This month’s Turner Prize reminded us of some nasty things in our history. Colonialism, or ‘Robbery with violence’, as Joseph Conrad described it, and our awful role in slavery. The 2017 winner is art professor Lubaina Himid. According to the BBC, the judges praised her ‘uncompromising tackling of issues including colonial history and slavery’. But shouldn’t we wonder why this part of our history needs to be highlighted again, especially in an art competition? The Atlantic slave trade, colonialism and their legacies are already well known (though perhaps not to Turner Prize jurists). And you don’t need to be ‘uncompromising’, original or controversial to attack the bloody, terrible parts of our history which already have no defenders. It’s a safe option. Who would disagree?

Giving too much weight to familiar subjects doesn’t help us understand history, and crowds out less known stories. Many of the institutions which watch over our culture – the BBC, universities, schools and the arts establishment – have helped create a distorted view of ourselves and of earlier worlds by failing to show that our previous crimes were once fairly normal. There have been many systems of slavery and too many empires to count. All empires, from antiquity to the Japanese or Soviet imperialisms of the 20th century, have been based on bloodshed. Anyone surprised to learn that we were not uniquely wicked has not been taught enough history. While we can’t evade the evils in our past by pointing to those of others, singling us out doesn’t make for good history.

Has Professor Himid missed a chance to broaden people’s knowledge of other equally important histories through linking to a side of her own heritage? Although moving to the UK as an infant, she was born in Zanzibar, now part of Tanzania. For a period a Portuguese colony, it was for centuries either side of Portuguese rule a hub of the Arab slave trade, which preceded, outlasted and easily matched Atlantic slavery for cruelty.

As well as having its own domestic slave economy, Zanzibar was a base for raids into the African interior and a market for captives. Its harbour was the last place countless victims saw before shipment to the Middle East or the Indian subcontinent. It was a scene of misery and terrible violence. Professor Hamid’s choice of subject is of course legitimate and needs no one’s permission. Her birthplace means no obligation to deal with slavery in Zanzibar rather than Jamaica or Virginia. How interesting it could have been, though, for a Zanzibar-born artist to explore instead forms of slavery and colonialism which are unknown to so many people.

You can’t measure imbalances in public knowledge between transatlantic and Arab slavery or between the British and other, often worse, empires. But you can guess they are substantial. Yet many of the sources from which people get their history show little interest in correcting them. There is much on the BBC’s webpages about Atlantic slavery but Arab slavery is barely mentioned. Schools and universities do little better. You will find equally little on the complicity of Africans and African nations in slavery, a subject often euphemised almost to non-existence. Yet without enthusiastic African participation, mass slavery would have been impossible.

Omission in history is a powerful thing. Our educational system and media tell us about Nazism but don’t give similar treatment to Stalin’s murder camps or the Great Leap Forward. People who think Che Guevara is just the face on a cool radical poster, rather than the vicious murderer he was, won’t understand much of the modern world. You need history to understand politics.

But we so often lack it. When the Left campaigns to make Gladstone an ‘unperson’ because of his family’s links to slavery, or schools change their names to dissociate themselves from 18th century slave merchants, are they telling us something useful or have they missed important truths about how nasty so many nations have been when given the opportunity? Although this country learnt respect for human freedom and dignity in an uneven patchy process, we are no worse and often better than others. Saudi Arabia legally abolished full-blown slavery only in 1962, Mauritania in 1981. Even if not recognised as formal slavery, the gross exploitation and forced ‘ownership’ of human labour continues today. Probably most humans who have ever lived have been subjected to oppression in some form. From Russian serfdom to India’s caste system or indentured labour, few people in earlier times have been completely free.

We used to teach history that exalted imperialism, inflated our national pride and denigrated others. That was wrong. But now we have replaced jingoism with the equally false idea that our history (and the history of a handful of other western nations) was especially rotten. In truth, it’s humanity’s history that’s rotten, not just ours. Now that Britain’s practitioners of slavery and enforcers of empire are dead, we have no need to feel ashamed of ourselves. And we should all read a lot more history.


  1. Slavery existed for thousands of years, carried out by myriad nations across the world, until Britain became the first nation to abolish it. By force of arms where necessary.

    We should be proud that our country was the first to see the light and recognise that human dignity ought to be protected.

    • Britain was not the first country to abolish slavery. Denmark and Norway (which formed a united kingdom until after the Napoleonic Wars) abolished slavery in 1792.

      As the article said, we should all read a lot more history.

      • How active were the Danish and Norwegian navies after 1814 in suppressing the transatlantic slave trade as opposed to continuing to protect their own interests in Africa and the Carribean?

        In 1816 a joint Anglo-Dutch fleet under Lord Exmouth bombarded Algiers to force the barbary state to free Christian slaves and to halt the centuries old practice of enslaving Europeans. Between 1807 and 1865 the Royal Navy maintained a blockade of Africa to counter the slave trade. Both events seem lost in culturally revolutionised Britain’s froth over guilt and victimhood.

        • Note: More whites / europeans were taken to the barbary coast as slaves, than african slave to the United States..

          • Exactly.
            The book White Gold by Giles Milton is a revelation
            Why aren’t UK & Europeans suing Morocco & the mohammedan states for reparations ?
            Black Britons who kick up a stink about slavery make themselves look ignorant, or at least miseducated; and so reinforce racists who see all blacks (very wrongly) as dim.

          • I believe you, but can you point me towards a reputable source or two? I’d like to have them in my arsenal.

          • More whites likely were taken to North America as indentured servants (debtors, transported convicts, orphaned children being apprenticed), often destined to possibly be worked to death, than those who emigrated freely, if you really want to get down to cases.

