Coolies: How Britain Re-Invented Slavery


The slave trade was abolished over years ago but one form of slavery continued well into the 20th century. The so-called “coolies” comprised over one million Indians who migrated to all corners of the British Empire to carry out indentured labour. It is a chapter in colonial history that implicates figures at the very highest level of the British establishment and has defined the demographic shape of the modern world. In this filmwhich combines historical evidence and archive material, descendants of the coolies look into their past and trace the last surviving witnesses. The programme includes interviews with Gandhi’s great-granddaughter, Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie, about Gandhi’s campaign to end indentured labour and David Dabydeen, author and academic, whose great-grandfather was an indentured labourer in British Guyana.Narrated by Sanjeev Bhaskar.