News Releases

African and European Royals in Slave Trading Compared

For Release Upon Receipt - March 16, 2023



 Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI) and Chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles welcomes His Royal Highness Paul Jones Eganda, Global Chief and President, Ateker International Development Organization (AIDO) Network at The UWI Regional Headquarters ahead of the March 2 Symposium themed “Reparations and Royalty, Africa and Europe: Exploding Myths and Empowering Truths.


The UWI Regional Headquarters, Jamaica W.I. Thursday, 16 March 2023— During the Western campaign to illegalise the trans-Atlantic Trade of Africans in the 19th century, traders and their allies argued that African commercial and political interests were their business partners. According to Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI) and Chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, “Since then, this perspective has gained global traction, becoming the dominant narrative, particularly in the Caribbean and the Americas. Though the evidence to debunk this narrative, and to contextualize its significance is considerable, it has not gained anywhere near the level of advocacy and academic representation.”

 In acknowledgment of this gap, and as a signature event in its 75th Anniversary celebrations calendar, The UWI and its Centre for Reparation Research and PJ Patterson Institute for Africa-Caribbean Advocacy, convened an all-day symposium themed “Reparations and Royalty, Africa and Europe: Exploding Myths and Empowering Truths,” held at The UWI Regional Headquarters on Thursday, March 2, and a Youth Forum titled “Wha Gwaan Africa?!” held at the Mona Campus on Friday, March 3.

 Among the featured speakers at the events, was a high-level delegation of royal African traditional leaders hosted by the CARICOM Reparations Commission, who led conversations on the roles of African and European Royalties in the trans-Atlantic trafficking of enslaved Africans.  

 Vice-Chancellor Beckles noted that The UWI was “honoured as a university community to take this responsibility for the reuniting of the Royal Highnesses with the African people of the Caribbean.” During the opening session on March 2, as he provided historical context on the relationship between Europeans and Africans, he emphasized that it is critical to examine the two sides of the equation, “While the royal families of Europe were organising their armies, building their corporations and establishing structures for the destruction of societies in Africa, so as to secure enchained and enslaved labour, the royal families of Africa were on the receiving end of that violence.” In his plenary presentation, Vice-Chancellor Beckles underscored, “No group of people have been more denigrated by the historians of Europe than the Kings and Queens and nobles of Africa within the context of colonization.”

Chair of the symposium, Professor Verene Shepherd, Director of the Centre for Reparation Research (CRR) at The UWI, who also serves as Vice-Chair of the CRC and Member, National Council on Reparation, Jamaica (NCR) asserted that the discussions are significant as knowledge exchange to fill a knowledge gap “…Because as Marcus Mosiah Garvey stated, a people without knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots, and we are looking to reconnect with those roots today” she said. “The reasons for the shortfall in academic and public awareness are many, but the time is now for the matter to be successfully re-addressed,” she added.

His Royal Highness Paul Jones Eganda, Global Chief and President, Ateker International Development Organization (AIDO) Network stated, “We are greatly honoured to be invited by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles.” Addressing the various interest groups and members of the audience in-person and online he said, “We work as a team. We have approximately 657 kingdoms and cultural institutions that are affiliated with us. These groups constitute what we call the AIDO Royal Community.” Highlighting the purpose of the mission, he said, “this royal delegation here today has travelled to Jamaica with one objective, to demonstrate to you, our dear family of Africa in the Caribbean, that we are not a race created as slaves. The fact is that we have a rich, proud, living history of royalty in Africa that still exists today which we represent here.” He affirmed, “Reparations justice has to take place, and Africa has to join in.”

 The March 3 Youth Forum saw not just UWI students attending, but other tertiary students along with associations and groups from across Jamaica in person, and others across the region who joined online.  The forum examined the significance of royal traditional leaders and other royals in Africa, including their responsibilities and their roles, the importance of reconnecting Caribbean and Jamaica with African culture and traditions, the need for reparatory justice for people of African descent, and how young people could contribute to that process. 


Related News: CARICOM Reparations Commission and UWI Centres welcome Royal African Delegation

The recording of the March 2 symposium, “Reparations and Royalty, Africa and Europe: Exploding Myths and Empowering Truths” can be accessed here.

The recording of the March 3 Youth Forum, “Wah Gwaan Africa?!” can be accessed here.

 About The University of the West Indies

The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region for the past 75 years.

From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and its Open Campus, and global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

 The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world.

 The UWI has been consistently ranked among the top universities globally by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education (THE). The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists since its debut in the rankings in 2018. In addition to its leading position in the Caribbean in the World University Rankings, it is also in the top 25 for Latin America and the Caribbean and the top 100 global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the leading universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action.

 2023 marks The UWI’s 75th anniversary. The Diamond jubilee milestone themed “UWI at 75. Rooted. Ready. Rising.” features initiatives purposely designed and aligned to reflect on the past, confront the present, and articulate plans for the future of the regional University.

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