Afua Hirsch: ‘Do not unload historical past with slave hyperlinks – use it to teach’

Afua Hirsch

Afua Hirsch

Picture caption

Afua Hirsch at Elmina Citadel in Ghana

A presenter of a brand new documentary about slavery has rejected the concept of promoting artwork and artefacts with hyperlinks to the commerce, to compensate descendants.

“I do not assume the wise technique to obtain reparation is to unload nationwide heritage,” Afua Hirsch stated.

“I would like individuals to see it and interact with it. The extra accessible it may be, the extra it may be used to teach.”

The author and broadcaster is fronting Enslaved with actor Samuel L Jackson. The sequence begins on BBC Two on Sunday.

Picture caption

Samuel L Jackson and Afua Hirsch each found their roots on the present

Hirsch, who writes a column for the Guardian and penned the e-book Brit(ish): On Race, Identification and Belonging, instructed The Radio Instances: “I am not about destroying historical past in any respect. I would like individuals to see it and interact with it.

“However I do really feel fairly vital that till now these items have been held in a means that neither educates nor enlightens us about our colonial historical past.”

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She was responding to a query concerning the Nationwide Belief, which has recognized 93 properties with connections to colonialism and historic slavery. Hirsch stated she applauded the organisation, however that their collections ought to be used to inform a extra full model of historical past.

She added on Twitter that the interview “ignored the half the place I stated the quantity owed in reparations MONUMENTALLY exceeds the quantity that may very well be raised by promoting off Nationwide Belief collections”.

Hirsch, who was born in Norway however grew up within the UK, added that the controversy concerning the legacy of slavery was “not about beating ourselves up, it is about understanding how we obtained right here”.

Enslaved used new diving expertise to find and look at sunken slave ships within the UK, the Caribbean and Florida, retrieving artefacts corresponding to a big ivory tusk 45 miles off the coast of Devon. The four-part CBC/Epix sequence has already been broadcast within the US.

The transatlantic slave commerce noticed European international locations together with the UK visitors round 12 million individuals from West Africa to the Americas between the 16th and 19th Centuries.

Hirsch additionally filmed with Jackson in Elmina, Ghana, one of many main slave buying and selling posts in what was then generally known as the African Gold Coast.

She added that historical past taught in British colleges ought to acknowledge the nation’s position within the slave commerce relatively than simply rejoice its abolition.

It’s not obligatory for colleges to show concerning the slave commerce, however academics can select to incorporate it when protecting British historical past from 1745-1901 at Key Stage 3, for pupils aged 11-14.


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