Remembering Equiano - 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery
Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa 'The African' - In Soham, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

Soham at the Time of the Abolition

March of the Abolitionists

The Lifeline Expedition

'The Lifeline Expedition - March of the Abolitionists' walking towards Whitehall, London on Saturday 24th March 2007
'The Lifeline Expedition - March of the Abolitionists'
Walking towards Whitehall, London on Saturday 24th March 2007

The Lifeline Expedition - Healing the Past, Transforming the Future

The Lifeline Expedition began as a reconciliation journey linking the European and African nations along the Greenwich meridian line (zero longitude.) The first Lifeline Expedition journey was the 'Jubilee 2000 Lifeline Walk' in England. During the course of that journey, it became evident that the major reconciliation issue between Europe and Africa, was that of the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

In 2002, a team of 20 from the three corners of the former slave triangle, Europe, West Africa and the Caribbean, travelled through France. For the first time the slave coffle was used, with white Europeans and Americans walking in replica yokes and chains as a symbolic sign of apology for the slave trade.

In 2003, The Lifeline Expedition visited Spain and Portugal and another new feature was added: copies of the apology statement for the slave trade, issued at the last Liverpool City council meeting of 1999, were delivered to city halls. It was requested that councils consider making similar statements for their cities.

The Lifeline Expedition visited the USA in 2004 and received wide coverage in the media, partly because of the opposition of right wing white supremacist groups. Highlights included partnering with the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation at a commemorative event in Annapolis, Maryland and partnering with Richmond City Council and other groups in a three day "Program for our Collective Healing."

In 2005, The Lifeline Expedition in the Caribbean region included visits to entry points for the slave trade - Barbados (British, Cartagena Colombia (Spanish), Curacao (Dutch) and Martinique Guadeloupe (French). Once again there was widespread media coverage. In Curacao, the team were received by the Governor General and the Prime Minister.

There were two expeditions in West Africa in 2006. In the Gambia, the expedition brought their apology to the opening ceremony of the International Roots Festival and the Vice-President released the whites from the yoke and chains. The participation of Andrew Hawkins, a descendant of England's first slave trader Sir John Hawkins was widely reported in the world's press.

The journey concluded with the 'March of the Abolitionists' for the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 2007.

The main purpose of The Lifeline Expedition is:-

  • To bring an apology for the role of Europeans (and especially the role of the church) in the Atlantic slave trade and to ask how we can make amends and repair the damage.

  • To provide a safe place for dialogue and to foster healing and reconciliation.

  • To engage with schools, public forums and the media to educate about the true history of slavery and abolition and the need to deal with ongoing issues of racism, racial justice and forgiveness.

  • To remember the abolitionists of 200 years ago, especially seeking to bring to the fore the contribution of lesser known abolitionists, both black and white. To further the work started by abolitionists 200 years ago by facilitating healing and restoration from the consequences of slavery among Africans and African descendants

  • To draw attention to ongoing forms of contemporary slavery and to campaign for its abolition. To also draw attention to the dehumanisation of any race or people group by any kind oppression or slavery .

'March of the Abolitionists' - From Hull to London

The 'March of the Abolitionists' walk from Hull to Westminster began on 1st March 2007 and was a mammoth 250 miles long. With regard to the abolition of the slave trade in England, it is a curious fact that several key events occurred within a few miles of the Greenwich meridian line and the route taken by the walkers.

  • William Wilberforce came from Hull and Thomas Clarkson from Wisbech, both places close to the meridian line.

  • Thomas Clarkson wrote the essay on the slave trade, which changed his life in Cambridge and also committed his life to abolition at Wadesmill in Hertfordshire.

  • Wilberforce made a similar commitment by the oak in Keston Kent.

  • Olaudah Equiano lived for a time in Greenwich. He was married at St. Andrew's Church, Soham, Cambridgeshire and his daughter was buried at Chesterton in Cambridge.

  • The bill to abolish slavery was passed in Westminster. The Anti Slavery Society, which Clarkson started, is located in Stockwell.

