My Random Thoughts

Location: United Kingdom

A Naija Guy living (and loving) in the UK.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Last Slave

If like me, you have a large number of "socially conscious" friends who forward you email messages that they think you will benefit from ie what to do to claim money from Microsoft, avoid going to the west end this weekend for fear of terrorist attacks etc - you would have received an email in the last couple of months asking you to watch "The Last Slave" on Channel 4 (I got the email about 4 times). If you received the email and missed the show, don't worry you are probably better off for it.

The email read -
To mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, Channel 4 have made a programme called The Last Slave which follows a young, black Londoner called David Monteith as he traces the story of his ancestor, Archibald Monteith. Archibald was one of the few slaves to leave an account of his life, giving his descendent an opportunity to understand his ancestry and his experience of slavery. The programme follows David on a powerful and moving journey to Jamaica and then to Nigeria as he confronts the reality of Archibald's life.

The Last Slave will be broadcast on Channel 4 at 8pm on Sunday March 11th. You can really help us by emailing friends and contacts and spreading the word about this documentary. It's important to us that this programme , which is an inspiring and important story marking a major anniversary, reaches as many viewers as possible.
Thanks for your help and I hope you enjoy the programme and continue to engage with and support our factual output on Channel4.

Ralph Lee Commissioning Editor, History Channel 4 Television Tel. 020 7306 6960 Fax. 020 7306 5539

I sat infront of my TV set promptly at 8pm hoping for some kind of exploration of the nature of slavery and its lasting effects in the world today. I expected some kind of objectivity, I sought to be educated on the nature of this blight in world history, I wondered if channel 4 had a fresh new perspective that could help the healing for this wound which 200 years later still festers and causes pain. Instead Channel 4 choose to outline its own perspective to Slavery by painting it as an ill that pre-existed the European slave traders who purely exploited it for financial reasons and further how Britons were unaware of the horrors of Slavery and once enlightened, campaigned vociferously to end the lucrative slave trade.

While David says in the Last Slave that "the truth is seldom black and white", the documentary seemed too much like the "white" version to me. If this is the first salvo on british TV in the commemoration of 200 years since the Abolition of the Slave Trade on March 25th 1807 (This was NOT the abolition of slavery itself which was not ended until 1838) then I worry about what is to come.

In a world where across the Atlantic Barack Obama is feeling the effects of being discriminated against by other blacks in the USA, as he isn't a direct descendant of Slaves, where Al Sharpton is coming to terms with being a direct descendant of the prominent segregationist politician Strom Thurmond, where Tony Blair is still unable to apologise for Britains role in slavery, where some of our greatest academics argue that Europe is responsible for "underdeveloped" Africa, it is disappointing that that Channel 4 couldn't come up with a whole lot more to stimulate debate.

See what had to say about the last slave here. Or click here for a preview of the documentary.