When sorrow isn’t good enough

Reading about British PM Tony Blair’s intention to express ‘sorrow’ at the slave trade centuries ago, brought to mind a more recent event in my university town of Bristol.
Traditionally, members of our Malaysian-Singaporean Students’ Association would raise money by ‘auctioning’ off first-year students (called Freshers). It was all in good fun, although by the time it reached my generation it became increasingly randy and outrageous – no thanks to me.
We got along well with students from other countries and they too were invited to participate in our slave auction. One Eastern European hunk dressed in drag, together with his friends.
But when Z, who attended the same law course as I, appeared on stage to be sold as a slave, something came up from the back of my mind and smacked me on the forehead.
You see, Z was Nigerian-born. As she stood on stage smiling, I recalled what little I had read up on Bristol’s shadier past as a major player in the slave trade. It was ironic, yet symbolic – a sign that perhaps history had been forgiven by some, if not forgotten? That it was no longer taboo and we didn’t have to worry about political correctness anymore?
Technorati Tags: Bristol, slave trade, Tony Blair


  1. vantan

    Hi Heather. To answer your question: it depends on how good you look. The pretty girls have no problem getting bidders. Usually some (wealthy) senior buys them.
    If nobody wants to bid for you, your ‘sponsor’ will have to step in and bail you out. [Every year, we assign one senior to look after one Freshie and they’re called sponsors.]
    Whichever the case, you become that person’s ‘slave’ for a day. It usually involves doing some chores like cleaning up the room or cooking a meal.

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