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Do you take sugar?

Many British habits have been shaped from the fruits of slave labour. James Walvin considers black claims for compensation for slavery and hopes they will at least encourage an open discussion of Britain's central role

By James Walvin   February 1997

Demands that nations, or their political representatives, make public apology for the sins of their fathers are now frequently heard. The British have apologised, however indirectly, to some of the native peoples of New Zealand about land seizures. Second world war allies and conquered nations continue to demand apologies and damages from the Japanese. Last year, Germans and Czechs exchanged apologies for recent wrongdoings. This year, the 50th anniversary of Indian independence will stimulate critical scrutiny of British rule. Indian voices will seek more than the comforting British nostalgia for the Raj. The list goes on.

Few countries with a…

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