"A welcome addition to the scholarly literature on the African slave trade."—Journal of Contemporary African StudiesWhat is the just measure of Western obligations to Africa? As Africans and their supporters mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the United States and Great Britain, the question becomes increasingly salient. Calls for reparations for the evils of slavery, as well as for past colonial and current economic and political abuses, can be heard across Africa and the African diaspora.
Human rights scholar Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann examines these calls for redress in Reparations to Africa. Her study analyzes the reparations movement from the perspectives of law, philosophy, political science, and sociology. While acknowledging the brutal background of the slave trade and colonialism, and the mistreatment of the peoples of Africa, Howard-Hassmann finds that the complexity of this history, along with facts of the contemporary situation, weakens the case for financial compensation, although she does recommend acknowledgment of, and apologies for, some actions. The book not only provides a bold reckoning of the root causes, both internal and external, of African underdevelopment and unrest but also suggests alternative means for restorative justice and examines the role that institutions such as the International Criminal Court can play.
By including the voices of 74 African academics, diplomats, and activists interviewed by Howard-Hassmann and Anthony P. Lombardo, Reparations to Africa makes a valuable contribution to the reparations debate. In an emotionally and politically charged postcolonial environment, this book serves as a judicious guide to the search for economic justice for Africans today and into the future.
Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann is Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights at Wilfrid Laurier University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She is coeditor of The Age of Apology: Facing Up to the Past and Economic Rights in Canada and the United States, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.
Anthony P. Lombardo is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Toronto.