          • That’s not the issue. The issue is that a goodly number of whites arrived in North America unfree, and many never returned to a free life either in the colonies or in Britain or Ireland, due to inhumane treatment, making the idea of the “limited duration” of their “terms of indenture” a hideous joke. By your differentiation of “treatment of whites versus treatment of blacks whilst in bondage,” you come awfully close to those who argue, “Well, East-Coast-of-Africa slavery wasn’t SO bad, if you compare and contrast to West Africa slavery.”

          • Of course they were, rape and violence have always been there under the slim patina of respectability. Once you introduce a master / servant relationship violence and rape occur naturally.

      • Ooh look miss! I knew something Johnny didn’t know! Aren’t I clever?

        And did that stop other nations from carrying on with slavery? Did they have ships off the coast of West-Africa deterring other nations from transporting slaves? How great was the effect on slavery overall, if indeed what you say is true. The British Empire’s stance against slavery was the reason that it finally became unacceptable across most of the world (aside from Muslim nations perhaps).

        • I seem to recall that Denmark may have abolished slavery earlier than Britain, but it was only half the truth. Transporting slaves across the Atlantic became illegal. Weren’t the Danish colonies allowed slaves if they ‘reared’ them from stocks already in the colony?

          • Well, I haven’t done any major research into it, but after Royinsouthwest’s comment I had a quick look in wiki (I know, not always the most most reliable site, but life is short), and it seems one or two European powers made half-hearted attempts to abolish it (France was named), but it seems clear to me that Britain was the main driver for Western powers to enforce abolition completely.

          • Where were the Danish and Norwegian slaves, or in what places did the Danes and Norwegians interfere with the slave trade?

          • Colonies of St Thomas, St Croix and St John. They lasted until 1917.
            As for Norway, it was in union with Denmark for some 400 years

          • The US Virigin Islands were a Danish colony until after the First World War when Denmark sold them to the United States. At one time Denmark also had a fort on the Gold Coast, modern Ghana, from where slaves were obtained, and a colony in India. Greenland and the Faroes now have home rule but their relations with foreign countries are still controlled by the Danish government.

          • In both British and Danish colonies slavery continued for a while after the trade in slaves was abolished.

        • Gosh don’t you know a lot! The article is about history and Ollie Wright concluded it by stating that we should all read a lot more history. It so happens that I have had a long interest in Scandinavian history and therefore I immediately noticed a mistake in one of the comments and so I corrected it.

          If I made an error and somebody spotted it and corrected it I would be grateful. Some people do learn from their mistakes. Some even learn from mistakes made by other people but there are not many people in that category judging by other comments repeating the incorrect claim that Britain was the first country to abolish slavery.

          • I think you are just another left-wing sap who likes to diminish the positive role played by Britain in history, and worse, you probably know that our nation was instrumental in stopping slavery across the Western world but you can’t resist a gripe at anyone who points it out.

      • Did Denmark and Norway send out ships specifically to stop the slave trade and keep them on watch for long periods of time and at significant expense?

        • Of course their decision counted as far as slaves in the Danish Virigin Islands, now the US Virgin Islands, were concerned. You remind me of those Americans who think that the Second World War did not start until the United States got involved.

  2. British slave traders did not have to go into the jungle to find their unfortunate merchandise. They bought them from other Africans who caught members of other tribes. The WI and Nigerian communities do not seem to be too fond of each other. The reason may be because they are different culturally and racially after hundreds of years rather than because your great grandad sold my great grandad.

    • You’re correct, of course.
      However,only if you count, as I do, arabs as africans.
      Most slaves were originally kidnapped by africans, and those not required were sold on to mohammedan arabs.
      The men they wished to retain were castrated, those that were surplus to requirements were sold on to Europeans intact.
      The whole ghastly business continues to this day in african & mohammedan lands.
      The British Empire abolished slavery 150 years back & Queen Victoria’s black
      god daughter married a black British Royal Navy Captain who was tasked with others to
      harry arab slavers & release their victims.
      I’m proud of the British Empire, despite some obvious flaws & even atrocities.
      Compared with other empires it was benign, hence the good relationship we still have
      with our ex colonies.

  3. The current trend has less to do with historical realities than with history being weaponised to serve a modern political agenda of inciting racial tension and infused with the cult of victimhood. Those elevating this woman are virtue signalling to distance themselves from a manufactured sense of guilt.

    Much of the racism, sexism and ageism currently directed towards all living white men because of some dead white men, too often with official sanction, is utterly disgusting and demonstrates just how bogus the whole schtick of “equality and diversity” really is. Selective equality, selective diversity and the collision of misplaced vengeance and guilt as stoked up by the divisive left – as usual.

    • What is conveniently forgotten is that dead white males created modernity, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty ignorance and disease

      That others didn’t is of course only because they were ‘oppressed ‘ by the aforementioned.

      Or so it says in this leftist textbook I have here,

  4. I heard the interview on radio 4 ,she clearly resents the UK , not a good word to say.what is shocking is that the BBC always promotes those who seethe with resentment.

  5. The Left doesn’t really mind slavery, just when whites do it!
    Its not what they say, but what they don’t say.
    Not what they do, but what they don;t do.
    The sin is to allow them to lie to you that they didn’t know the sins of others…..”but I didn’t know”……….reply “its called google and my search answers are the same as yours….”

    • You mean Britain, or the United Kingdom, not England, and you are wrong. As I pointed out below Britain was not the first.

