Making up for past?
SO how does Scotland deal with the dreadful legacy of slavery? Historian David Alston says “acknowledging the past is the first step – it is only after that can you get on to the questions of reparations”. Geoff Palmer says that what would repair the wrongs of the past is a “country which is wealthier contributing to a country that helped make that wealth”.
So apology and then some form of compensation are now coming front and centre among those thinking about how Scotlands deals with its past. Graham Campbell wants to see schools and colleges in Scotland and Jamaica link up through student exchanges, for business connections to be forged – real concrete steps that will help improve education and lives in Jamaica, a country still living with the effects of slavery nearly 200 years after abolition.
For Hayman there is no going back and no hiding place. “We rewrote history to make ourselves look the good guys for abolishing slavery while blaming everyone else – well, now is the time for truth.”
He adds: “I like to think I live in a modern Scotland that is open-minded, free-thinking, liberal, tolerant, warm and friendly. Scots are loved the world over, but less than five generations ago our ancestors helped create and sustain crimes against humanity on an industrial scale simply to get stinking rich. This is an uncomfortable truth, but hopefully we can now find the courage and dignity to say we are sorry.”