Friday, March 02, 2007

Marching to apologise

Senior diocesan clergy willbe joining a march whichcovers parts of Lincolnshire, to mark the 200thanniversary of the abolition ofslavery.The Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd DrJohn Saxbee will join the March of the Abolitionists as it passes through Lincoln. The march begins in Hull – thebirthplace of reformer WilliamWilberforce – on 1 March. White walkers, accompanied byAfricans and descendants of enslavedAfricans, will don yokes and chains andattempt a journey of more than 250miles to London recalling the gruellingjourneys of enslaved Africans, during theperiod of the Atlantic Slave Trade. This multinational team will togetherbe dealing with the legacy of the slavetrade as it affects our culture today.Their penitential action, appropriatelytaking place in the season of Lent, willalso draw attention to the estimated 12million people still in slavery today.The journey will end in Westminsteron 24 March when the team will join theWalk of Witness, led by the Archbishopsof Canterbury and York, which will be amajor event passing significant sites inSouth London with three specificallyliturgical moments of remembrance,repentance and restoration.This pilgrim Walk will provide all thosemaking this journey with a particularfocus as they remember the lives ofmany Africans lost on their journey onthe slave ships and through hard labouron the plantations.Unlike the enslaved Africans who werebought and sold as chattels, the pilgrimson this walk are doing it by choice.“As Lincolnshire folk have good reasonto know, the Vikings have a lot to answerfor,” said Bishop John.“Not least, they were the first toengage in slavery.“Of course, they were not the first tocapture people and deprive them oftheir freedom, but it was when theVikings did this to the Slavs that theword slavery first came into commonusage.“For a further thousand years thepractice of slavery was widespread inmany parts of the world, but it was JohnHawkins who has the dubious privilegeof being the first English slave-trader in1562.“He was later knighted by QueenElizabeth for his lucrative enterprise.“There is naught for our comfort incommemorating the slave trade, andmuch to make us ashamed.“But the primary focus must be on afuture when all are at liberty to fullyreflect the image of God, whose serviceis perfect freedom.”