World Council of Churches -
Contact: + 41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
For immediate release:
22 March 2007
Slave trade still demands an unambiguous apology, Kobia says
"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 UK prime minister Tony 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 16 March, the letter refers to the upcoming bicentennial anniversary of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which Britain and the Commonwealth will mark on Sunday, 25 March 2007.
In his letter, Kobia also reminds the UK prime minister - 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.
The full text of the letter is available at:
See also the website set up by Churches Together in England to commemorate the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act:
Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.