  6. Earlier this year, a Professor Jonathan Brown, of Georgetown University, delivered a lecture in which he condemned slavery. That would be the slavery practised in the United States and the British Empire. Arab slavery, said Professor Brown, was quite another matter, not really bad at all. Mohammed owned slaves, you see, and he was perfect, so it stands to reason that islam’s version of slavery is without fault. The muslim version of slavery includes women held as sex-slaves and, yes, Jonathan Brown defended that concept, too.

    Jonathan Brown occupies the Al-Waleed bin Talal Chair in islamic civilisation at Georgetown. Oh, and he’s a muslim, but perhaps you guessed that.

    • Of course, anyone who thinks that an argument from authority is invincible (as at least two CW readers do) must now agree that slavery is acceptable, because Jonathan Brown says so and he has a PhD and is a professor.

      • It’s difficult not to rely on authority when expressing an opinion. As John Maynard Keynes remarked about econmic matters, ‘Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist’.

        Now there’s an argument from authority, if you like !

        He’s right, though. It is very rare indeed to hear a genuinely original thought. Most people are trapped by their cultural conditioning which limits their intellectual horizons.

  7. It is impossible to posit on matters of hundreds of years ago and to do it in general terms to the broad public. Even in my lifetime changes in society mean comparing social issues decades apart are incorrect.

  8. The Turner prize is usually explained by looking at the judges, This year is no exception. The whole caboodle reminds me of the story of a flea making love to an elephant, the elephant is unaware, feels nothing and, if it sits down, will crush the flea.

    • There’s a good analogy to cricket here, in that a good bowler will vary his delivery. Just as in the Turner prize, having piles of bricks or rows of policemen on a video each year does wear thin after a while…..

    • The Turner Prize can be best explained by looking at the art.

      Without the intellectual scaffolding erected around it to try and invest some meaning in it, most of it is trash.

  9. Does anyone really give flying fig about the Turner Prize? Or the incestuous brown nosing that is the ‘arts’ today? All shall have prizes.

    • Not all.
      Only those fashionable with the Arts Council or whose products are useful for
      money laundering or vulgar display by the mega rich.

  10. Probably one of the best written and most valuable articles to appear on this forum for a long time. Very well done.

  11. Our progressive historians never mention that the Crimea was the center of the Islamic slave trade for Europe. Slaves from Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and other parts of Europe were taken there to be sold around the Islamic world. This came to an end in 1783 when the Russians conquered the place. I have never seen a programme on the BBC about this

    • > Our progressive historians never mention that the Crimea was the center of the Islamic slave trade for Europe.

      And before Ottomans, the place was owned be the Genoise and the Greeks. Whites trading in other whites – you can still create a self-flaggelating story from that. But nah.

      • Do you know what ‘Jiyza of the Blood’ means? Eastern Europeans do, they are taught in school.

        And by the way thanks to Obama they are now selling slaves in Libya. $400 for a black slaves, cheaper than an Iphone.

        • I am a Eastern European (Russian). No, ‘Jiyza’ was not mentioned in our school curriculum (I was attending school in early 90s, after the Soviet collapse). This was never practiced in the Eastern Europe, but Balkan Slavs – Serbian, Bulgarian, Bosnian – are probably well aware of it.

          The biggest topic in Russian schools is Mongol-Tatar yoke ( ).

          > And by the way thanks to Obama they are now selling slaves in Libya.

          No Obama, but Hillary – she was a driving force behind the invasion. But “reintroducing black slavery to Africa” is not something that can scare away Dem supporters from voting her for president.

        • Jiyza of the blood I take it means the Devshirme system, where there was a regular cull of children to serve the Muslim masters of the Balkans.

          Slav parents would mutilate their children to avoid this slavery.

          It’s this history which helps to explain the ferocity of the Balkan wars against Muslims there.

    • The Vikings traded slaves down the great Rivers of the East to the Muslim slave markets in Ukraine, the Crimea and Central Asia.

      There was a slave market in Kiev at the corner of the Main Street and Slave Street.

  12. The slave trade, or the history of slavery has been the subject of such massive revisionism that it hardly bears any real resemblance to the truth.

    Massive parts of it have been completely glossed over, while other smaller parts have been blown up out of all recognition to the facts. Some parts are not even talked about at all ever.

    Take for instance the Barbary pirates which took over a million white Europeans into slavery in the Muslim world. The village of Balitmore in Ireland was taken in its entirety never to been seen or heard from again, and although the descendants of the slaves taken to America or the Carribean are very much alive there are no living descendants of the white Europeans enslaved.

    Neither are there are there any of the Black African slaves taken in even greater numbers into the Middle East, their stories completely untold by the liberal Fascist Left who believe Islam to be beyond any criticism

    Today there an estimated 3 million people in slavery in the Muslim world, but again best not mentioned because that would be to insinuate that there is yet another problem within Islam. Not that the Fatwahs issued from the Meccan Mullahs which state that slavery is an intrinsic and inseparable part of Jihad will be allowed to get in the way either.

    Only the nasty white people can be guilty of any blame here.

    Not the Black people who enslaved the Black Africans, nor the Black overseers. in fact no one.

    The only people who can be blamed are the objects of the Fascist Lefts visceral hatred – white people, and especially white males.

    • I agree,the odious Left hate white males especially as they can blame us for all ills !
      I just wish we had a Conservative government which would start to re-educate our thick
      young ones who are more interested in X factor etc,

      • You are joking, the Conservatives have done nothing in the culture war.They have allowed the take over of public institutions by rabid social Marxists. What was considered the loony left in the 80s is now considered Conservative Party policy.

    • “Neither are there are there any of the Black African slaves taken in even greater numbers into the Middle East”.
      I spent a number of years there and there are a lot of negro types in the population.

