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Great Britain must beg pardon for slave trade

Published: 
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Israel Khan

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace, United Kingdom

I respectfully call upon Your Majesty and the Parliament of Britain to offer an historic and sincere apology for the British participation in the enslavement of Africans: apologise to Africa and the African diaspora throughout the world for the cruelties your nation inflicted upon the enslaved Africans.

British merchants, we all know, had been the greatest slave traders in the 18th century. William Pitt, the younger, in the House of Commons, stated: “No nation in Europe has plunged so deeply in this guilt (slavery) as Great Britain.”

Your Majesty, it is interesting to note that Britain, after 72 years, had recognised on June 22, 2017, the memory of the servicemen and women from Africa and the Caribbean who served alongside the forces of the British Commonwealth and her Allies during World War I and World War II.

One would have thought that the occasion of the unveiling of the first ever memorial structure on June 22, 2017 in London honouring the black people who fought for the British and Allied forces in World War I and II was a great opportunity for “Great” Britain to offer a formal and official apology to Africa and the African diasporas throughout the world for Britain’s participation in African Slavery—the darkest chapter in the history of mankind. But this long and overdue apology was not forth coming.

Your Majesty, I am quite aware that a nation cannot turn back the hand of the clock of history and your nation’s participation in the African salve trade and slavery must be judged by that particular period of history of mankind: but it is not too late to officially and formally announce, on behalf of your great nation, that Britain is contrite and sorry and thus “beg our pardon”.

The leaders of your nation must not bury their heads in the sand as the proverbial ostrich in the hope that with the passage of time the African diaspora throughout the world and especially those residing in Britain and its former colonies will forget your nation’s cruelties inflicted upon their forefathers. The Jews, wherever they may find themselves, will never forget the cruelties of Adolf Hitler, and the African diaspora will never forget European (including Britain) cruelties to their forefathers.

Your majesty, I state the above because in 1823, the then leader of your Parliament, Fowell Buxton on the topic of the abolition of African slavery stated in your Parliament:

“…..slavery will subside, it will decline, it will expire, it will burn itself down into the socket and go out…we shall leave it gently to decay—slowly, silently, almost imperceptibly to die away and be forgotten…”

Your majesty, Britain’s participation in the transatlantic slave trade will never be forgotten by the people of the Caribbean and elsewhere and thus I humbly and sincerely implore your majesty and the British Parliament to do the civilised and decent thing—beg our pardon by offering once and for all an official and formal sincere apology—on behalf of your nation. Say you are sorry.

Your majesty should note that the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is the only county in the world which has declared the abolition of African slavery by Great Britain a national holiday: “Emancipation Day”, which is commemorated by its peoples on August 1 each year.

It is also of interest to note that our first prime minister of independent Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Eric Williams postulated and conclusively proved that Britain abolished the African slave trade and slavery when it was no longer profitable to your nation: the economic reasons were more pronounced and prominent that the humanitarians reasons.

Your majesty, I respectfully crave your indulgence to remind you that your namesake, Queen Elizabeth I, cemented the African slave trade and slavery in which over 40 million men, women and children suffered inhumane and barbaric treatments. I dare say that your majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, must at least say on behalf of your nation “we are sorry and we beg your pardon”. Demonstrate that your nation possesses the spiritual and moral values to admit its wrong deeds. It is a sagacious call for atonement: apologise to Africa and the African diaspora for the barbaric atrocities your nation inflicted upon Africans over the period of 400 years.

One would have thought that the occasion of the unveiling of the first ever memorial structure on June 22, 2017 in London honouring the black people who fought for the British and Allied forces in World War I and II was a great opportunity for “Great” Britain to offer a formal and official apology to Africa and the African diasporas throughout the world for Britain’s participation in African Slavery—the darkest chapter in the history of mankind.

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