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The Gambia, Africa

By 25. June 2006 Africa No Comments

At the end of May we flew out to the Gambia as part of a team with David Pott to be involved with a slave-trade reconciliation movement called “The Lifeline Expedition”. You can read the background to this work and the reports from the last 6 years here ♥ Some of you may have seen various reports on the television and in the newspapers re our time in The Gambia as it caused a lot of response both positive and negative.

…… and the rest of the story

The team were giving apologies for the western and Christian involvement in the Slave Trade to governmental figures (including the Vice-President of The Gambia and dignitaries from other West African countries)-in a stadium at the start of the “Roots” Festival.

In our team we had people from the Diaspora, Africans from several different countries as well as having most of the European countries who were involved in the slave trade represented. The apologies given in the Stadium (and that received the widespread media coverage) were mostly received positively, with the Vice President herself responding to the apology whilst others cheered. Many, afterwards, came up to thank and embrace us, including Bob Marley’s widow who said she’d never heard white people apologise before and was very moved. John Hawkins was the first Englishman to take a ship from England to the West coast of Africa to capture the people there and take them as slaves across to the West Indies. In our team we had a direct descendent of John Hawkins, Andrew Hawkins, who was one of those giving an apology..when he told the crowds in the stadium who he was and repented on behalf of what his family had perpetrated it was very powerful and many came up to him afterwards saying they had been waiting for this apology and thanking him. Those who were against what we were doing were a vocal minority who seemed to be outraged that anyone should say sorry. There was anger also that saying sorry wasn’t enough but they weren’t prepared to listen to hear that the lifeline project is doing all the different things that they were calling for…our words fell on deaf ears in this instance.

There is much more that we could say about where we went and what we did but this report would be very long..if you have time, please go to the website as mentioned above.the extensive work that is being done through the Lifeline is amazing and it needs all the support it can get (Financial, practical, prayers etc.).Next year there will be celebrations in England to mark 2oo years since the abolition of the slave trade..yet there are moreslaves today than at any time in history..

June 5 – Visit to Juffureh and James Island Today we visited the village from which Kunta Kinte is believed to have been taken. We were in a very public situation at the fort on James Island where representatives of European nations who occupied the fort knelt to confess their nations’ roles in slavery.

June 4 – Inter-faith service at Roots Festival June 3 – Leading the Roots Festival  June 2 – Preparation & Welcome Reception June 1 – Preparation & interviews As well as more team time, we checked out the route of the Reconciliation walk on Saturday. May 31 – Preparation as a team for the various events. May 30 – Team assembled in Banjul.

This was not the first time that Martin had spent time in this part of the world. In 1999 he lived for a couple of weeks with the Mandinka people of the Gambia learning from a master drummer. You can read about this story here.

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