  13. Agree with every single solitary word.

    It’s time for educational curricula that don’t pander to anyone.

  14. Never commented on here before, but felt I just had to after reading what has to be one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time.
    An act of bravery in today’s Britain, to tell the truth, and stand up for ourselves.
    It’s high time the education system taught this as standard, although I doubt they will, as it’s not politically correct enough.

  15. Ignore the political psychoses of the BBC, and the sort of people who deal out gold stars like the Turner and Booker prizes to the righteous, and see the art for itself. I’ve never seen an original Hamid but the images I saw on Google were quite the opposite of the usual unidimensional chained representations of Black history and the allegedly one-way crimes of White colonialism. Her figures, either in the paintings or as cut-outs, are joyous, elegant, riotous with colour and pleasing geometric patterns, peacock people in contrast to our usually drab European selves. I prefer by far Hamid’s optimism in enduring Black humanity to the iredeemable, paranoid embitterment of people like Ta-Nahisi Coates who is the current god of self-flagellating white American liberals. Creatively if not interpretatively, the 20th century was consumed culturally by a vile aesthetic of ugliness and nihilism. Hamid’s paintings, reversing Dorian Grey, tear that false face off modern art and celebrate light over darkness. We should thank the Turner jury for an uplifting choice of winner.

    • Well, except for 1853-1856 war, when Britain allied with France to help the Ottoman empire to fight off the Russians and keep those pesky Southern Slavs enslaved for fifty more years.

        • Yeah, yeah, I know. Russians were very keen to free the Southern Slavs – and also Bosphorus. All while putting a Pan-Slavic nationalism bomb under the Habsburg Empire. Realpolitik and all that. No hard feelings.

          It tarnishes the French and the Brits still – allying the Muslims to keep Christians enslaved.

  16. Alinskyism, impure and evil.

    Himid is just another patsy elevated beyond belief – and parody. Himid, like many other fellow members who worship at the altar of PC, where polarized spectacles and selective moral outrage is an industry and that’s before we get onto a certain monotheistic creed which synopsizes, daubs, preserves and inures the right of hegemony and where only servitude will be wrought.

    Hypocrisy is, in its essence amoral but they cannot sense it, or choose not to but in all of it, really how numb does it get or, how do they live with themselves? Which leads down and down, then cultural Marxism taken to the Nth degree…………. that thought begets a frightening chill – right down to the marrow. Stone hearts who refuse to see and power mad for its own sake and bereft of all humanity – only brings hate, death and on the scale of genocide, but it is hard not to foretell it – society’s veneer is but a patina, this nation is structured on the foundations of; lies, monumental waste, giving away billions to those who’ve just arrived, piling up and growing debt and ever bigger deceits (the EU) – it will implode, logic cannot be denied forever.

  17. Realising that a young relative knew virtually no history (they left school, after GCSE, 5 years ago), I asked what they remembered about their history lessons at school. Nazis and the slave trade was the reply.
    Incidentally, an ancestor of mine, an Anglican clergyman in the 19th century, went with his family to India for a few years. On their return their ship put in at Zanzibar, where they rescued a little slave girl and took her back to England. She remained with the family for the rest of her life, mainly as a nanny to successive generations of children. She was over 100 when she eventually died.

  18. The fixation of the Left with black slave trade has a straightforward explanation. Black communities in Western countries are continually underperforming comparing to any other major racial group. That statistics invalidates the cornerstone of progressivist thought, that of the malleability of humans.

    The topic is of particular importance to American progressives, but Europe, which is many regards a cultural colony of the USA post-1945, have to struggle with the issue as well.

    The Left has to find a valid explanation for the achievement gap because there’s always that OTHER explanation: inherent biological differences that can’t be fixed with any amount of social engineering. Accepting that OTHER idea will blow up the progressive narrative to shatters.

    Their previous explanation (pre-1960) was systematic racism and segregation. 50 years later, after the devastating effects of state involvement into the lives of American blacks, the new explanation is needed – “economic underperformance of American Blacks is caused by the history of the Black slavery”.

    Saying that it is “unfair” to reduce the history slavery to Atlantic black slaves trade (the word “slave” itself came from “Slav” – modern-day Russians/Polish/Ukrainians, who sold and bought traded for 2000+ years) is useless. The Left doesn’t care about slavery. It cares about rationalising continuous underachievement by Black communities in a way that will allow them to keep “tabula rasa” intact.

    • Yep. I would only add that playing into that (and aggravating it) is that the US left had to have a better story since their welfare programs have made the situation of American black almost immeasurably worse than it was in the 50s. In effect they have re-enslaved them on the government plantation through making welfare almost their only method of making a living. Along with all the things we speak of (although in a British context) here.

    • This is my opinion in just about every detail. Political Correctness is a system of lies which refuses to acknowledge the blindingly obvious because it would destroy the basis of modern leftism.

      Despite the untold billions wasted in the USA with such programmes as ‘No child left behind’ and the fact the the educational environment otherwise is pretty much the same for black children as for others, there have been no gains in black reading achievement in 50 years and no increase in mean black IQ.

      The pernicious outcome of the ideology of equality is the cultivation of unwarranted resentment and frustration on the part of low achieving blacks and others and the injustice that deserving non blacks are denied opportunities and positions thanks to enforced proportionality in the world of work, education and elsewhere.

  19. Happily the internet exists, so when African and Arab countries talk about the slave trade, we can now say “White people abolished it, first in our territories and then it yours, where we could. What did you lot do? Oh yes, bugger all.”

