Charles Gladstone, a descendant of John Gladstone, whose family history is intertwined with the exploitation of African enslavement and indentureship on Demerara and other plantations, has formally issued an apology for the historical wrongs of slavery and indentureship in Guyana.
The apology was delivered during a poignant event organised by the University of Guyana, in collaboration with the Guyana Reparations Committee, as part of the launch of the University’s International Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies.
Charles Gladstone conveyed his remorse with sincerity, addressing the people of Guyana and the descendants of those who endured the agony of slavery and indentured labor. He remarked, “To the people of Guyana, we—the descendants of John Gladstone—wish to extend our deepest apologies for his role in subjecting your ancestors to the chains of slavery.”
Acknowledging the lasting repercussions of slavery on a global scale, Gladstone acknowledged, “Slavery stands as a grievous crime against humanity, its reverberations persisting through time. It is with profound humility and contrition that we confront our forebear’s involvement in this atrocity. We offer our unreserved apologies to the descendants of those enslaved in Guyana, as we recognize the enduring impact of this dark chapter in their lives.”
The apology did not stop at slavery alone. Charles Gladstone also recognized the culpability of Sir John Gladstone, his forefather, in introducing indentured laborers to Guyana. He stated, “We also acknowledge the role of Sir John Gladstone in orchestrating the introduction of indentured laborers to Guyana, a historical injustice that we solemnly apologize for.”
Charles Gladstone, speaking on behalf of his family, demonstrated an understanding that the past cannot be altered, but emphasised their commitment to shaping a better future. He pledged support for CARICOM’s comprehensive ten-point justice plan and called for earnest dialogue between the British government and CARICOM to pave the way for a mutually progressive future.
Encouraging fellow descendants of beneficiaries of slavery to engage in candid discussions about their ancestors’ transgressions, he stressed the importance of collaborative efforts towards progress.
Additionally, Charles Gladstone revealed a multi-faceted approach to redress, noting his family’s support for the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery at the University College of London for the past two years, with a five-year commitment. He disclosed their financial support for various British cultural initiatives aimed at highlighting the harrowing ordeal of slavery.
In an effort to forge enduring connections with Guyana, Charles Gladstone unveiled the establishment of a dedicated financial fund to bolster projects within the country. The fund’s utilization will be discussed in conjunction with local stakeholders and the Gladstone family.
Eric Phillips, Chair of the Guyana Reparations Committee, accepted the formal apology extended by the Gladstone family, marking a significant step towards acknowledging historical injustices and fostering reconciliation. There was a small protest within the event, however, the program proceeded as per normal.


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