Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Comment: Manchester, Cottonopolis and Slavery – Lets have a Parade…

'Going Global' for Manchester?
(This is a personal comment and not representative of the views of Hulme or Manchester Green Parties.)

Sunday June 22nd 2014 is the annual Manchester Day Parade. The theme this year is ‘Going Global’, looking at Manchester  ‘from Roman fort to Cottonopolis to world class 21C digital city… the original modern city Going Global!’

Cottonopolis’ was the period of time when Manchester became a wealthy and powerful city on the back of the cotton industry. The same cotton industry that was built on the backs of slaves and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

While Manchester is proud of many things that can be celebrated as part of a parade, ‘Cottonopolis’ is NOT one of them. It’s an inappropriate subject for such an event. On social media there has been several calls for Manchester City Council to reconsider this part of its festivities but these calls have fallen on stony ground. The lack of response is notable as, despite the Labour Council having 100%of the seats and the mix of ethnicities in Manchester, it  has NO councillors of African Caribbean descent.

The Manchester Evening News in its article “10 reasons for Mancunians to be proud ahead of Manchester Day” says that ‘despite the livelihood of the city and its people depending on cotton, it was Mancunians who campaigned to abolish the trading of slaves from Africa.

Well that’s nice but that discounts the nearly 250 years of English involvement in the slave trade and Manchester was a major beneficiary. And to be clear, we’re talking about actually real life slavery on an ‘industrial’ scale, not the slightly unsavoury tv version. Millions of people were shipped across the oceans and its estimated nearly 2 million died during transportation alone, some of whom were thrown overboard on purpose so slave ship captains could claim on their insurance for ‘lost property'.

Cottonopolis is one of the first ways Manchester  went ‘global’, its not the type of thing you celebrate by throwing on a costume (unless its supplied by Sainsburys) or decorating a ‘float’.

I, for one, will not be going.

Deyika Nzeribe

(Manchester activists are putting on an alternate event 'Understanding Reparations' Sunday June 22nd 4pm, WIOCC, Manchester).
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