Bicentennial Anniversary of Abolition of Slave Trade Provides the Opportunity to Move Forward – Whiteman


Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), Burchell Whiteman, has said that this year’s commemoration of the bicentennial anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade provided the opportunity to expose the details of slavery, the legacy it has left, and to examine ways of going forward. The High Commissioner, who was speaking at a special service held recently at the Gloucester Seventh Day Adventist Church to mark October as Black History Month in the UK, said that the process of going forward “must involve facing the truth about the past and being prepared to learn more and indeed to be inspired by the courage, fortitude and vision of our forebears, even during their period as exploited victims.”
“Going forward must involve acknowledgment that not all white people were guilty and not all black people were innocent. Going forward must involve intelligent and honest diagnosis of personal attitudes and national policies and a resolve to test both against the benchmarks of integrity, respect, equity and justice,” he stated.
In the meantime, the High Commissioner mentioned that the bicentennial observance in the UK is being criticised for not giving sufficient credit to the role of the Africans in the UK in the abolition of slavery such as Olaudah Equiano, and persons in other parts of the Diaspora such as Samuel Sharpe, and urged the congregation of Jamaican nationals to ensure that their voices and votes bring about change in the society. “If we are to secure our future, our children and grandchildren must be exposed to school curricula, which pay appropriate attention to their own ethnic and cultural environment and history. That is an important part of the process of mental emancipation about which Marcus Garvey wrote and Bob Marley sang. “If we are to secure our future, we must all operate on the basis of self-confidence in who we are, we must all demonstrate that we love ourselves, respect others and appreciate the splendours of diversity within God’s creation, including those made in the image and likeness of God himself .in other words, the rich tapestry of the races and cultures of all our people,” he stated.

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