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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Monday, November 27, 2006

Lets have a word about slavery.
Now in this entry, we will concentrate on that condition as it was imposed on black races, and the history of the abolition of the practice by the whites..
Initially, slavery was introduced by African tribes on their enemies.. I was found to be profitable for warring tribes to take prisoners, transport them to the eastern shores of Africa, and sell them initially to Arabic states, and then, as the Europeans took control of the seas, to the English, the French, and other European nations who were looking for cheap labour in their Carribean holdings, and of course, in their own countries..
So it might be said, with historical backup, that indeed the practice started with warring African tribes, by the black nations themelves..
The reason this has come up is a statement from Tony, which in essence is an apology for a society long gone, for taking part in such an abhorrent practice. Next year will be the two hundredth anniversary of the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire, and this issue has been left to Tony to address this issue before he steps down..
Yet somehow, this is not enough for some black community leaders in this country. They're looking for a definative apology.. some demanding financial reparation, and this, in essence, is ridiculous.
We're looking at a time, a society, which ws controlled by the white nations, and they were taking advantage of an opportunity presented to them by the black.
As President Andrew Jackson said in 1866.. "Everyone would, and must admit, that the white race was superior to the black, and that while we ought to do our best to bring them up to our present level, that, in doing so, we should, at the same time raise our own intellectual status so that the relative position of the two races would be the same."
This attitude prevailed in the US for another 100 years, and to some extent still is the opinion of a certain percentage of Americans..
No apology from George though, and certainly no possible acquiesence to demands for financial reparation for those who are decendants of those who worked the Southern cotton fields.
Slavery itself has a history that reaches back thousands of years. The Romans, the Greeks, the Celts.. all of the major civilisations kept their captives to work for them, under conditions which were on the whole, unsavoury. None of these civilisations granted slaves the rights of citizens, for indeed, they were 'property'.
What Tony has done is a brave move, with the two hundredth anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the Empire coming up next year. It has set the state for other governments throughout the world to emmulate this sentiment..
It is doubtfull any other nation will take this step, in fact it would be, to most other nations who involved themselves in the buying and selling of other human beings, anathema to recall their history in such an unfavourable light.
But, for one segment of the British citizenry to now demand anything other than the acknowledgement of the failures and foibles of a society long gone, is hardly realistic.
They would be next, demanding to have reparations from the individual tribes in Africa, which began the practice in the first place..
There are countless races, countless nationalities, which have throughout history, been slaves.
Next, we will have the Jewish Community demanding some recognition from Egypt, for their captivity.
Slavery, in today's society, is abhorrent, but it's a far different world than that which existed two hundred years ago..
Even the man acclaimed as perhaps the greatest emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, said in 1865, "It is unsatisfactory to some to know that the elective franchise is not given to the coloured man. I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on intelligent coloured men, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers.."
Even Abraham had his conditions, and that some 58 years after the British abolished the practice.
In fact, it might be put to Britain's credit, that it's Navy took an active part in the destruction of the trade along the African Coast, sending squadrons to destroy slave ships, and setting those captive on board free.
Asking for more, 199 years later, is bordering on presumption.

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