Slavery: Condemnation, Conscience, Compensation ?

March 27, 2007

Quite rightly the 200th anniversery of the aboltion of slavery has been properly observed over the last week. Dignified marches and intelligent discussion have been met with the respect such an event deserves. The slave trade and our ancestors part in it ranks alongside the holocaust  as one of the most heinous chapters in the history of mankind. The suffering experienced by these people can only be imagined and it is right that we are reminded of these horrors to ensure their experience and deaths are not forgotten. Mankind has had to learn endless things througout it’s existence and it’s ability, despite some evidence to the contrary, to learn from it’s mistakes sets apart from other species.

Unfortunately there are stories emerging of financial compensation for currently living ancestors of slaves. This is absurd, it demeans the memory of every life lost or destroyed by slavery. How anyone can imagine that those who suffered can in some way be relieved of their suffering through the financial gain of their great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren are deluded. They are motivated by greed, this is the claim culture gone mad, it must not be allowed. I can picture the man from the claims company in some cheap day time TV style ad. ” Were your ancestors affected by slavery 300 years ago? Call us now on 0898 slimey bastard. No win no fee.” Switch to some smug face beaming ” I won a hundred thousand pounds from the British Government, for their part in the slave trade. I bought a new car and this lovely conservatory. I hope to have a holiday in Florida next year” NO! NO! NO!

This is emotional blackmail on an unprecedented scale. Can you imagine the response if I approached the Norwegian government for compensation for the possibility that one of my ancestors was used by The Vikings as a slave (which was quite common by the way). What about the Italians for my Anglo Saxon ancestors that were Roman Slaves thrown to the lions? Ludicrous but this is what the do gooders and the ridiculous expect for the ancestors of the African slaves. In one of my earlier posts I mentioned my Dads time as a Japanese prisoner of war, this was just one generation ago. Do I feel entitled to compensation for his pain and suffering? No I don’t, I draw strength from what my Dad suffered every day knowing that however life treats me, if he could cope with that, well I can deal with anything.

Those people who are now living in America, The Carribean and Europe should draw strength from the dignity their race has shown in arriving in the 21st century thriving, some of the greatest minds, doctors, scientists and sportsmen are of African origin. They should maybe spare a thought for the ancestors of the non slaves left in Africa who would give anything for a comfortable western lifestyle away from drought, famine and HIV. Human existence is wrapped up in circumstance, chance and fortune, slaves and their ancestors are a huge part of how the world is today as are many other of the horror stories that bring us to where we are now. Their memory should be protected for future generations but if one person benefits financially for the suffering of someone they will never know, then every ounce of blood, suffering, depravity and pain will be tainted and diminished forever. 

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