THE SNP conference in October will be asked to urge the Scottish Government to consider making a formal apology for Scotland’s role in the slave trade.

The motion from Provan Branch also calls on the Government to look at strengthening relations with countries affected by the trade.

The University of Glasgow is commended in the motion for its “historic decision” to acknowledge last week the benefits it derived from the slave trade and for undertaking restorative moves.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that commits the University of Glasgow and the University of The West Indies to work together in the foundation of a Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research was signed on Friday.

The centre, co-located in Glasgow and the Caribbean, will host events and activities, sponsor research work, co-ordinate academic collaborations with other universities, and help to stimulate public awareness about the history of slavery and its impact on the Caribbean and around the world.

READ MORE: Glasgow University to fund £20m project recognising slavery links

The centre is one of a series of recommendations that emerged from a report based on comprehensive research conducted by the university into its links with historical slavery which was published last year.

At Friday’s event, Scottish Makar Jackie Kay recited a new poem specifically commissioned for the day, and an exhibition about the university and slavery was unveiled in the university chapel.

However while the Provan branch motion praises the university’s work, it also notes the “general lack of public awareness” of the role Scotland played in the development of the slave trade before calling on the Government to examine the possibility of making a formal apology.

A call for an apology has also been made by actor David Hayman whose ground-breaking documentary on Scotland and the slave trade was recently screened on BBC Scotland.

He told The National: “I think there has to be an apology at some point. We have got to own our past and say ‘mea culpa’, our ancestors were people responsible for dark, dark deeds.

“Then we can see what links can be forged with the Caribbean and even West Africa. It has got to happen at all levels and we can see how far we can take it.”

Hayman said he had been amazed, when he was making the films to find out the extent that people were still suffering today from the effects of slavery.

“And we still benefit from the slave trade,” he said. “Every town, every city, every piece of railway and our industrial heritage was funded from the profits of the slave trade. The extent to which we were involved was astonishing.”

He said racism against black people today had its roots in the slave trade.

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“Until we come to terms with that will never defeat racism against black people,” said Hayman.

Kay agreed not enough was known in Scotland about its past links with the slave trade.

“The average Scottish child won’t know that Glasgow was founded on money from the slave trade, that a slave owner put the Gallery of Modern Art building there, why Jamaica Street is called Jamaica Street and why Virginia Street is called Virginia Street,” she said.

“They won’t know any of these things in the way that Liverpool, Bristol, Manchester and London have all started to come to terms with their histories. We just don’t talk about it.”

Moves are being made to create a Scottish Museum of Empire, Colonialism, Slavery and Migration and Glasgow City Council is looking at establishing cultural, sporting and business links with Kingston in Jamaica.

The National:

Councillor Graham Campbell (above) said that as well as discussing a museum there was potential to develop music links as both are Unesco Cities of Music.

“Rather than have a formal twinning which does not necessarily result in a lot of contact we could have artist exchanges and maybe a festival,” he said. “We are actively discussing that and hopefully by the time of Black History Month in October we will be able to talk about a music city relationship.

“I would like us to have something Caribbean to mark August 1, the abolition of slavery. It’s early days yet but we are open to ideas on how that would happen.”

He said there was also discussion within the council on what they could do in response to the Glasgow University action.

READ MORE: We need a blether aboot Scotland’s role in slavery

“The university commissioned a report to do some research and it would be great for the city council to do the same so we will be making a decision about that,” he said.

Zandra Yeaman of the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) said actions and a dedicated space were needed as well as words.

For the past 19 years, CRER has co-ordinated a programme of events for Black History Month and in 2017 launched a campaign for a space to represent the realities of empire, colonialism, slavery and the nation’s history.

“Our vision is that, within the next decade, Scotland will have its own dedicated National Museum of Empire, Slavery, Colonialism and Migration.

“Scotland’s role in Empire, Slavery and Colonialism was massive,” said Yeaman. “A dedicated space that will help capture this history is essential.”