    • Besides petty and/or pedantic and/or historical arguments about who did what first, the impetus to abolish slavery has certainly been European, then later American in origin.

      No early attempts to abolish it are recorded outside of Europe AFAIK

  20. The Turner Prize is no longer awarded for art, but to simply give aid and succour to the delusional attitudes of academia and the left.

  21. Spot on.

    Britain was the first to abolish the slave trade and – importanty – we also enforced that ban using the Royal Navy.

    Bashing Britain is now the norm despite the massive contribution Britain has made in the past by freeing Europe of dictators and tyrants several times over the last 200 years and our introductiion of law, education and enforcing peace around the world.

      • No I don’t read the other comments first. The revolutionary French may have voted against slavery first but like many French intentions they were words only.

        • I must admit I don’t always read all the comments relevant to a point I want to make either. Sometimes it is because of my eagerness to make my point and other times it is simply lack of time, especially on topics that attract as many comments as this one!

      • They didn’t work very well tho’ did they? You need a big stick to enforce law and we had the Royal Navy to provide the necessary force.

        • Not all slave trading involved transport of slaves by sea.

          Some more local abolishing of slavery, centuries or millennia ago, actually worked quite well.

          What the dominance of the Royal Navy, plus the will of the Christian Nations both Catholic and Protestant to put an end to slavery internationally, achieved was to practically allow forcing those who had no desire to abandon slavery to obey the enforcement of this policy.

          The victory of the Republican/Northern side in the US Civil War helped tremendously too of course.

          Portugal had made multiple attempts to try and abolish slavery from the 16th Century onwards, but with mastery of the seas contested between the Spanish, British, French, Dutch, and themselves they weren’t even able to stop their own Portuguese slavers from carrying on as before …

  22. On the subject of the slave trade by Africans, here is an extract from the 1974 book: ‘Race’ by the Oxford Biologist John R Baker FRS:

    ‘Nowhere in the world’, says Schweinfurth,’has slavery been so thoroughly engrafted and so widely disseminated as in Africa; the earliest mariners who circumnavigated its coasts found a system of kidnappng every where established on a firm basis, and extending in its business relations far into the interior of the continent. De Chaillu states in relation to salvery in Gabon;

    ‘Its existence has no connection at all with the foreign slave trade. There were slaves here long before a barracoon slave-depot was built on the coast…Slavery has an independent existence and is ruled by laws of its own…from the seashore to the farthest point in the interior which I was able to reach, the commercial unit of value was a slave.’

    A negrid King complained to him of the English who were the cause of the stagnation of the slave trade. Samuel Baker who subsequently led an expedition to suppress the slave trade in the Sudan and the region of the Great Lakes wrote on this subject :

    ‘…the institution of slavery is …indigenous to the soil of Africa and has not been taught to the Africans by the white man as has been reported but …has ever been the peculiarity of African tribes

    Livingstone describes how the King of the Balunda would organise and expedition to pounce on an unsuspecting village in his own territory, kill the headman and sell every other inhabitant to a Negro slave trader, or of some were too old to be useful as slaves, they were murdered lest they should become troublesome by resorting to magic to avenge the attack on their village.’

    Slavery was indigenous but foreign traders undoubtedly greatly increased its extent. ‘All the best slave hunters, and the boldest most energetic scoundrels were the negros who had at one time themselves been kidnapped’.

    Schweinfurth gives an impression of the vast extent of the trade:

    ‘Year after year, one of the principal ‘kings’ of the Azande, Mofio by name, yielded up thousands upon thousands of slaves to foreign traders. He did this by raiding tribes in the surrounding territory, and also by simply handing over members of weaker tribes that had already been subjected to his rule.’ (John R Baker: 1974 pps 364, 365)

    • Something tells me that John R Baker will never become standard reading in our education system, and the likes of Schweinfurth and De Chaillu will never get a mention either.

  23. CW home of whatabootery. Her art looks ok to me, unlike most of the Turner prize stuff which looks pure horrible. Britain was a hub of the slave trade. Many English people are descendants of slaves. Because there was an Arab slave trade out of Zanzibar doesn’t mean that our own involvement in the slave trade was any less shameful. But it’s a free country, if you want to make art highlighting the iniquities of the Arab slave trade get your paint box out and get on with it. What a bunch of bedwetters.

    • > But it’s a free country, if you want to make art highlighting the iniquities of the Arab slave trade get your paint box out and get on with it.

      The only problem is, your freedom might end at this point, as you’d be sent serving time on “Islamophobia” charge.

      It’s not the art that is being discussed, but the shameless politicisation of it.

        • Nothing.

          The question, that Ollie asks in his article is: “But shouldn’t we wonder why this part of our history needs to be highlighted again, especially in an art competition?”

          • So what’s the problem? She’s black she’s from Africa. She can highlight exactly what she likes. We are, after all, a free country. I really like her stuff.

          • It’s not her who does the highlighting. It’s the jury.

            It’s one thing to publish Mein Kampf. It’s another to proclaim it the book of the year and give it a state-sponsored award and national publicity. First means you are living in a free society that allows all kinds of ideas, including the most weird ones. Second means you are in a serious trouble.

          • But the art is rather good. It is striking, it has a distinctive line and look, and it is thought provoking without being strident. It has a great deal of merit. What’s the problem?

          • Yes they are good. Nietzsche is taught usually as part of the philosophy syllabus. Hobbes and Carlyle in history. I’m not much familiar with Carlyle, but I enjoyed Hobbes’ Leviathan, and also like Nietzsche in moderation. I even made a pilgrimage to Turin to see the spot of Nietzsche’s final and catastrophic collapse. What on earth are you on about?

