It is clear that while his contribution was important Wilberforce’s contribution to the abolition of slavery is exaggerated. You could be forgiven for thinking it was achieved by him alone. This is typical of the way british historians have chosen to falsely portray the way things have happened down the years. It is a typical strategy of Imperialist nations. For example the heroine of the Crimean War was always Florence Nightingale and there was never a mention of the nurse Mary Seacole.
Since the out burst of protest by Toyin Agbetu at the recent commemorative service at Westminster Abbey marking the 200th anniversary of the act to abolish the slave trade, I have pondered over a simple question. Is this man exercising his right to protest at the spectacle of the ruling classes absolving themselves of the stain of slavery or – is he unwilling to accept that this was a genuine attempt to make amends and we should all move on?
I have concluded that his voice is essential for us to understand what happened and how it affects the black people who live in the UK as well as all the children or descendants of slaves world wide. His indignation is righteous in my opinion. Many of the aristocracy of this country are descendants of slavers. The British industrial revolution was mostly funded by slavery and some piracy. Many of the great Corporations of this nation were founded by slavery. Think sugar – think Tate and Lyle etc, etc. The list is long. The entire white British nation derived huge benefit from slavery and still benefits from institutional racism.
Toyin was surely pointing out that the establishment of this nation has no cause to celebrate it’s decision to abolish slavery. The discussion as to whether or not the modern “baby father” phenomena and the high incidence of absent fathers from Afro Caribbean families is attributable to the dispossession of fathers during slavery goes on. Young children were allowed to be with their mothers for obvious convenience to the slaver while fathers were often separated from wives and children.
When a young black person or any other young person in the UK commits a crime it is very likely he will be placed on an ISS program if prison is a possible sentence. ISSP stands for Intensive supervision and surveillance program. One of the most important requirements of the offender on this program and conditions of them not going prison is that they make some REPARATION. It’s a good word but the white establishment has made no attempt to make a meaningful reparation for the iniquitous acts in the name of Great Britain under the Union Jack. Millions were paid to the slavers as compensation for having to give up their slaves.
So, thank you Toyin.
A few facts about slavery -
Eastern European Networks trafficking women run east to Japan and Thailand, where thousands of young Slavic women now work against their will as prostitutes, and west to the Adriatic coast and beyond. The routes are controlled by Serbian gangs or Russian crime gangs based in Moscow Centered in Moscow and the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
Bonded labor is another ancient form of slavery that survives. Also known as "debt bondage," it is rampant in certain parts of Asia. A loan shark or trafficker lends money to someone who works at a very low wage to pay it back. The debt may not be paid off for decades and can be passed along to family members, sometimes enslaving generations.
In Sudan anyone with $20 can buy a black woman as a slave. Human Rights Watch has long denounced slavery in Sudan in the context of the nineteen-year civil war. In this contemporary form of slavery government-backed and armed militia of the Baggara tribes raid to capture children and women who are then held in conditions of slavery in western Sudan and elsewhere. They are forced to work for free in homes and in fields, punished when they refuse, and abused physically and sometimes sexually. Raids are directed mostly at the civilian Dinka population of the southern region of Bahr El Ghazal. The government arms and sanctions the practice of slavery by this tribal militia, known as muraheleen, as a low cost part of its counterinsurgency war against the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), which is identified with the Dinka tribe of southern Sudan.
Dinka lawyer Peter Nyot Kok said he has been horrified that the government in Khartoum have not taken any measures to end slavery. He had returned to witness the release of several former slaves bought for about 100 dollars by a Christian Solidarity International so they could be freed . One 12 year old boy, Yak, told of how he'd been kidnapped from his village by Arab raiders the year before and enslaved on a farm in the north of Matar. He told the story of how on a day he had been too sick to work, his master chopped off all the fingers on one of his hands as punishment.
There are cases of young girls being forcibly circumcised to “stop them thinking about home” and, “ to break their hearts so they will not be trouble some”. A group of young girls abducted by slavers in Sudan were tied together by a fire one night as their captors slept. One was purposefully tied loosely. During the night she escaped. She was brought back to the group by her captors. The other girls were forced to bite her to death. This was how the slaves were deterred from trying to escape.
Governments of the world should act together and with what ever sanctions or force is necessary to eradicate slavery. The government in the UK should do every thing it can to genuinely set out to address the needs of descendants of the people Britain enslaved and make due reparation where ever it can to assist the passage of young black people through this life. It might begin by properly investigating why so many intelligent young black people fail in the education system and become disenfranchised and marginalised. It isn’t over. There is still work to be done Mr Wilberforce.
copyright e d g a r b r o u g h t o n 2007