Enslaved by Prejudice

PICTURE for a moment a grubby group of Arab-African itinerant penitents in sandals and hair-shirts as they make their forlorn way along the quaysides of Dar-el-Salem.

This public spectacle is to draw attention and register their shame at their country’s disgraceful history of slave trading several hundred years previously.

It is the stuff of fantasy and beyond parody or is it? This is exactly what happened in late August during Slave Remembrance Day in Absurdistan, otherwise known as the United Kingdom.

In Liverpool the annual city centre act of atonement ended at the Albert Dock; a dock built long after the slave trade was outlawed. There, a ‘traditional African libation ceremony ‘was held at the Pier Master’s House.

Each remorseful penitent wrongly claims that much of the city’s wealth was founded on the slave trade; profits from an estimated 3 million Africans transported to Americas’ plantations. The two day event, organised by Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum, included a memorial lecture delivered by Dr Maulana Karenga, Professor of African Studies at California State University.

What was unlikely to be included was any reference to the fact that many of the ships involved in this trade were owned and financed by persons as far removed from the city’s burgers and populace as were the Africans themselves.

I doubt too if mention will be made that the slave trade could not have existed without those multi-national ships being wholly supplied, not by European brigands but by African tribal leaders, who raided neighbouring tribes, and still do, for the purpose of providing their human cargoes.

The late 18th Century was a period of British history, the conditions of which led to many of the country’s desperately poor being transported as slaves too. There will be no mention of them at all. I have been to Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum and I believe it should be prosecuted under the Trades Descriptions Act.

It is not at all as it describes itself. It deals exclusively with slavery of a certain period, involving just one race, and affecting a very small part of the world. To ignore all but African slaves is repugnant racism.

It completely ignores the fact that statistically the Africans, mostly North Africans, catured and carried off more European slaves than were ever taken from Africa to be transported across the Atlantic. Then as now, slavery was an international grey area ‘conventional trade’; there was nothing at all unique in European involvement.

For centuries, Europe’s Mediterranean shores were ravaged and pillaged by African slave traders. These marauders even travelled up the western coasts of France and reached as far as England’s southern counties.

There, they raided coastal villages and towns and habitually slaughtered and enslaved the inhabitants.

The coastal communities of Europe’s Mediterranean still bear the scars of conflict, depopulation, poverty and slavery as a consequence of slave raids carried out by North African slavers. Defensive towers, turrets, forts and castles can be seen all along Europe’s Mediterranean coastlines. They were there for a purpose; to warn of and thwart African intruders.

Each of them is a silent witness; each a memorial to the hundreds of thousands of Europeans slaughtered and enslaved by Africa’s raiders. Those unfortunates were taken for a multiplicity of purposes, to serve their African captors. You will search long and hard to find any mention of them; they will be just as elusive, and forgotten as the slavery that has fouled the earth since those times. 

R.I.P Europe’s forgotten slaves and commonsense.

Photo credit: liverpoolmuseums.org.uk

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