          • I am saying that art, philosophy, literature is one thing. State-sponsored art, state-supported philosophy, state-enforced curriculum on literature is another. That smells like the later. I know that smell well – it was everywhere in the USSR.

          • Gee, you are right! Another type of entities that are not related to the government in any way are NGOs – it’s in the name! Non-government organisations. Obvious. How did I manage to miss this? Thanks.

          • Year eleven student who smokes too much weed. Express yourself the art teacher cries as they rifle the girl’s schoolbag looking for a joint.

    • ‘Many English people are the descendents of slaves’ ? Really ? Back in Roman or Anglo Saxon times perhaps ?

      Serfdom was a form of bondage, but not slavery. Serfs had rights which they could exercise against their lords.

      Blacks etc aren’t of course ethnically English.

        • there’s no such thing as ‘racism’ Sean, if you think I’m wrong then write me a definition which works, and which everyone agrees with.
          I can guarantee you can’t, and by the way you can perhaps include how snow is racist ?

          • Classical racism is a belief that every member of one “race” (a vaguely defined identity group) is better on some arbitrarily defined traits (that are proclaimed to be the only traits that matter) over any other member of another “race”.

            The modern definition of racism by progressivism is “tempting omnipresent demon that sometimes posses white people and can be banished – although only temporary – through the acts of public self-flagellation and wealth transfer towards non-white people”.

        • Yes it’s racist if one is English but not at all if one is any other ethnicity.

          Thats just one of the many stupid Doublethinks of leftism.

        • No more racist than a painter negating her own rotten coloured heritage by accentuating our rotten white heritage.
          Always the same with minority ethnics, there is never a guilty plea, always innocence presumed because they are a bit thicker than us, although the committee must have been pretty thick too, or at best desperate for something to nominate to get a headline in a national paper to remind us they still exist.

          • Can’t you understand it Sean, will I send you a link to a dictionary?
            Here goes. White man bad, but darkie who did the same not bad because he thick and not responsible for him actions. So darkie woman can paint all she like about bad whitey and not paint bad darkie things cos her people not know they do bad.

    • By what moral standard is slavery ‘shameful’ ? Certainly not by those of Greece or Rome, or Islam whose ‘perfect man’ and example, Mohammad, captured, owned and traded slaves, including black slaves.

      Mohammad had interesting views as to whether female captives could be raped. Yes, they could be, he decreed.

          • ok here you go. She doesn’t have a point. Professor Himid’s art portrays slaves in all kinds of settings. There is no comment on who enslaved them or why. She shows their diaspora and loss of identity and self. She is saying that slavery is dehumanising. Only in the feverish imagination of CW can this be construed as anti British. And the comment about Mohammad is sheer whataboutery. What really does it have to do with anything. The early Christians kept slaves too, and that is equally irrelevant.

        • Do you suppose that should you lack the artistic ability that the winner so obviously lacks and presented a piece featuring the slave docks in Zanzibar that your piece would have been considered or immediately rejected.
          The work is crap and won the prize to rub our artistically uneducated noses in it.

        • Britain’s involvement in the slave trade lasted from around 1580 to 1805. Can you name any country in the world that did not engage in the slave trade or have slaves on its territory during that period?

        • And yet you only looked at the element you liked without considering both sides. Your argumet was unbalanced to suit you. Rather marks you as a Lefty.

    • Britain’s part in the slave trade isn’t the only dunghill she could have painted in a vain attempt to be controversial with her naive waste of canvas and paint. If she wished to be really controversial she would have admitted her own country of origin’s complicity in the trade of human beings and painted that particular dunghill and admitted that she too through her heritage was guilty of slavery just as they paint me guilty through the accident of the location of my birth. She could have called in Je suis slaver and really raised a few eyebrows, there again she is a person of colour, always innocent.

        • Yes I have, I did so before I commented, and if I wanted an expert opinion I would show it to my BA (Hons) and MFA degree son who could critique it far more eloquently than I can, and probably still come up with crap to describe it. If you know anything about the art world you will know it is corrupt. Money my friend, corrupts all that comes in contact with it, and the art world is no different and probably worse than most subjects.

          • Not a fan then. I rather like it. Wouldn’t mind acquiring some of her stuff actually. First time I’ve ever thought that about a Turner Prize winner. Mind you I once, to my great regret, turned down the opportunity to buy a Tracey Emmin line drawing cause I didn’t like it.

          • Very wise for not buying something you didn’t like. If you only buy art to speculate you make a mockery of the whole subject.

    • It must really burn you when some women start expressing their opinions on the internet, and they come out all different and conservative, and not what you told them to believe at all.

    • Yes anyone can make art about slavery. What she doesn’t recognise or acknowledge is the great wealth, the freedom and the security that the country she complains about has given her.

      Far easier to whine, petulantly about slavery yet ignore the incredible freedoms she has. It’s all about her. All about her own arrogance. An arrogance that she can indulge because the country allowed her to. Frankly, a little gratitude for her freedom would be nice.

      Same as your own acceptance that slavery also ended in the UK first. Other nations continued it. It was and is past. For many nations it hasn’t ended because they still beleive they’re entitled to special treatment.

  24. As usual instead of proper analysis the likes of Hamid just strike postures against windmills – not a breath about how the British Empire patrolled the high seas to stop slaving when it was abolished in the colonies – especially against Arab slavers and curtailed fresh enslavement by that policy.
    Hamid is of course just ignorant. The easy attack on the most liberal society in the world – the UK.

    • > Hamid is of cousrrse just ignorant.

      Her “ignorance” just brought her £50k. Spitting on British history pays off.

