As you may be aware, this year marks the 200th anniversary of the British parliament legislating to make slavery illegal throughout the Empire.
However, before we get too self-congratulatory, we should remind ourselves that slavery went on relentlessly for hundreds of years. Which is about as long as the BBC has been banging on about it; or maybe it just seems that way.
Although to be fair, with the blizzard of slavery programmes on across the radio and television and on all of the channels, the BBC has given us a very good idea of what the relation of the slave to his master must have been: ie impossible to get away from.
But the main issue we must consider, is, is it time to issue an apology? Well, personally, I'm not generally in favour of today's politicians apologising for something that happened hundreds of years ago for which they had no responsibility; however, in this case, with no sign of contrition or attempts to make amends by the countries responsible, I think it is time to apologise and offer compensation.
After all, we must remember that hundreds of thousands of people - some estimate more than a million - were taken into captivity under the most barbarous of conditions. These are my people we are talking about. Yes, for many hundreds of years, those living on the south coast of England (whence once I came), and more particularly in France, Italy and Spain, whose population was essentially white and Christian, fell prey to the Muslim raiders from the Barbary coast of North Africa. Some say that entire areas of these countries were completely depleted of their populations by the depredations.
Although it is interesting to contrast this example of slavery to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Were there, for example, tribal leaders in, say, Devon and Dorset, who would send raiding parties into the interior of their lands to capture their own kinsfolk to sell to the Barbary slavers? There weren't, as far as I am aware. But, if there were, would it not be to them that descendants of slaves should look to first for any compensation they consider they're due?