Writings of the general word's body

Monday, December 11, 2006

Royal Geographical Society

I attended a symposium on Slavery at the Royal Geographical Society, London, on October 31. It was organised by Black British Heritage, a community group working to create awareness about contributions made by people of African descent to the history and prosperity of the Britain. The organisation, a charity plans to be very involved in next year's 200 years' anniversary of the abolition of slavery on the British Isles.

Many issues on Slavery debated on the day. The Royal Geographical Society was a place when, in the heyday of Slavery, English adventurers and 'discoverers' came to display the goods and trophies they had brought with them from their traves. The 'goods' included Africans in bondage. (As it happens, an exhibition of West African Mud Architecture, Butabu by James Morris - taken on his traves in Senegal, Benin Republic, Mali and Northern Nigeria - was on display in another part of the building. I interviewed Morris and wrote about the same exhibition, held at another venue, back in 2004)

As I walked around the Royal Geographical Society on the day, my thoughts were on ages past. And looking for the merest echoes of painful history, these were the sights that caught my camera's eye.
  • Wooden figure guards the 'Minstrels' Gallery;
  • The second photo, on the stairway, points the way to the lavatories;
  • The fellow in the 3rd photo looks away from you whilst you're in the toilet; and
  • One of the Zanzibar Chests on display.

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