Transatlantic Trafficking of Africans Had 9,000 More Voyages Than Previously Thought, Russia Implicated


New research on the Transatlantic Trafficking of Africans has revealed there were approximately 9,000 more voyages than previously thought.

This was revealed today at a media conference to disclose the most comprehensive database showing countries that were complicit in the trafficking of Africans to the Caribbean.

It was held at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies, Mona campus.

The latest research found that there were 36,000 voyages and several more countries implicated as traffickers.

Among the newly implicated countries are Russia, Sweden and Switzerland.

Immediately one of the newly implicated countries, Russia, challenged the accuracy of the research.

Tauna Thomas reports.

The database was first developed in 1999 documenting all the voyages of slaver trips to the Caribbean. Over the last 20 years, the total number of voyages jumped from 27,000 to 36,000.

The updated database highlighted the involvement of countries such as Great Britain, France, Portugal, Holland and Spain.

The involvement of these nations would’ve been no surprise as these countries were identified as the main players in the trafficking of more than 12 million Africans.

However, as the database was updated over the years based on the findings of more extensive research, it has implicated several other countries for participating or assisting in the trade or benefiting from it.

Russia has been identified as one country that has been documented in the updated database.

Head of the Consular Section of the Russian Embassy in Jamaica, Ambassador Aleksei Sazonov was at the media conference today when the data was disclosed.

The Russians have in the past dismissed any information that suggests they participated in the trafficking of Africans.

The database shows a Russian ship carried over 300 Africans to Cuba in the 1800s.

Ambassador Sazonov urged the main researcher, Professor David Eltis, and the Centre to double check the accuracy of their findings.

But, Chair of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, Dr. Ahmed Reid, assured the audience that the data were well researched.

The Centre’s Director, Professor Verene Shepherd also cautioned countries about being too quick to dismiss the data indicating that their country was complicit.

The slave voyages’ database is freely accessible on the website

Meanwhile, Dr. Reid highlighted the involvement of two other countries whose participation is not widely known.

He says there were several entities in Switzerland that invested heavily in the trade.

Dr. Reid also says Sweden was a primary supplier of iron to the British, who used the material to make the instruments used to brand enslaved Africans.

Dr. Ahmed Reid, Chair of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

And Professor Shepherd says the updated database will strengthen the region’s claim for reparations.

Professor Shepherd, Director of the Centre for Reparations Research.

In 2018, Tauna won the UNICEF Media Award for Excellence in Reporting on Children’s Rights. She graduated from CARIMAC in 2015 and joined NNN in 2016. Since then, she’s covered several high-profile court cases including the X6 murder trial, the police death squad trial and is currently covering the Uchence Wilson Gang trial. Thomas is the Producer of Talking History heard on Nationwide Radio every Saturday.

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