        • It is hard to express how exactly the piece of art affects the viewer. It is rather obvious from this very thread, that a number of people understood it in this way. Hence – it is there.

        • She rather ignores that without the trade, without the industry based on it, without the wealth it created and the subsequent emancipation it resulted in, she would be grubbing potatoes in the third world.

          She looks at all the bad things she can whine about while ignoring the massive lift up and freedom it has brought her.

  25. Most discussions about the Atlantic slave trade ignore or are ignorant of the fact that Africans were sold to the Whites by other Africans – for a few shiny beads presumably.

    • The cruel irony of this is, descendants of slavers, who arrived to America over the last fifty years are now getting their degrees at top Universities, thanks to the affirmative actions programs implemented to assist the descendants of the slaves.

      Because they share the skin colour.

  26. One of the best articles I’ve read anywhere for some time. I keep having to point out to people when they start on about European imperialism that there have been many forms of imperialism and the Arab variety was a far more brutal form of it as bad and all as European imperialism was.

      • It is thought that 6 out of 10 boys bled to death as a result of this procedure.

        Many more died on the long trek across Africa to the slaver markets of the Middle East.

        One estimate of the total enslaved, taking into account the high mortality rate, is 80 millions.

        The Arab word for slave, ‘abid’ , became a colloquialism for African, just as ‘Slav’ became ‘slave’.

  27. She could have written about modern day slavery in the UK but as that mostly involves immigrants using their own countrymen/women as slaves then this would not have been compatible with the liberal narrative that white men bad, everyone else is good.

  28. The Turner prize has obviously become another victim of the virtue signalling liberal left.
    Many things in our history can be vilified today but our moral values have progressed over the centuries and to equate our values today with those of our past is a fruitless exercise.
    Some of us in the west have learnt from or mistakes and carried our civilization forward but others have not.
    Better to concentrate on them.

  29. I really am not interested in hearing the bleatings of foreign social justice warriors regarding a practice that was legal a few hundred years ago. End of. Oh, and we put a stop to it once and for all in our part of the world. I suggest the Arabs do the same now.

  30. The horrible Hirsch woman with her self publicising harangue about Nelson omitted to mention the behaviour of the Ashanti of her mother’s country, and possibly, tribe. Hypocrites all.

    • It’s easy to complain about things gone past. No one lives to defend it. For people like this Hirsch perpetual whinging is easier than actually doing something – such as creating jobs, or ending currently slavery around the world.

      Complaining, safely, in a comfortable, free, rich country – that pays her to spend her time indulging her demagogery is far easier.

  31. The British Empire did more to advance and improve the lot of mankind than any other organisation before or since.
    Uncompromising but not on trend.

    • Quite right, of course. The actions of the past should be judged on the norms of the times, not those of contemporary politically motivated groups. By those standards, the British Empire emerges as a civilising force unparalleled since the Romans.

      Of course, there were blemishes. There could hardly be otherwise, given the length and extent of this huge Enterprise.

  32. My admiration for Orwell grows and grows. He nailed it back in 1948. History is written by the ruling class to buttress their power.

    The current ruling class is cultural marxist, globalist and has in the last 25 years taken over the West. The continuous rewriting history (e.g. slavery, immigration) is to control us better and secure their grip.

    The only Western leader standing against the cultural marxists is President Trump … oh boy how he is reviled on the BBC every day, almost every hour. May jumps at very chance to criticise him. Yes this is how far it’s gone.

    The Turner prize just another cultural icon they have grabbed to use as a weapon against the people.

    • History is written by the ruling class to buttress their power

      I’m sorry, but I really must disagree with you.

      First of all, History is not written by those whom you accuse, nor is “the ruling class” necessarily in such a position of power as to impose North Korea style ideological conformity upon everyone.

      Orwell condemned the very collectivist & absolutist totalitarianism that the Jihadi “warriors”, the Atlantic slave traders of all nationalities, and the various Kim Jong Morons, the KGB, the Mass Media, and all other sources of tunnel-vision blinkering of the intellect have in common.

      Whereas any honest History as such is always written by those who resist these sorts of narratives, and it has been since at least Athenian Antiquity.

      • ‘The victors’ you mean? Usually you find that the victors are the Right having fought against the Left – we always win because to give in is to accept annihilation. The difference is those victors allow a different view – and there are many.

        Were the Right like the Left then there would be no discussion nor even reference to the miseries of communism or socialism. No consideration of alternatives to their doctrine.

        History is written by the victors, but be thankful that the victors are often sensible, capable, motivated essentially free men, who don’t wish the destruction of man, merely to prevent the Left doing so.

  33. “Ollie Wright is a Local Government officer who left school at 16”

    And who very carefully doesn’t specify which subject he received his OU degree in – which tells us that it had bugger-all to do with history.

    Still, what he lacks in specialist knowledge he makes up for in holding strong pre-prejudiced (and oh-so-predictable) opinions.

    Which is the closest the Right ever gets to informed commentary. I.e. not very close at all.

    • “Ad hominem – attacking the arguer instead of the argument.
      Poisoning the well – a subtype of ad hominem presenting adverse information about a target person with the intention of discrediting everything that the target person says.
      Abusive fallacy – a subtype of ad hominem that verbally abuses the opponent rather than arguing about the originally proposed argument.
      Appeal to motive – a subtype of ad hominem that dismisses an idea by questioning the motives of its proposer.”

      “It is … a fallacious ad hominem argument to argue that a person presenting statements lacks authority and thus their arguments do not need to be considered. As appeals to a perceived lack of authority, these types of argument are fallacious for much the same reasons as an appeal to authority.”

