Sunday, February 06, 2005

400 Years! 400 Years!

Have been selectively reading bits of “Roots” by Alex Hayley.

A few years ago, I remember seeing an exhibition in Birmingham art gallery, some very simple large paintings. The first showed an anvil and some stakes above the ground but pointing downwards. Took me a while to wonder what this symbolised. Then it clicked, chains being made on an anvil, and the stakes forming the stockade of captivity. The second frame was equally moving. It showed Africa and America and the ocean between them And a ship in the shape of a coffin sailing from Africa to America with in the distance in Europe and old classical temple. The Atlantic slave trade was controlled and devised in Europe. And of the temple, yes, slavery was known in classical times. How did a continent that I love descend into barbarism from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries?

Perhaps, conditions of those enslaved for the Indian ocean slave trade where as bad as those for the middle passage of the Atlantic. Even so, and no I am not expecting the sins of the fathers to be visited upon the sons and indeed daughters, I see all too little repentance. Perhaps because some at least in Europe became wealthy on the slave trade and still are. And as for the continued existence of slavery…..

Cue 400 Years by his Bobness, Bob Marley.

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