It has happened in Australia. “We are sorry” for the sufferings inflicted on the Aboriginee population. Ken Livingstone apologised for for slavery of African peoples on behalf of Londoners. Liverpool has set up a museum on behalf of the nation. A video of the Prime Minister’s address shows large numbers of people of all backgrounds inside and outside parliament looking deeply moved. (Source Guardian 14/2/2008).
Jesse Jackson visited Birmingham on his travels and very politely said it would be much appreciated from Birmingham, UK. Nothing happened so I issued an apology as a former councillor and cabinet member of Birmingham City Council. I challenged the present leaders to make a stand. The reaction? Adrian Goldberg raised it on “The Stirrer”. Since then the line has gone dead.
Still there is a difference between “sorry” and meaning what you say. Even more so understanding the sheer scale of what happens under colonial rule both then and now. The truth is it is not a past sin because colonialism continues apace in one form or another. Its effects on the colonised are described most effectively in with writings of Frantz Fanon.
Leaders in Birmingham haven’t uttered a word because they don’t begin to understand. Don’t particularly want to. All main parties continue to operate a voracious system where economics comes first. They may claim that the economic wellbeing of the City or the state is a precursor to the comforts of all citizens, but the figures of who is getting the best deal suggest a continuing hierarchy. Access to education, health services, being stopped and searched admission to prison, you name it a persistent pattern emerges. Is this unrelated to colonialism? Hardly since those high in the ratings are people whose families originate in former colonies. To quote Sivanandan “we are here because you were there” when asked what he was doing in Britain.
Anyway as far as it goes Australia has set the pace. Its leadership has been changed because its people have said “no” to war. It’s new leadership has taken a different line to its indigenous people showing a little respect. It helps. It helps a lot.