South Africa: Slavery and Justice - Redress Is the Key in Addressing the Sins of the Past

The Slave Trade (Slaves on the West Coast of Africa). A painting by François-Auguste Biard.

Since 2003, when Brown University established a "slavery and justice" project to study its past dependence on the trans-Atlantic slave trade, about 40 other universities had begun examining their histories afresh. While enormous progress has been made in acknowledging sins of the past and tracking down descendants of the original victims, answers on appropriate redress remained elusive.

The year 1838 was a big one in South Africa's colonial history for land acquisition and race relations. It was the year that a bunch of white settlers fleeing "liberal" British rule in the Cape in ox-wagons, fought running battles with and ultimately defeated the Zulu army at Blood River.

It was also an important year for education in the United States; the year that the Jesuit Society of Maryland raised a small fortune from the sale of 272 slaves to Louisiana plantation owners to fund prestigious Georgetown University's debts.

The descendants of the people involved in events such as these have never recovered the losses their ancestors suffered. As one bright spark at...

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