World Council of Churches Demands Apology from Blair on Slave Trade

|PIC1|Prime Minister Tony Blair has been told by head of the World Council of Churches (WCC) that the people of Africa are still waiting for an "unambiguous apology" and "acknowledgement" from European nations over their participation in the atrocities of the slave trade 200 years ago.

"People of African descent in the diaspora and in Africa await an unambiguous apology and clear sign from European nations that acknowledges their participation in this terrible part of colonial history" that was the slave trade, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev Dr Samuel Kobia has told Blair.

While appreciating that Blair has had the "courage to remind people of this tragic part of the colonial history," Kobia says he hopes that under the Prime Minister's leadership, European nations can "begin a process of truth-telling, repentance and reconciliation in order to promote an honest and open dialogue in relation to the scars left [...] as a part of the colonial legacy".

Dated March 16, the letter refers to the upcoming bicentennial anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, which Britain and the Commonwealth will mark on Sunday, 25 March 2007.

In his letter, Kobia also reminds Mr Blair - after having done the same earlier with the Archbishop of Canterbury - of a dream cherished by the late renowned British missiologist and ecumenist Bishop Lesslie Newbigin.

After visiting Ghana's Elmina Castle - a medieval fortress where slaves were held captive in dungeons before being forcibly shipped to America - Newbigin wrote about his desire that "some representative Englishman - an archbishop or prime minister - might come to Ghana and go down into that dungeon, kneel down on the floor and offer a prayer of contrition".

"Perhaps this bicentennial year of the abolition of the slave trade is the right moment to heed Bishop Newbigin's admonition," Kobia suggests.

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