Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Blogosphere Cookie Monster, Politics and Slavery.

Last night, after a hard day's work, I applied myself dutifully to updating the scintillating details of my weekend adventures..............after hours slaving over a hot keyboard, what happened??? Someone in cyberspace ate my post. Yes honestly. So, now here ich bin, trying again.

Saturday consisted of a morning wasted on the phone trying to sort out arrangements for my impending house move, though I redeemed myself with an afternoon delivering in the biting cold and driving rain (noble or what) and an evening spent at Yasmin's palatial pile with a selection of her journo/writer friends, one of whom had previously complained about politicians being boring since all they chatted about was politics.............thus I found myself in the taxi repeating to myself the mantra "don't talk about politics", "don't talk about politics" "don't talk about politics". The irony was that it wasn't me wot started it, honest! Soon the whole assembly was at me, fiery darts flying, Simon and the Bermondsey by election (you have to be of a certain age to still be banging on about that), Lib Dems in particular and politicians in general..............I felt like the naughty schoolgirl (well metaphorically of course I was never naughty at school), it wasn't me miss!

Sunday comprised of getting up very late (listen, I am a granny two late nights on the trot is impossible!), doing my dutiful bit of delivery and then off to my niece's 6th birthday party in Lilley village hall (Lilley is a pretty village just across the border from Luton in Hertfordshire). This made it easy for me to get down to Luton Town Hall for their commemoration of the abolition of slavery held in the council chamber.

It was a wonderful event. Highlights for me being the presentation by my friend and fellow Lib Dem, Pauline Stepney, on the history of slavery in Bedfordshire, and the rendition of Oh Freedom by the Luton Gospel Community Choir. What will stick in my mind is Pauline speaking about her maiden name, Duncan. A name acquired by her not so distant ancestor by his slave master, a name which has denied her access to her own heritage.

What drove the abolitionist movement forward was their imagination and their appeal to the grassroots. Josiah Wedgwood created a seal for the movement – a kneeling slave in chains, surrounded by the legend, “Am I not a man and a brother?” It rapidly appeared on coat buttons, hatpins, and women’s jewellery, and was probably the first logo ever specifically designed for a political movement.

I know there is dispute about Wilberforce and his role in all this, but, the letter sent to him by John Wesley,eight days before he died, still ranks for me as one of the most inspiring letters I have ever read:

Dear Sir:

Unless the divine power has raised you us to be as Athanasius contra mundum (against the world) I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be fore you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.

Reading this morning a tract wrote by a poor African, I was particularly struck by that circumstance that a man who has a black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, can have no redress; it being a "law" in our colonies that the oath of a black against a white goes for nothing. What villainy is this?

That he who has guided you from youth up may continue to strengthen you in this and all things, is the prayer of, dear sir,

Your affectionate servant,
John Wesley

What beggars belief is that we live in a world where slavery not only still exists, but is accepted and colluded with by the western world. As someone once said, "History repeats itself, it has to, no one ever listens".

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