Durban and after
Portugal's representative at the Durban conference stated: "It would not make much sense for the Portuguese democratic regime which decolonised and created non-racist society, to accept responsibility for the errors of that past. This would be like holding the current South African democratic government responsible for the crimes of apartheid."
Even if the statement is accepted at face value, then why did the Portuguese president Mario Soares, formally apologise in 1982 to the Jews for their expulsion from Portugal long before Portugal's overseas expansion and slavery?
The statement loses validity with the precedent established for the Jews which is at the root of the international dispute concerning apologies.
Antonio de Figueiredo
What about the Arabs?
The demands for restitution for slavery have been very selective. If the 400-year European and North American involvement in the Atlantic slave trade is to attract compensation, then why not the 1,400-year Arabic involvement in the slave trade in north, central and east Africa?
If the Atlantic slave trade, which Europe outlawed in 1815, was fit to be discussed in Durban, then surely the ongoing enslavement of black Africans by Muslim-Arabs in Sudan today -- even with government approval -- should have been a priority focus of the conference.
It also seems most unreasonable to ask Britain for reparations for that nation's disgraceful involvement in the slave trade, considering that it was Britain which first abolished the trade and put in measures to abolish it worldwide, including using its navy to patrol the high seas.
For anyone to demand of Britain a further apology betrays an ignorance of history. I would venture to say that this present claim for restitution is motivated, not by a sense of justice, but by pure greed.
If the Durban conference were serious about racism, it would have tackled the blatant racism of President Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and the ongoing state-sponsored slavery in Sudan.
Dr Peter Hammond
Cope Town, South Africa
Having read the story about slavery in your July/August issue, I want to remind all black people outside Africa that they are Africans and I am willing to host any of them who would like to check his or her roots,
Kintu Drake Guloba wa Gadunya
P O Box 1343
Mobile: 077 657 738
Will the Union work?
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