Posted by: Winslie Gomez | 26/03/2007

Restoration or Restitution

What should it be,  should the world decide, the descendants of the victims or who exactly decides?

 So now we live in a world without slavery do we?  


Anglican leaders mark end of slavery
Posted on : Sun, 25 Mar 2007 00:35:00 GMT | Author : World News Editor
News Category : World

LONDON, March 24 The two leaders of the Anglican Church led a “Walk of Witness” through London to mark the 200th anniversary of Britain ‘ s abolition of slavery. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Archbishop of York John Sentamu presided at a service at the end of the march, the BBC reported.

“The intention of today is not only to renew that act of repentance, not just an apology but repentance, acknowledgment that we were part of this terrible history, but also to wake people up to where we are now, the fact there still are problems,” Williams said. The 200th anniversary of abolition is Sunday. A national service is scheduled Tuesday at Westminster Abbey.[1]   

ABC News

Modern-Day Slavery in

Yes, There Are Slaves in the
United States, and the Problem Is Getting Worse


– Emily Nicely, 19, was routinely beaten with broom handles, a metal pipe, belts and wooden boards.


While Tony Blair partied in Ghana, London Mayor Ken Livingstone challenged his gov’t to join him in fully apologising for slavery

This month the bicentenary of the abolition of one of history’s greatest crimes — the trans-Atlantic slave trade – is being commemorated. The British government must formally apologise for it. All attempts to evade this are weasel words; delay demeans our country. Many people have described the slave trade as a terrible tragedy. To describe it as such is to ignore the calculating brutality with which the enslavement of and trade in Africans was developed and justified by the slavers and the politicians. Let’s just recall the slave trade’s dimensions. Conservative estimates of the numbers transported are 10 to 15 million; others range up to 30 million. Deaths started immediately – as many as five per cent in prisons before transportation and more than one in 10 during the voyage, the murder of two million people. Conditions imposed on survivors were unimaginable.

Virginia made it lawful ‘to kill and destroy such negroes’ who ‘absent themselves from … service’. Branding and rape were commonplace. Jamaican planter Thomas Thistlewood in 1756 has a slave ‘well flogged and pickled, then made Hector s**t in his mouth’ for eating sugar cane. From 1707 punishment for rebellion included ‘nailing them to the ground’ and ‘applying fire by degrees from the feet and hands, burning them gradually up to the head’. When in 1736 Antigua found there was to be a rebellion five ringleaders were broken on the wheel, 77 burned to death, six hung in cages to die of thirst. For ‘lesser’ crimes castration or chopping off half the foot were used. A manual noted: ‘Terror must operate to keep them in subjection’. The consequences of this barbarism were clear. More than a million-and-a-half slaves were taken to the British Caribbean islands in the 18th century but by its end there were only six hundred thousand. By 1820 more than 10 million Africans had been transported across the
Atlantic and two million Europeans had moved. But the European population grew to 12 million while the black slave population shrank to six million.


If the murder of millions, and torture of millions more, is not ‘a crime against humanity’ these words have no meaning. The writer, James Baldwin once said that “the past is what makes the present coherent, and the past will remain horrible for exactly as long as we refuse to assess it honestly”. To justify murder and torture on an industrial scale black people had to be declared inferior, or not human. As James Walvin noted, there was a “form of bondage which, from an early date, was highly racialised. By 1750, to be black in the Americas (and often in
Europe) was to be enslaved.”
The 1774 History of Jamaica argued black slaves were a different species able to work “in a very bungling and slovenly manner, perhaps not better than an orangutan”. Racism today cannot be properly understood and defeated without recognising that the justification of slavery cemented the notion of white superiority. Some of the material being produced today to mark the anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade makes it appear white people liberated black — the assumption being they could not do it themselves. In reality slaves rose against the trade from its inception. This broke it. The first recorded slave revolt was in 1570. There were at least 250 ship-board rebellions. Jamaican slave society faced a serious revolt every decade in addition to prolonged guerilla war. In 1760, 30,000 Jamaican slaves revolted. The culmination, recorded in CLR James’s The Black Jacobins, was the 1791 slave revolt in St Domingue. Slavery in British possessions, after abolition of the trade, was abolished following revolts in Barbados in 1816, Demerara in 1823, and in Jamaica 1831 in which 60,000 slaves participated. For this reason UNESCO officially marks August 23, the anniversary of the St Domingue rebellion’s outbreak, as slavery’s official Remembrance Day. No one denigrates William Wilberforce, but it was black resistance and economic development that destroyed slavery, not white philanthropy. When I made these points in a national newspaper last week, the reaction on the internet showed just why an apology is so necessary. People said such things as: “When West Indians say thank you for removing them from the s**t-hole which is Africa then an apology might be due”; “it was a long time ago, everyone involved is centuries dead, and nobody cares”; “the British empire and slavery are one small part of humanity’s history”; “it is what it is, nothing to get upset about and much less to apologise for”; and “Africans are mostly to blame for African slavery”. The level of bigotry was breathtaking and confirms the importance of continuing to confront racist ideas. Slavery’s reality is increasingly acknowledged outside

Britain. Even George W Bush has described trans-Atlantic slavery as “one of the greatest crimes of history”. The Virginia General Assembly last month expressed “profound regret” for its role, stating slavery “ranks as the most horrendous of all depredations of human rights and violations of our founding ideals”. In 1999 Liverpool Council became the first major British slaving city to formally apologise. The Church of England Synod followed suit. The British state’s refusal of such an apology has been squalid. Until recently it refused even to recognise the slave trade as a crime against humanity on the grounds that it was legal at the time. It helped block a European Union apology for slavery. Two arguments are brought forward against apology — not only by the government but also by David Cameron. First an apology is unnecessary because this happened a long time ago. This would only apply if there had been a previous apology — there hasn’t been. Slavery was the mass murder of millions of people.
Germany apologised for the holocaust.
Britain must do so for the slave trade.


Second, that apologising is “national self-hate”. But love of one’s country and its achievements is based on reality, not denying it. A Britain that contributed Shakespeare, Newton and
Darwin has no need to fear comparisons.
But a British state that refuses to apologise for a crime as the slave trade merely lowers our country in the opinion of the world, not raise it. It is for that reason that I invite all representatives of London society to join me in following the example of Virginia, France, Liverpool and the Church of England by formally apologising for London’s role in this monstrous crime.

Published: 26 March 2007
Issue: 1262




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