Thursday, 29 March 2007

Celebrate Abolition: Use the Wilberforce

[...] The clamoring for apologies and reparations for slavery in England during recent weeks--stoked by steady coverage from the BBC--made Tuesday's incident almost inevitable. Last week, for example, London Mayor Ken Livingstone dismissed the contribution of parliamentarian William Wilberforce in defeating the slave trade and demanded national contrition. Livingstone called on all Londoners to repent their "squalid" evasion of guilt. In an op-ed for the Guardian, he summoned all residents to join him in "formally apologizing for London's role in this monstrous crime."

Similarly, Anglican leader John Sentamu used the BBC One Sunday program to call on the government to apologize. The second most senior cleric in the Church of England told the interviewer that Britain "should have the sense of saying we are very sorry and we have to put the record straight." (Several months ago, in fact, Tony Blair called Britain's role in the slave trade "profoundly shameful"; earlier this month he expressed "deep sorrow" for its support of the institution.)

Meanwhile, activist groups and politicians ratcheted up demands
that government payments be made to the descendants of slaves. After debating a reparations advocate on BBC 24, Baroness Caroline Cox warned the House of Lords: "I hope that we will not allow the celebration of the year of [Wilberforce's] achievement to be a condemnation of our failures." Read more

1 comment:

Fern said...

The slave trade, the trafficing of black Africans by Arabs as well as Europeans, was facilitated by local African elites, an uncomfortable fact ususally ignored by the lobby campaigning for apologies and reparations.