America’s celebration of black history takes place without fail every February. Well the Brits have October. Starting back in 1987, the black experience had been celebrated around the London Boroughs and has spread to other English cities. The month of October was selected because it coincided with other significant events such as the London Jubilee and Marcus Garvey celebrations.
Slave trading on all British vessels was abolished on March 25th 1807. It took another 26 years until all slavery was abolished in all British Colonies. Besides the slave routes there were several legal battles in parliament which started with the petition to abolish slavery in 1791. Birmingham and the West-midlands were the greatest contributed to the success of the slave trade movement in Britain. Birmingham’s merchants protested the abolitionists stating. The demise of the slave movement would cripple the nation.
The Quaker movement and various societies such as The Lunar societies had some involvement in the Slave trade whether steam engine suppliers for plantation owners or gun trafficking. One member, Mathew Bolton, of The Lunar Society was actually a strong supporter for the abolition. Back then, Birmingham was considered the “gun capital” of the world and supplied tribes with guns and ammunition for goods such as Diamonds and gold which was abundant in Western Africa. The enslavement of Africans was not specific to the British and European nations but also Africans. Many tribes as well as African countries took part in the trafficking of slaves for guns.
This accumulation of weapons and disloyalty to neighboring allied tribes would eventually lead to their destabilization. The parliamentary abolition of the slave trade in 1807 was commemorated by the Breaking the Chains West Midlands. The Committee was convened in 2006 by the black History foundation. The focus of this committee was to highlight the cities that played a significant role in the slave trade routes. Breaking the Chains has reached out to all communities and organizations hoping to raise awareness educate and commemorate the abolition of slavery in the best way possible.
“Breaking the Chains “is somewhat deceiving as the Anti Slave Trade act did get the ball rolling in the right direction; however the punishment mostly involved fines. Most traders ended up throwing slaves overboard in order to avoid these fines. Looking back the Anti Slave Trade Act was only one of the catalysts to the abolition of Slavery in Britain. One of the greatest and most influential impacts was the massive slave revolt on an Island known as Haiti in 1804.
Britain continued to prosper by using cheap labor by other means besides the bartering and capture of slaves. Britain had a successful venture in India, where indentured Indian servants were used for cheap labor. These indentured servants were treated no differently than African slaves.
There are various opinions out there regarding the importance or impact of one said events over another. Some people believe slavery is slavery and there is no disparity between slavery and forced labor. Let’s see how this year’s October celebrations fare.
source: Africana Online