Why Did Slave Owners Receive Compensation?

I have been trying to wrap my head around this for years. I must say I’m still trying to wrap my head around it even now.

Why were slave owners compensated?

So slavery is “abolished”, at the beginning of the 19th century, because it is a vile practice: but the slave owners get paid billions of pounds (at the current exchange rate) to compensate for their losses.

They called it compensated empancipation:

The British Empire enacted a policy of compensated Emancipation for its colonies in 1833, followed by Denmark, France in 1848, and the Netherlands in 1863. Most South American and Caribbean nations emancipated slavery through compensated schemes in the 1850s and 1860s, while Brazil passed a plan for gradual, compensated emancipation in 1871, and Cuba followed in 1880 after having enacted freedom at birth a decade earlier.

The British enacted the Slave Compensation Act of 1837 to oversee this process. The Act empowered the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt, “under the direction of the Treasury, to either pay the compensation that was still owing to slave owners out of the West India Compensation Account, or to transfer a proportionate amount of 3½% government annuities”.

Slave owners were paid approximately £20 million in compensation in over 40,000 awards for enslaved people freed in the colonies of the Caribbean, Mauritius and the Cape of Good Hope according to a government census that named all owners as of 1 August 1834

Whoever has an answer to my question will probably have answered the follow up question that I have, concerning all forms of stolen wealth drained from around the world, and from Africa and Africans, since the 1500s.

Essentially, what conditions warrant awarding a thief compensation? Should a thief get compensation?

Is theft ever a business transaction?

Is theft, and looting, covered under contract laws? What is its contractual basis?

Is stolen property covered by property laws?

That is, are the proceeds of theft protected by property laws?

Yes, or No?

Help me understand.

While you are at it, please take a peek at the work of the The Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slaveownership


What are Apartheid Studies?

“Apartheid Studies” is a term coined by University of Johannesburg academic, Professor Nyasha Mboti. The term refers to the generation of a body of theory about, and the systematic study of, apartheid. 5 Apartheid Studies projects are currently underway:

  1. Book project: Apartheid Studies (Africa World Press, 2017).
  2. Book project: Apartheid for Dummies (Africa World Press, 2018).
  3. 10-year Encyclopaedia project: An Encyclopaedia of Apartheid, vol. 1-5 (Africa World Press, 2018-2028).
  4. Video project: Apartheid in 30-seconds – Database of short videos clips on the various meanings of apartheid.
  5. Online Masterclass: Readings in African Thought

The Very Serious Function of Racism

“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”

Toni Morrison (1975)