given menial jobs and were posted to battles outside Europe.
Several islands also gave money and local products for the war effort while some islands maintained prisoner of war camps in which German civilians and sailors were held.
This feature runs every Tuesday and Thursday. It is compiled by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]