Comments by readers
“Does the way Black children are behaving have anything do with the slavery of their ancestors and their own achievement? With Britain currently commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade, it got me thinking about the real legacy of slavery on Black people, particularly in how we perceive ourselves, the names we use and the way our low self-esteem affects our children.”
Serious students of human development must understand the fundamental dynamics of ancestry.
Africans, Asians and other recent immigrants to the UK rightly looked back to their ancestral home with pride, partly because it gives them cultural and even psychological groundings, which current environment may not provide.
These groundings are necessary in order that many will be able to function on equal cultural grounds in contemporary society - being able to answer basic questions like “who am I; what am I and where am I going”. Where these questions cannot be understood and answered satisfactory by individuals, whatever their ethnic origins, they and the society in which they live are in trouble.
There are many stories of adopted children searching for years, even into late adulthood, for their natural parents. Not because the adopted are poverty stricken; but because they want to know where they belong.
To deny the individual understanding of ‘self’, is to deny his/her very identity.
We all come from somewhere; from someone; from something. Even ‘Darwinian Fish’ presented as part of the Theory of Evolution, came from somewhere - the sea. To understand human evolution, according to Darwinians, we need to go back to source.
History is important. Genealogists’ life long search for the human gene is an act of interpreting history.
Cosmological ‘Big Bang’ is traceable because it left behind relevant trails. What we are today, even after many millenniums of evolution, is the result of that Bang, many scientists believe. From residual traces, we can determine the age of our Universe. This is another way of looking back to the past to understand the present.
Africans, first human on our Planet, according to palaeontologists, developed ‘Sankofa’ - means to "go back to the past in order to build for the future."
To deny the individual their rights to their cultural history and heritage is potentially fascist. If individuals have no history or perceived cultural heritage, one will be invented and imposed on them. As was the case of Arab and Caucasian slavers relating to African peoples. Their type of slavery was not just physical subjugations, but mental and cultural. In effect, cultural genocide, where languages, religions and ways of life were removed from the subjugated, lasting over many centuries.
“African and ethnic minority history” – basic but fundamental teachings of human development and inter-actions from Africa, Asia, and respective Diasporas - are not been taught adequately in British schools. If any history is to be taught, and it is being taught, then it must be the history about the ancestries of the pupils sitting and learning it. The individual’s history does not start at birth, or even at the birth of their parents. It starts from the journey of their ancestors – black, white, brown, yellow and red people. To teach multi cultural children mono cultural history is a form of brain washing.
The laws of inheritance, derived by Gregor Mendel, a 19th century Austrian monk conducting plant hybridity experiments, in my view does not only relate to the biology of man but also man’s cultural and historical inheritance. This is programmed into the ancestor’s DNA and transferred to off spring. Without which there will have been no identity or a point of human reference. "Genetics" - “gene” are important.
We have not heard fundamental denials or apologies for the deep and ingrained love by Caucasians for Europe, their Motherland. This love motivated them over many centuries to conquer oceans and capture lands and nations for their Motherland. And during occupation of foreign lands, colonials and imperialists ensured that their children are taught their historical ways of life, languages, religions, high science and culture, even when the ‘natives’ were denied that teaching.
The Jews, another people who have searched and waited for a ‘home land’ even when they were wealthy, living in other lands. Many members of the Jewish people created their own “Zionist ideologies” to ensure that the love for their Jewish homeland and traditions are re-calibrated in the minds of their off-spring, to ensure collective belonging.
It is therefore, not unusual for a people to want to look for meaning in their past.
Those who deny their past are rootless and unsure of ‘self’. Humans have always adapted to environmental surroundings for survival of purpose. .
African, Asian and other people who arrived and gave birth to their children in the UK, Europe and elsewhere, have fundamental human rights to look to the past for their inspirations when they may not be able to do that in their current time and location.
Fathers, mothers and grant parents of current children and young people in the UK have contributed to Britain through their labour and paying state dues – direct and indirect taxes.
They obeyed the laws and made their civic contributions. When they do no obey the laws, they paid the consequences. Their children, when they are of age, will also make their contributions, to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), including serving in the Nation’s Arm Forces and security forces.