      • All well and good, were it not for the inconvenient fact that your post is one of the most grotesque examples of ad hominem that I’ve seen in years.

        To be fair, bobworth’s post is indeed quite rubbishy. But it’s motivated by political indoctrination, not arguments against the man as such.

        Sorry for my excessive pedantry, as I do actually agree that his ludicrous comment needed to be attacked.

        • Last Friday’s University Challenge for alumni had UCL and Edinburgh with teams of mainly youngish elite leftys who were editors and artists who think Brexiteers are thick and need to be deprived of the results of referenda.. One was a BBC Today editor.
          They scored very poorly and were eliminated. My wife and I answered 8 unanswered or wrong questions. They could not even spot Wagner as a composer. The final should be good, with scores of 135+ from Lord Matt Ridley’s team. ( Who? Oh, he’s a lukewarmist- horrors- attack attack)

    • …then do please give us the benefit if your own informed knowledge of the subject. You’re clearly an expert.

    • Which suggests that you believe that the only people capable of holding an opinion and voicing it are those qualified in the subject, but then the only opinion they are allowed is in that particular discipline!
      Given that our Universities are hotbeds of left wing ‘thought’ and ideological subversion it therefore follows that you believe only left wingers are to be allowed to express their opinions!
      I would point you to the BBC favourite Marxist historian professor Mary Beard and her duplicitous disagreement with UKIP donor Arron Banks in which she felt she had to oppose his view and statements on the fall of Rome comparing it to the fall of the EU, so she began the usual name calling and disagreement but at the heart of it when the layers were peeled back she was unable to contradict the truth he had spoken. It didn’t stop her trying though, and using language which would deceive the ignorant.

    • And there you go, hurling abuse because you disagree.

      Where is your analysis? Rational critique? Of course, much easier to attack the messenger because your own weak – I assume non-existent – arguments won’t hold up to scrutiny.

      You just hate, blindly, miserably. Seek help for your bigotry, hatred and mindless spiite.

    • How typical of the left. You ignore any facts that don’t fit your agenda, such as the fact that he has a first class degree (a first class degree, of any type, shows an ability to absorb and analyse facts). Rather like Professor Hamid in fact. No surprises there then.

      • A first class degree from the Open University, earned in one’s spare time, is proof of a tenacity and dedication undreamt of by most of those who go to ‘Uni’ full time these days.

    • Oh yes, ‘cos the Left have the monopoly on informed commentary, don’t they? LOL, as the kids say.

      Care to point out a single inaccuracy in the entire article? I won’t hold my breath.

  34. Slaves were very expensive assets and only the richest white people could afford them. It makes no economic sense to buy an expensive asset and then not look after it. Pure self-interest, if nothing else, demands that you keep your ‘asset’ in good condition. Most tales of cruelty to slaves are utter rubbish. In any event, the punishments meted out to ordinary English people (e.g. hanging for stealing a handkerchief – an actual example) were worse than anything done to slaves.

    • Actually, at least in America, they weren’t until the prohibition of the slave trade, in 1809, coupled with the invention of the cotton gin, made cotton a worthwhile crop. That prohibition, enforced by the Royal Navy, did make them expensive, to the point that they stunted the growth of the American south to this day. The same punishments (and worse) were inflicted on slaves, the main difference was due process.

  35. No, no, no, you don’t understand Mr Wright; all references to non-transatlantic slavery, the complicity of Africans and the many good things that came of Empire must be erased from history. And it’s all whitey’s fault. Got that?

  36. I like to remind those of African ancestry in the US and the Caribbean that without the slave trade they would probably not have been born.
    Slaves were not captured by the traders but were captives of other tribes resulting from the constant inter-tribal warfare, and would have been killed had it not been profitable to sell them.
    They became a valuable asset to those who bought them and probably lived a safer life than they would have done if they’d stayed where they were. Certainly any mistreatment they received as slaves is unlikely to have been worse than if they hadn’t been captured.

    • Those who are the descendants of slaves should thank their lucky stars their ancestors were enslaved and shipped across the North Atalantic.

      By far the majority of them are far better fed and housed, are healthier, are better educated, have far greater opportunities and lead a much more affluent and civilised existence generally than they would if they were now living in their ancestral territories.

      • Quite. I have been told by several (black) US army officers, who served in Africa, that they thank God every day that their ancestors got kidnapped out of Africa. Their life, and their ancestors, has been far better than it would have been if they had remained there.

  37. The British involvement in the slave trade was comparatively short and we put a stop to it ourselves ,The Arab slave trade was already well established with black Africans selling their own people to the Arabs and it continues today . A book was written as late as the 1960s ‘The Slave Trade Today’ which gives a shocking account of slavery in Africa and Arabia as personally investigated by Sean 0’Callaghan . He described slave markets where castrated young boys were for sale to Arabs with particular tastes .
    The slaves purchased for the Atlantic slave trade were the ( comparatively ) lucky ones . Two out of three slaves were men for work in agriculture . Two out of three slaves bought by the Arabs were women for use as sex slaves . The male slaves were routinely castrated and any offspring produced by the women were usually killed .
    There are millions of descendants of slaves in the west who are able to make a fuss demanding that we westerners apologise for the actions of our ancestors . There are none or very few in the Islamic world .
    More than 2 million white European slaves were captured by the Muslim Barbary pirates with whole villages being captured on the coast of England and Cornwall .
    Slavery is religiously sanctioned by the Qur’an and will never end until Islam is no longer a power in the world .

  38. The leftie elites voted for him because to those precious idiots the “other” and the foreigner are always superior to the ordinary white Brit who they despise.

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