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The BBC's latest attempt to play down the UK's role in slavery

19 108 192
01.08.2020

In July 2018, Nigerian journalist and writer Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani wrote an honest, captivating and illuminating article about how her late great-grandfather's life as a 19th-century slave trader shaped her life.

In the expansive essay published by the New Yorker, Nwaubani told intriguing tales about family, Igbo traditions, slavery and colonialism. She explained how her great-grandfather, Nwaubani Ogogo Oriaku, gained wealth and influence during the transatlantic slave trade era by selling other Africans and helping missionaries establish Christianity in Nigeria.

She also provided an honest and nuanced account of the conflicting feelings many of her relatives have about her great-grandfather's legacy.

She told us how her father once declared he could never be ashamed of the infamous slave trader. "Why should I be," she quoted him as asking, "His business was legitimate at the time. He was respected by everyone around."

But she also wrote about her relatives who see things differently. She told us about her cousin Chidi, who grew up in England and chose to keep his family's inglorious past hidden from his British friends. She also wrote about another cousin, Chiomia, who says she asks "God to forgive our ancestors" whenever she watches a film about slavery.

In the essay, Nwaubani underlined her family's efforts to break away from its painful and tainted history. She mentioned how in 1992, believing that they are being punished for the crimes of their ancestors, the community her family hails from chose to adopt a new name to reflect their "severance from the atrocities of the past". She also proudly described in detail a deliverance ceremony her family held in January 2018 to publicly denounce its role in the slave trade. "During the ceremony, I was overwhelmed with relief" Nwaubani reflected, "My family was finally taking a step beyond whispering and worrying."

According to Nwaubani's account in the New Yorker, her family resisted the temptation to accept their grandfather as a product of his times, took a strong moral........

© Al Jazeera