Reparations: We’re not asking for palaces built by our blood but justice – Pres Ali to snotty British talk show host
…Good Morning Britain host criticised for ‘vile’ treatment of Guyana’s President
British television presenter Richard Madeley has been on the receiving end of criticism for his vile and condescending reaction during an interview with President Dr Irfaan Ali on the issue of reparations for slavery.
President Ali appeared on Wednesday’s edition of the ‘Good Morning Britain’ show, hosted by Madeley and another host, Susanna Reid. Coming down to the tail end of the near 10-minute-long interview, Madeley got visibly hypered and slammed his hands down on a desk, asking the Guyanese Leader in a very condescending tone whether Guyana wants a palace as a gesture from the British Royal Family.
In response, President Ali said, “Well, no, we don’t want the British to hand over a palace that we built… If you go to many of the palaces in Britain, you’ll see the lovely greenheart wood from Guyana. You will see the sweat, tears and blood of the slaves who were exploited, and the revenue that was earned from the exploitation. So, we’re not asking for a palace; we’re asking for justice and a fair form of justice to the ancestors, and [for] the greatest injustice that has ever been done…
“We’re not asking for a palace. You can enjoy the palace, and when we visit you, we’ll also enjoy [it].”
At the beginning of the interview, Madeley questioned why current generations should carry the burden of their European slave trader ancestors to pay reparations and apologise for slavery.
Insisting that it is no burden, the Head of State reminded that those very persons are beneficiaries of the wealth gained from the slave trade, which he described as the greatest injustice to humankind.
“You are one of the beneficiaries of that slave trade, so this is not a burden. You should be concerned and you should pay, because you today still benefiting from the greatest indignity to the human being, and that is the slave trade. And not only did you benefit during the slave trade, and your country develop, but look at what it cost the developing world. During slavery, resources were used to build your country, build up your capacity. You were able to then become competitive, you were able to invest in mechanization, and developing countries like ours were left behind. So, you should be very concerned, because you are prime beneficiaries of exploits of slavery,” the President contended.
He further told the British talk show hosts that the payout of reparations can be easily calculated based on the extraction of wealth from former British colonies and the time value of money. He also mentioned the fact that there is multiple literature on how these calculations should be done.
However, the Guyanese Leader pointed out that it is not only about the value of the payout, but the losses that have impacted every sphere of the lives of those enslaved, as well as their descendants, who are still feeling the effects of the slave trade.
“[It’s] the loss of time; it is the loss of competitiveness; it is the loss of human dignity; it is the loss to our education system; it is the culture that we lost; it is all of this indignity that surrounded slavery that we must consider,” he posited.
President Ali went on to say, “This year, in Guyana, we commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Demerara Rebellion, and it took 200 years to get an apology from one of the families. (I don’t believe that you’d want us to wait another) 200 years for reparative justice and for us to take this conversation forward. Caricom would’ve set out a 10-point plan on what should constitute reparative justice and what should constitute reparation. The calculation goes into billions for the region.”
The apology that the Guyanese Leader was referring to came from Charles Gladstone, a descendent of John Gladstone, whose family benefitted from African enslavement and indentureship on the Demerara and other plantations owned by the Gladstone patriarch. On August 25, Charles officially apologised for slavery and indentureship in Guyana.
The Gladstone heir further revealed that his family has been helping to fund some work for the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery at the University College of London for the past two years, and are committed to this for five years. He said they are also funding other British cultural projects that seek to highlight the horrors faced by slavery.
“Vile” and “condescending”
Meanwhile, during Wednesday’s breakfast talk show, President Ali shut down Madeley’s attempt to trivialise slavery by comparing it to the fact that many nations owe their existence and prosperity to crimes in the past.
But according to the Guyanese Head of State, “I think you’re doing a great injustice to compare slavery with any of the other historical facts that you’re mentioning… It brings great injustice to the indignity that slavery brought to the people… We’re not going to tolerate the injustice that occurred during slavery to be compared with any other system. Slavery, we all agree, was the greatest injustice that was ever done to human beings. So, we should not even try to compare this to any other system. There is no other system that has created greater injustice and indignity to humankind than slavery.”
Several persons took to twitter to condemn Madeley’s actions during the interview, not only for his questions, but the “vile” and “condescending” manner in which he asked them, as well as the act of slamming his hand on the table and laughing over Ali’s response to his ‘palace gesture’ remark.
According to British The Independent online newspaper, award-winning musician and film score composer Nitin Sawhney wrote on X/Twitter: “Madeley really is an arrogant, ignorant, patronising piece of work, isn’t he? He addressed a president with mocking laughter and aggressive table thumping in response to a request for Britain’s historical exploitation of slave labour to be acknowledged.”
@L_A_D_J added: “Richard Madeley, a breakfast news show host, talking down to and mocking the PRESIDENT of another country with a pompous fake laugh. The f***ing disrespect and entitlement is insane.”
Meanwhile, @TerrelleGraham wrote: “Who does Richard Madeley think he is? Slamming his hand down on the desk and talking to the president of Guyana in such a rude and disrespectful manner. The subject matter of this discussion makes his behaviour even worse.” (G8)