Edward Colston was “chief executive officer” of a company responsible for enslaving more Africans than any other in British history, the historian David Olusoga has told a court, as defendants argued they acted “lawfully” in toppling his statue.
Appearing on Thursday as an expert witness in the trial of four people accused of criminal damage of the memorial to Colston, the presenter of the BBC’s A House Through Time series described the horrors of the trade.
Rhian Graham, 30, Milo Ponsford, 26, and Sage Willoughby, 23, are accused of helping to tear down the statue of the slave trader during a Black Lives Matter protest on 7 June last year. They are standing trial alongside Jake Skuse, 33, who is accused of helping to roll the bronze to Bristol harbour where it was thrown into the River Avon.
Olusoga, a professor of public history at the University of Manchester, said that while Colston was a shareholder in the Royal African Company it shipped 84,000 Africans into slavery, including 12,000 children. Overall, he said, the company “transported more Africans into slavery than any other company in the whole history of the slave trade in the north Atlantic”.
The RAC didn’t actually enslave people. It bought slaves. This is not necessarily a huge moral difference but it is a factual one. Those purchased and shipped were already slaves when purchased. That’s how they were purchased, see?
Further, the RAC was by no means the largest shipper. Not unless we’re going to rest an awful lot on that definition of “North Atlantic” it wasn’t. Claiming that the Bight of Benin counts – north of the Equator – and Angola doesn’t is the sort of casuistry we’d hope a historian doesn’t descend to.
But then, you know, Olusoga. The English are such bastards that he lives in England.
Why on earth is he appearing as an “expert witness”? How much of an expert do you have to be to know about criminal damage? What has he got to offer other than his opinion that it was actually OK in this case to commit that criminal damage? I could do that. Anyone could.
Given that he’s from Nigeria, I guarantee 100% that Olusoga’s ancestors owned slaves; probably until relatively recently too.
responsible for enslaving more Africans than any other in British history
Lol, based. Idk why blackademics keep reminding us their ancestors were losers tho. Maybe they lack the self-awareness to be embarrassed.
Rhian Graham, 30, Milo Ponsford, 26, and Sage Willoughby, 23, are accused of helping to tear down the statue
They sound like Rafes and Arabellas to me, so hang em all.
Presumably there is a jury. Calling Mr Olusoga helps define a narrative that the defence is hoping will make the jury look at the case in an emotional way rather than an analytic and objective way. The defence is trying to argue that it is acceptable to break the law provided the reasons for breaking the law are morally just.
Despite his name Olusoga looks about as Nigerian as Liz Warren is Cherokee.
A pointless exercise anyway, it’s a Bristol jury FFS.
‘Given that he’s from Nigeria, I guarantee 100% that Olusoga’s ancestors owned slaves; probably until relatively recently too.’
No doubt they were the ones selling them to the Royal African Company.
Of course I’d argue that since they were foreigners, it would have been wicked imperialism to refuse to purchase what Olusoga’s folks were so anxious to get rid of. Though one could convict the Olusogas of cultural imperialism, for forcing their custom of slavery on the Brits; who preferred to use indentured labour instead.
The defence is trying to argue that it is acceptable to break the law provided the reasons for breaking the law are morally just.
Precedent shows that to be true. It also shows that moral justice is left wing.
“The defence is trying to argue that it is acceptable to break the law provided the reasons for breaking the law are morally just.”
For a given value of “morally just”…
How do you pronounce his name? Oily sucker?
Didn’t the judge at the start of the trial make a point of saying Colston’s history was not on trial and not a factor in assessing criminal damage, in which case surely the defence trying to argue this is wasting the courts time?
Though given a judge previously let off a group that broke into an airport and chained themselves to a plane that was full of people being shipped out of the country I suppose it’s worth trying as a defence
I’m assuming that Colston got rich because he was rather good at slave trading. Otherwise anyone could have done it. Presumably he didn’t lose ships, hired good navigators, took at least a little interest in nutrition and avoiding diseases, and transferred a greater % of slaves to buyers in saleable condition than the competition.
I’m sure he didn’t care about the slaves as people, just as commodities, but he cared a damned sight more than the competition and more slaves survived the crossing because of him. Guy’s a hero who made the world richer.
Nothing at all do with that. He just bought shares in a company that had been granted a monopoly of trade between West Africa and British colonies. One of the categories of cargoes transported was slaves. As it was called “the middle passage” it is fairly easy to deduce that the voyage from Africa to the Caribbean or the American colonies was the least important and least valuable leg of the journey, with those exporting from and importing to the UK being the primary purpose and sources of profit.
Actually, far more slaves were transported by the Portuguese to their colony in Brazil.
Olusoga is trying to mislead the Jury.