Slavetrader decendant to wear yoke and chains to make Africa slavery apology

Written by Ebrima Jaw Manneh (in the Gambian Daily Observer)
Wednesday, 31 May 2006
Mr Andrew Hawkins from Plymouth, the United Kingdom, who claims to be a direct descendant of England’s first slave trader, Sir John Hawkins, will don yokes and chains at the forthcoming Roots International Festival in The Gambia to apologise for the actions of his famous ancestor.
He will be joining the lifeline expedition team, which has been journeying around with whites wearing yokes and chains while Africans and descendants of enslaved Africans accompany them. The Africans are also ready to apologise for selling their brothers and sisters to the European traders. This action is also a means of raising awareness of ongoing slavery and racism at the present time.

Sir John Hawkins is well known for his part in the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1587, but it is well known that he made slaving voyages with the support of Queen Elizabeth 1 between 1562-1568, sailing in ships such as the Jesus of Lubeck and the Grace of God.

The International Roots Festival commemorates the legendary Kunta Kinteh who according to a novel by Alex Haley was captured at Juffereh in The Gambia and held in the slave fort on James Island until he was transported to Annapolis in Maryland, USA, in a London slave ship, the Lord Ligonier. The lifeline expedition team aims to have representatives from the four European nations, Germany, Holland, France and England who at different times held slaves in the fort. They will kneel and make an apology in the yokes and chains in the fort.

Response to Europeans chained and yoked in a coffle like slaves

White people walking as penitent in chains through former slave ports such as Nantes, Bordeaux, Seville, Lisbon and Charleston South Carolina created considerable interest. They walk not as symbolic slaves; instead, the chains and yokes are the walkers’ chosen symbols of their penitence. There has been wide media coverage, but most importantly, this prophetic action has been well received by descendants of enslaved Africans. In France "Enfin!" was the most common word used. "At last, now we feel that white people are taking our story seriously. Thank you, but so much more needs to be done." Africans walking in the procession in attitude of forgiveness point to the potential for real reconciliation in the future.

Leader of the lifeline expedition, David Pott comments: "The Senegambia region is, of course, a most important region as far as the slave trade and its legacy is concerned. The roots of the system are located here because it was the closest region of Africa to Europe where substantial numbers of Africans were taken captive. The legacy of slavery is still much in evidence in terms of the ongoing poverty in Africa today. I am thankful that in spite of centuries of European oppression, Africa is not bowed down and contributes so richly in our world today. In order to heal historical wounds we must go to the roots, so I am very glad that we are able to come and take part in this significant Roots International Festival. We pray that we will be able to make our contribution in bringing healing and reconciliation." That is why we are coming here. (Story from The Gambian 'Daily Observer')


Post a Comment

<< Home