Grenada: Confronting my family’s slave-owning past – BBC News

Nearly 200 years after her ancestors were given a large payout from the British government when slavery was abolished, our correspondent travels to Grenada to find out how this grim legacy continues to reverberate today.

High up in the hills of the Caribbean island of Grenada, in the grounds of a former slave plantation, a cast iron bell hangs from a tree.

The ringing of the bell signified the start of another working day for West African slaves, harvesting sugar cane. Today, the Belmont estate is a popular destination for tourists. It’s a place to enjoy the local cuisine and visit the gift shop, where you can buy artisanal chocolate bars embossed with the image of the slave bell.

It was here that I came face to face with the brutality of the past – and the role played by families like mine.

“This is the sound of slavery,” said DC Campbell, a Grenadian novelist and descendent of slaves. He picked up a pair of shackles made for a child, turning them over in his hands.

The artefact, usually housed in the island’s national museum, would have been used on a slave ship on the infamous middle passage from West Africa to the Caribbean.

We looked in silence at the shackles for adults and children, the neck brace which could be tightened until a slave could no longer breathe, and the leather whip which was even used on pregnant women. So sinister in the bright sunlight.

“These were instruments of control and torture,” said Nicole Phillip-Dowe of the University of the West Indies, matter-of-factly. “There was an entire system of control to ensure that you get the labour you want, to get the profits that you want.”

  • Listen to Laura’s story at BBC’s The Documentary – also available on BBC Sounds or wherever you get your podcasts
  • And you can watch this weekend on BBC World News (outside UK) or on the iPlayer (UK only)

Image caption, Garfield Hankey

…(read more).

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