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Slave owning family say ‘sorry’

HONOUR: New plaque will honour the memory of Mary Prince

A DESCENDANT of slave owners who paid £50 for unsung black hero Mary Prince has made a donation to a black educational charity and funded a memorial plaque in her honour.

Mark Nash, related to Bermudan slave owner Captain Ingham, said he made the gesture not out of guilt, but of a genuine desire to right the wrongs of the past in a small way.

He will now foot the bill of the bronze plaque to be erected on the Senate Building near the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

A small donation will also be made to the Nubian Jak Community Trust (NJCT) who organised the memorial as part of its ongoing work to keep alive the legacy of black men and women who have helped shape Britain’s history.

In a moving statement read out at a ceremony last week, Nash said: “This comes from a deep-seated belief that acknowledgement, apology and open dialogue are pathways to reconciliation and healing which we need certainly in my own country.

“The University had provided me with an opportunity to provide some form of reparations. Thank you, Mary Prince, for your life, for your amazing strength and courage, for being a driving force for change and fighting your oppressors.

“I extend my apologies on behalf of my family for what we did to you and others we enslaved. I pray that in my lifetime, following your incredible example, I can bring us closer to a world where skin colour favours no one.”
Prince was born on a Bermudan plantation in 1788.

After being brought to England early in the nineteenth century, Prince fled her cruel masters and settled near Senate House, a Grade II listed building, owned by the University of London.

In 1831 she wrote her life story, The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave with the help of Thomas Pringle, a member of the Anti-Slavery Society.

The book relayed the horrors of chattel slavery in the UK and the colonies and became a rallying cry for emancipation.

She disappeared from public records in 1833.

Jak Bubeula, NJCT chief executive, said: “Mary Prince played a significant role in the abolition movement, but is still an unsung hero and we wanted to rectify that. She is the only black person in this area to have a plaque, but it is also made from bronze to signify the reverence we hold for her.

“The best legacy that could come out of this project would be the completion of the Mary Prince story. What happened to her? Did she go back to Bermuda? Did she go up north?

She was a free woman, after all. Whatever she did, we hope she went on to live happily ever after.”

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