Slave descendants seek satisfactionSlave descendants seek satisfaction
For many foreign visitors, Copenhagen's cosy cobblestone streets, gabled town houses, and stately palaces may be a charming reminder of Denmark's colonial past. Some of the charm, however, may be lost on Shelley Moorhead, who arrived in Copenhagen on Sunday. Moorhead leads a campaign to raise awareness about Denmark's 175-year record of slavery in the former Danish West Indies, the source of a considerable part of the country's wealth and splendour in the colonial era. 'Danes ruled a slave regime that lasted from 1673 to 1848,' he said. 'If slavery existed, there also existed a mentality that allowed that institution to exist.' Danish slavery began when Christian V and the West Indian Company decided to boost Denmark's economy with spices, tobacco, cotton, rum, and sugar. When Danish and Norwegian workers proved useless for labor in the country's Caribbean colonies, St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. Jan, African slaves were shipped in to do the work for them. At least 100,000 people were transported alive from what is now Ghana, and an equal number is believed to have perished on the long journey over the Atlantic. The figures grant Denmark the dubious honor of a seventh place in the rank of the world's biggest slave-trading nations - right after the United States.