Message from Opposition Leader Bruce Golding, MP for the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Trade in Africans


Two hundred years ago legislation was enacted in the British Parliament to outlaw the trans-Atlantic slave trade. That did not bring an end to slavery itself but it was an important step toward its ultimate abolition.
No one would dare deny, no argument can rationalize and nothing that has since been done can ameliorate the barbarity visited on our forebears in Africa when they were lured, ensnared, kidnapped, overpowered, sold and exchanged like livestock, crammed in overcrowded slave ships and shipped off to faraway lands to work like beasts of burden on sugar, tobacco and cotton plantations.
At its peak, some 85,000 Africans were taken from their homeland each year and shunted across the Atlantic to a different world and a miserable life. Between the 15th and 19th centuries, as many as 20 million Africans were taken, denuding many African states and tribes of some of their most productive people.
The brutal experience of slavery and the devastating and lasting effect it has had on succeeding generations of people and on scores of nation states can never be forgotten, must never be dismissed or trivialized as “the way of the times” and can never be forgiven unless its savagery and reprehensibility are acknowledged and forgiveness sought. As we observe the bicentenary of the ending of the slave trade we must view it not so much as an “achievement” because slavery is something that should never have happened. Rather, we must see it as a triumph over the greatest inhumanity the world has ever witnessed.
But we must go further. Remnants of slavery still exist in our psyche and although we ourselves have not been crammed in slave ships or condemned to work in the hot sun with a whip on our backs, its conditioning of our minds and its debilitating effect on our own appreciation of our worth, rights and dignity remain a yoke that we have not fully cast off. The process of liberation may have begun 200 years ago but the job is not yet done. We who carry the burden of the legacy of slavery owe it to those who carried the burden of slavery itself and, indeed, to ourselves to complete that process.

JIS Social