Nottingham Commemorates Bicentennial of Abolition of the Slave Trade


Bishop of King, the Right Reverend Robert Thompson, has said that the commemoration of the bicentenary of the Act to Abolish the Slave Trade, provided an inspiration to everyone on all sides of the Atlantic to break the silence of shame and to face head on the challenge of creating a new paradigm for the future.
He said this future was one that involved the transformation of structures, cultures and the healing and reconciliation of broken relationships.
Bishop Thompson was delivering the sermon at a special service to mark the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade, at the Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Nottingham, yesterday (March 25).
“The transition from resistance to transformation requires a new kind of commitment on the part of our global world. That commitment involves patience, forgiveness, co-operation, and solidarity. Does this mean that resistance to oppression no longer has a place? No. Oppressive regimes and structures are never gotten rid of overnight. In so far as they linger, resistance must remain a necessary option.
However, when the objective is one of transformation, dialogue, collaboration and solidarity become the primary tools, not resistance,” Bishop Thompson said.
The service was one of several activities in that city to commemorate the Bicentennial. Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Burchell Whiteman was a special guest in the city and read one of the lessons at the service.
Bishop Thompson said that to accept that change and transformation was possible in the way nations and peoples relate to one another required a change in attitude and a willingness to enter into solidarity and dialogue.
“To believe that such things are possible through the action of mutual vulnerability is contrary to the logic of globalization. Such a change in mindset will require an attitude of spiritual discernment and a willingness to enter into solidarity, collaboration based on mutual respect and dialogue,” he said, adding that true reconciliation could happen only when all parties understand each other in ways that lead to behaving differently.
“For those with historic and current social, economic and political power, for example persons of European ancestry, reconciliation will require acknowledging the historic and continuing impact of their privileged position within the economic and social structures of the world. For those in the former colonies there must be a willingness to forgive past wrongs, even as we press home our case for equity and justice,” he said.
Bishop Thompson also noted that reconciliation would require Africa to break the silence of their complicity with the trade in human cargo, and accept the fact that there were wrong doings on both sides of the Atlantic.
The special service also featured reading from Abolitionists, Fredrick Douglas and Hannah Moore, and ended with the rededication of the grave of George Africanus who was born in Sierra Leone, was a slave who was given as a ‘present’ to the Molyneux family in Wolverhampton, but who, on gaining his freedom, moved to Nottingham and became a successful businessman and property owner. He died in 1834.

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