In 2000 a footpath was devised called the Meridian Way, which was used for the 'Jubilee 2000 Lifeline Walk' and this route was again used for the last part of the walk. Parliament voted to abolish the slave trade on 24th February 1807 and the Act became law at noon on 25th March 1807.

'March of the Abolistionists' - The Merdian Walk from Hull to London (250 Miles)
Image Courtesy of Google Maps

Route Details:
(Daily Starting Points in BOLD)

Date: Journey
Thurs 1 March 2007 Hull - Barton-upon-Humber
Holy Trinity Hull at 09:00
09 miles
Fri 2 March 2007 Barton-upon-Humber - Scunthorpe
Bowmandale School at 09:00
16 miles
Sat 3 March 2007 Scunthorpe - Epworth
St. Hughes, Old Brumby Street at 09:00
11 miles
Sun 4 March 2007 Rest day in Epworth
Mon 5 March 2007 Epworth - Gainsborough
Epworth Old Rectory, Rectory Street at 09:00
12 miles
Tues 6 March 2007 Gainsborough - Saxilby
Gainsborough Methodist Church
at 09:00
12 miles
Wed 7 March 2007 Saxilby - Branston via Lincoln
Saxilby Primary School at 09:00
12 miles
Thurs 8 March 2007 Branston - Billinghay
Branston Church of England at 09:00
13 miles
Fri March 9 Billinghay - Boston
Billinghay Primary School at 09:15
15 miles
Sat 10 March 2007 Boston - Holbeach
Cotton Chapel, Boston Stump
8:45(morning prayer),
walk starts at 09:00
14 miles
Sun 11 March 2007 Rest day in Holbeach
Mon 12 March 2007 Holbeach - Wisbech
George Farmer Technology and Language College
14 miles
Tues 13 March 2007 Wisbech - Wimblington
Clarkeson Statue at 09:00
12 miles
Wed 14 March 2007 Wimblington - Sutton
Anglican Church Wimblington - 09:00
12 miles
Thurs 15 March 2007 Sutton - Soham via Ely
Anglican Church - 09:00
12 miles
Fri 16 March 2007 Soham - Cambridge
Anglican Church Soham - 09:00
16 miles
Sat 17 March 2007 Cambridge - Royston
St. John's College Chapel at 09:00
14 miles
Sun 18 March 2007 Rest day in Royston
Mon 19 March 2007 Royston - Buntingford
Priory Gardens at 09:30
09 miles
Tues 20 March 2007 Buntingford - Ware
St.Peter's on Market Hill at 09:15
12 miles
Wed 21 March 2007 Ware - Waltham Abbey
Priory Grounds, High Street, Ware
at 09:00
12 miles
Thurs 22 March 2007 Waltham Abbey - Walthamstow
Waltham Abbey Church
8:30 (monring prayer),
walk starts at 09:00
09 miles
Fri 23 March 2007 Walthamstow - Greenwich
Hylands House School at 09:00
10 miles
Sat 24 March 2007 Greenwich - Westminster
Cutty Sark, Greenwich at 09:00
Sun 25 March 2007 Anniversary day events

'March of the Abolitionists' Arrive in Soham

As part of The Lifeline Expedition 'March of the Abolitionists' walk from Hull to London the walkers visited Soham on Friday 16th March 2007. On arriving in Soham, complete with yokes and chains, they visited St. Andrew's Church where abolitionist Susannah Cullen on 7th April 1792. During the evening the marchers were treated to dinner at Soham Village College along with a talk & slideshow about Equiano by expert Dr Brycchan Carey. Expedition leader, David Pott, then gave a talk about the aims of The Lifeline Expedition and the reasons and purpose of the walk from Hull to London.

Dr Brycchan Carey David Pott from The Lifeline Expedition

Dr Brycchan Carey - Expert on Olaudah Equiano

David Pott from The Lifeline Expedition


Soham Museum Project Open Day - Lodside Hall, Soham Village College on Saturday 11th October 2003 from 2.00pm - 4.00pm
Soham Museum

SA4Y - Soham Action 4 Youth

 Soham Village College

Soham Village College - Stage Chance

The National Lottery - Heritage Lottery Fund

Momentum Arts

Untold Stories

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