Mak­ing up for past?

The Herald on Sunday - - NEWS FOCUS CONTINUED -

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.”

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