Given current disengagement by many black and ethic minority children and young people within British Society, in spite of over whelming affluences, it is crucial that a better and inclusive society is constructed, in order to provide a ‘One Nation’ solution, in the interest of all, including potentially lost generations.
The individual needs not go to Africa and Asia to literally seek cultural and historical inspirations. The issue of identity is not about birth place. It is about ancestry and belonging, being a part of an ‘historical family’. Some individuals have many historical families. Modern techniques of DNA testing help individuals to identify some of those family lines. Cultural identity is not essentially about economics or even wealth. It is about identity, whatever, the social and economic conditions.
There is a clear historical track record of Black people facing own realities, one of which is claiming reparations for past wrong doings. A practised that is recognised universally, which also extended to cosmic laws of opposites.
We fought slavery and repressions, colonisation and imperialism. We have taken responsibility for our lives then. And we would like to take more today, were the barriers to be removed by those who put them there.
Forgiveness is associated with wrong doings. What have the descendents of slavery; colonisation and imperialism have to be remorseful about? And while we are been remorseful, what will the real perpetrators of human sufferings doing?
We must not make excuses for historical and contemporary wrong doers. They who are raped should not be made to feel that the rape was their fault. Slavers, colonisers and imperialists were not invited to Africa, Asian, the Americas, etc. to enslave and colonise the traditional inhabitants. It is Racism that generates low ‘self-esteem’, in a predominately mono cultural society such as ours.
Slavery Abolition Bicentenary Commemoration Collective
I am amazed at the confusion as to whether Britain is commemorating 200 years since the passing of the Act that abolished the slave trade or 200 years since the passing of the Act that abolished slavery.
Some sections of the press appear unaware that the Abolition of Slavery Act was not passed until 1833.
The difference between the two Acts is important. One of the terrible consequences of abolishing the slave trade, but not slavery, is the number of Africans who were thrown into the Atlantic Sea between 1807 when the British slave trade was abolished, and 1833 when slavery was abolished.
The reason is that after with the passing of the Slave Trade Act, British captains risked a fine of £100 for every slave found onboard. When they saw the approaching British navy and realised their ships would be searched, captains often ordered the Africans to be thrown overboard to avoid the fines.
This situation would have been avoided if slavery and the slave trade had been abolished at the same time.
The 1807 Act may have decreased the number of Africans being sent to the 'new world' from Africa. It was, however, of no benefit to enslaved Africans already in the new world as it did not liberate them, or set a time table for their release.
They remained enslaved, and continued to endure the horrors and cruelties of slavery. Children born to them increased the numbers of enslaved Africans.
Also some Africans living in Britain who had bought their freedom were kidnapped and sold into slavery in the 'new world'. This was possible because slavery itself had not been abolished.
The public seems to have swallowed the myths from the ‘Amazing Grace’ movie, which portray William Wilberforce as an anti-slavery pioneer who ended slavery almost single-handedly.
The truth is that long before Wilberforce, enslaved Africans such as Nana of the Maroons had led revolts against slavery.
The Quakers were involved in the British abolition campaign before Wilberforce was persuaded to lead the Parliamentary campaign.
Wilberforce was not an anti-slavery pioneer, and in his 1807 pamphlet, he said "it would be wrong to emancipate (the slaves). To grant freedom to them immediately would be to insure not only their masters' ruin, but their own.”
As late as 1824 Wilberforce argued against the immediate abolition of slavery. Although he was later persuaded to join the campaign for the immediate abolition of slavery, he retired from Parliament in 1825 and did not play a pivotal role in the passing of the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1833.
It is also disappointing that the role of Africans such as Ottobah Cuguano and Olaudah Equiano in Britain, Toussaint L’Ouverture in Haiti, and Sam Sharp in Jamaica, and British abolitionists such as Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson in ending slavery is overlooked.
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Last up-dated September 2006
Britain Commemorates the Bicentenary
of The Slave Trade Abolition Act 1807.
One of the Black Community’s Contributions -
“All faith is FALSE, all faith is TRUE.
TRUTH is the shattered mirrors strewn In myriad bits; while each BELIEVES
His LITTLE BIT the whole to own.”
From “The Kasidah of Hji Abu el-Yezdi”, as translated by Sir Richard F. Burton