As an African Caribbean man I find his comment that Caribbean countries should “move on", patronising, insensitive and insulting in the extreme. Mr Cameron’s upward mobility, his ability to “move on”, has been greatly aided by the very trade he says he finds so very “abhorrent.”
Does, the prime minister, I wonder, feel the same way about the Jewish Holocaust? Did he tell the survivors and descendents of the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Belsen, to “move on? Would he dare to?
Instead he tried to reverse the psychology by saying that Britain’s wiping slavery "off the face of our planet" should be remembered. Well Mr Cameron it is remembered alright, but so is the 271 years between 1833 and Captain John Hawkins’s first known English slaving voyage to Africa, in 1562, in the reign of Elizabeth 1, perhaps the real start of British imperialism!
And just in case he is suffering from amnesia, let me remind him that Hawkins made three such journeys over a period of six years, he captured over 1200 Africans and sold them as goods in the Spanish colonies in the Americas. Mr Cameron Britain’s abolition of the slave trade in 1807 and of slavery in 1833, does not absolve you of guilt, merely it is a mitigating argument for mercy in the final judgement!
It should also be recalled that upon the abolition of slavery, Britain paid £20 million, the equivalent of £17bn in compensation money to 46,000 of Britain's slave-owners for "loss of human property". Your own ancestor General Sir James Duff received the equivalent of £3 million in today’s money. But no reparations for the sufferers: is that justice?
None the less you are rightly proud of the part played by British abolitionists in the destruction of chattel slavery. We laud the efforts of Wilberforce and the Clapham sect, but Africans did not stand idly by in the march to manumission. The amelioration of our condition was achieved just as much by the bravery of Cudjoe and Nanny, Paul Bogle and Sam Sharpe, remember them? By the eloquence of Olaudah Equiano and activism of Ignatius Sancho, yes Africans played a huge part in achieving their own freedom.
Certainly 1807 and 1833 were dates to be celebrated and remembered by all, but so is 1884/5. In case you forgot, that was the time of the Berlin Conference. Following Stanley’s charting of the Congo River Basin, which removed the last “Terra Incognita” from European maps, it was open season on Africans once more: the European race for colonies was on!
Let us state unequivocally that Britain was in the vanguard of that race, and were only too willing to engage with the other invitees at that conference hosted by Bismarck, with the intention of the peaceful carving up of Africa!
In short you replaced chattel slavery with colonialism, slavery at home, only this time you captured the Africans, their homelands and the resources therein! Britain became “Great” during this period but you want us to “move on!” Britain “filled her boots” - free labour, free land, free gold & diamonds, silver, copper, rubber. Everything free except for the Africans at home and in the Diaspora, they were not free. Yes, you abolished slavery but reintroduced it under a different guise - colonialism - but we should just “move on!”
You state that you want to concentrate on future relations rather than centuries-old issues, and you want to do this by giving Jamaica a grant of £25 million for of all things to build a new prison! That should endear you to the people.
“The African Holocaust” - yes, that’s what it was - has left an economic, psychological, socio-political, and cultural scar on all people of African descent, whether they know it or not! There is a very definite legacy of slavery that is preventing all people from “moving on”. There has been no repair for our 400 years of trauma. To quote Gladstone, no irony intended, “justice delayed is justice denied”.
Britain should do its part in helping us to “move on”
Khareem Toussaiint Jamal