Ranganathan said that slave trading was something “..the white British did..” - a racist statement ignoring African involvement. British involvement in the slave trade was shameful but could not have taken place without active involvement of Africans. The programme covered the history of Freetown without mentioning who set it up or efforts by Britain to end the slave trade. African involvement in the trade was not mentioned at all.
In Freetown, slaves freed by the Royal Navy walked through the ‘Freedom Arch’ to the Old King’s Yard to be given treatment and food. Declared a National Monument in 1949, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its website says, “The Gateway to the Old King’s Yard compares with the Statue of Liberty in the United States in enduring as a highly potent symbol, inspiring contemplation of ideals such as freedom, human rights, democracy and opportunity…”. Surely such a monument was worth showing. But no mention.
There is little difference in airtime between the statement made: ‘Freetown was set up for freed slave’ and an alternative ‘Britain set up Freetown for freed slaves’? Again, what is the different between the statement made ‘Freed slaves were brought to Freetown’ and an alternative ‘British Navy ships brought slaves they had freed to Freetown’?
I am glad the second reviewer admits what was said. Quoting the full context does not alter the sentiment which was that slavery was “…. something the white British did. …..” adding “It is part of British history…” Romesh added “…. the standard of living that is built upon benefits that were gleaned from slavery” which is much disputed by some very eminent economic historians. Your reviewer then adds “…. these are Romesh’s views on the complex legacy of slavery.”Your reviewer also stated this was a travel programme. Well, it took time to delve into history in a way to discredit Britain. The programme sets out clearly racist views because the whole programme section blames the white British for the slave trade and mentions only items which discredit British history.There is much for Britain to be proud of in Freetown, including the UNESCO World Heritage site. Many more rescued slaves were taken to Freetown than ever were shipped as slaves from Bunce Island. Clearly a lack of balance was shown.In a programme about Sierra Leone and Freetown that talks about history it would have been easy to mention that Freetown was set up by the British to take slaves freed by the Royal Navy where they would be safe because black Africans continued to enslave and sell other Africans. It did not. This clearly shows the programme makers wish to avoid mentioning anything good about Britain.Let us be clear. A travel programme does not need to mention history but if it does, it needs to be balanced. This was not. Further, this programme was racially biased because it blamed only the British but did not mention black African involvement.Some people are now claiming that the BBC has lost it impartiality and is keen to interpret history in an anti-British way. So far, they are proved right.
On to the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit then...
Incidentally, just looking up the UNESCO World Heritage Site Chris Tett mentions, a Trip Advisor reviewer adds something intriguing:
The original plaque clearly visible now joined by a modern one from the BBC.
Wonder what those plaques say?