Burt's Eye View: Scourge of slavery

PUBLISHED: 12:01 29 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:43 06 May 2010

A contemporary etching depicting the horror of the Zong

A contemporary etching depicting the horror of the Zong

THIS week I am speaking at a press conference with the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone at Free at Last? an exhibition exploring the history and legacy of the European Slave Trade, much in the news at present. We are speaking on a replica of the slave sh

THIS week I am speaking at a press conference with the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone at 'Free at Last?' an exhibition exploring the history and legacy of the European Slave Trade, much in the news at present.

We are speaking on a replica of the slave ship the Zong which will sail up the Thames. The Zong is the infamous ship from which slaves were thrown overboard so that the owner could claim compensation for the loss of his "property".

This replica will contain an exhibition of slavery and is organised by the Spirit of Wilberforce Project and the Centre for Contemporary Ministry, which is based at our own Moggerhanger.

Unfortunately, slavery has never vanished. Slavery is more than an act that physically enslaves a person, because it begins in the mind. It is an act of oppression and domination springing from a perversion of the human spirit which, cruelly, can only value the freedom in one if it takes freedom from another.

Sadly, slavery crosses all human boundaries-race, faith, colour and nations. It is everywhere and takes many different forms.

There are a frighteningly large number of examples of people all over the world-children especially- starting as domestic workers and being put into bondage and slavery, or being fooled into taking a job and then finding themselves forced into prostitution.

In 2006, the United Nations estimated that more than 250,000 children were fighting as child soldiers. Many, if not most, were kidnapped from their homes and forced or brainwashed into fighting.

We are not responsible for the past, but we are responsible for what our children learn now. With an understanding of slavery, its rise, fall and rise again, they will learn that the attitudes behind it are not past attitudes, but present-day ones.

There is money to be made from exploitation and cruelty, so we should support those who fight against greed and exploitation where ever it arises. Our best response to the atrocities of the past is not to forget what happened, recognise what happens today and do whatever we can to help those who are fighting modern day slavery.


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