The plantation was purchased in 1728 by Abraham Cumberbatch, Benedict’s seventh-great-grandfather.
It remained in the family until slavery was abolished in the 1830s, when it was owned by Benedict’s great-great- great-grandfather, Abraham Parry Cumberbatch.
Slavery built the Cumberbatch fortune, which at its height in the mid-18th century made them one of Britain’s wealthiest families, owning at least seven Barbados sugar plantations and a stately home near Taunton, Somerset.
However, another equally despicable trade in humans was taking place around the same time in the Mediterranean.
It was home to a community of disenfranchised men, women and children who — in one of history’s most shameful passages — were treated as property, and often worked to death, in service of the British Empire.
In an irony which even a Hollywood screenwriter couldn’t make up, Benedict is currently treading red carpets in support of the Oscar campaign for 12 Years A Slave, the harrowing hit film which depicts the ugly reality of the slave trade.
Beckles said Britain is being focused on since it was the largest slave owner in the 1830’s when slavery was abolished.
Here, roughly 45 minutes’ drive along a Tarmac road and then a dusty track, past endless acres of sugar cane swaying gently in the breeze, is a weather-beaten white stone archway announcing that you have arrived at the Cleland Plantation.
That sum would be the equivalent of £200 billion today.” In the lawsuit, CARICOM is claiming that slavery condemned the region to a poverty that is being felt to this day..
“The awful legacy of these crimes against humanity ought to be repaired for the developmental benefit of our Caribbean societies and all our peoples,” said Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
With its high ceilings, wooden floors, and walls covered with peeling paint, it has what estate agents might describe as rustic charm.
You can still see a set of circular red steps, where Cleland’s owners would stand as they barked out orders to men forced to labour on the surrounding sugar plantation, which at its peak extended to 400 acres.
One of the more revealing results from the new survey was on attitudes about the Confederate battle flag: 57 percent of the whites surveyed said they viewed the flag as merely “an emblem of Southern pride,” as contrasted with 68 percent of African-Americans who said it was a symbol of racism.