Across Pacific & Asia


Lifeline Expedition in the USA Began With A Journey of Friendship and Reconciliation Along The Meridian Line And Beyond

By Michael Ireland

LONDON, ENGLAND  (ANS) -- Between the end of September and the middle of October, white Americans and Europeans walked in a replica yoke and chains as a symbolic sign of penitence for the sins of their forefathers in the Atlantic slave trade.
(Pictured: 600 schoolchildren joined the Jubilee 2000 Lifeline walk at Chatteris in Cambridgeshire, England).

Africans and Africans of the Diaspora accompanied them as they have traveled on a pilgrimage toward healing, hope and peace, which has also sought to raise awareness of slavery and racism in our own day, says a press release from organizers.

The group, which wore T-shirts inscribed with the words “So Sorry,” traveled to several East Coast cities, including Baltimore, Salem, Marblehead, Boston, Providence and Newport, RI, Charleston, South Carolina and Richmond and Jamestown Virginia.

As they have journeyed along the East Coast, the group encountered a wide range of emotional reactions, from skepticism and protests to sympathy and gratitude.

The journey began in Annapolis where the Lifeline Expedition joined with the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation to commemorate the anniversary of the arrival of Kunta Kinte on the slave ship Lord Ligonier on September 29, 1767.

The event drew the attention of protesters from the National Alliance who displayed placards bearing the words “White Guilt Zone.”

At the conclusion of the event, Chris Haley, direct descendant of Kunta Kinte, and Orlando Ridout IV, a direct descendant of the person he was sold to, led the descendants of slaves and slaveholders in an act of reconciliation.

The group walked eight miles in the yoke and chains from the center of Charleston to McLeod Plantation on James Island and on Sullivan’s Island, where thousands of enslaved Africans were prepared for sale, penitents from the Netherlands, England, France and USA knelt at the historic marker and offered an apology for the role of their respective nations in the slave trade.

In Richmond, the expedition was in partnership with a number of organizations including the city’s Slave Trail Commission. A night time walk in the yoke and chains took place from where slaves were landed on the James River to the new historical marker commemorating the 1800 rebellion led by Gabriel Prosser.

A second walk was arranged on the following day. One of the participants was Vice Mayor Delores L. McQuinn, who presented a Certificate of Acknowledgement to the Lifeline Expedition and said that she hoped the event would provide a step toward changing racist attitudes in Richmond.

Another participant, Christopher Green told the Lifeline team, "I grew up with so much anger... I saw pictures of burnings and lynchings. Today I can actually say that I can put it behind me now. I can actually forgive not only you, I can forgive myself."

A controversial feature of the walk has been the presence of 13-year-old white American Jacob Lienau from Washington State, who also walked in chains.

“By the end of the slave trade,” Jacob explained, “up to half the Africans taken captive were my sort of age because they could pack more in the ships and they didn’t rebel like the grown ups. I want to say sorry about this, too.”

The Lifeline Expedition visit was reported nationally through Associated Press and was widely reported in local newspapers and TV stations. It was also featured on Korean TV Services (SBS). A documentary film crew captured the events for a film to be released in 2005.

The Lifeline Expedition will continue with journeys to the Caribbean in 2005, West Africa in 2006, and England for the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in 2007.


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, says a website dedicated to the project.
(Pictured: The Greenwich Meridian along which the first Lifeline walkers traveled in 2000. The whole walk has yet to be completed).

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.

The year 2000 provided a unique moment in time for countries to recognize the injustices of their past and their present prejudices and to begin the process of reconciliation.

This was the year that the Lifeline Expedition began with representatives from different meridian line nations coming to England and walking together for 260 miles from the North Sea near Hull to Peacehaven on the English Channel.

As they journeyed together, the team shared a jubilee message of reconciliation and urged people to support the campaign to release the poorest countries in the world from debt repayments. They shared their message with 1,700 schoolchildren many of whom walked with the team when they passed by their schools.

Civic receptions were held in Hull, Cleethorpes, Wisbech, East Grinstead and Peacehaven. A petition was delivered to the office of Clare Short, the Minister for Overseas Development, and there were several interviews for local press and radio. Funds also were raised for literacy projects in the African meridian nations.

In 2002, a team of 20 from the three corners of the former slave triangle, Europe, West Africa and the Caribbean, traveled 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.

The project has now developed into a series of reconciliation journeys along the Greenwich meridian and also to other nations on both sides of the Atlantic, which were involved in the triangular trade.

David Pott leads the Lifeline Expedition and describes how it all began. 
(Pictured: David Pott, Project Leader, the Lifeline Expedition).

"In the autumn of 1997, I was half awake, half asleep one morning with a very clear picture in my mind of the serpent twisting around the pole from the Bible story in Numbers 21:4-9. I had no reason to see this image -- I had not been thinking about the story. As the picture was very insistent I asked the question, ‘Why am I seeing this?’ Straightaway the pole turned into the Greenwich meridian line and the serpent into a path encircling the line, with people from different nations walking along the path. It took me some weeks thinking about those few seconds of revelation to work out what it was all about!”

Pott became aware of the fact the serpent on the pole is a universal symbol of healing and that the Greenwich meridian line nations show a marked contrast between the wealth of England, France and Spain and the poverty of nations like Mali and Burkina Faso. (The 3 empires of England, France and Spain covered more of the surface of the globe than any other empires and their languages have been most influential).

“The Greenwich meridian is central in terms of our conception of the world, in terms of geography, time travel, history etc.,” Pott said. He was also interested in the links with John's gospel 3:14-16, where Christ's reconciling act of love for the world is likened to the bronze serpent incident.

Later on Pott also noted that the Israelites who were dying from snakebites had recently escaped from slavery in Egypt. The serpent on the pole may well have reminded them of the snake-like whips of the slave masters and also of the power of Pharoah whose headdress incorporated a serpent. Although they were no longer slaves, the Israelites were still influenced by the legacy.

“Responding to that vision led me to devise a 260-mile footpath which linked existing footpaths close to the Greenwich meridian. It goes between Cleethorpes and Peacehaven, and if I ever get time to complete the job, it will be called The Meridian Way,” Pott said.

Then it was a case of finding people from the different meridian nations and planning and executing the Jubilee 200 Lifeline Walk along the path Pott created.

“In summary, the origins of the Lifeline Expedition flow from this vision of the meridian line representing the need for healing and reconciliation between nations," he said.

The aims of the Lifeline Expedition can be summarized in this way: to bring people from Africa, the Americas and Europe to journey together with the aim of promoting reconciliation in the context of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and its legacy; to bring an apology for the slave trade and in particular for Christian responsibility; to raise funds for projects in Africa and the Caribbean and to encourage fair trade, thus reversing the south to north flow which has exploited Africa; and to educate and inform about issues of slavery, racism and reconciliation through schools participation and media coverage.

Pott concluded: “We had an amazing time with Lifeline Expedition in USA. We had wide press and media coverage.”

A Google search on 'lifeline expedition' or 'slavery reconciliation walk' will bring up several articles in the press, such as

For more information about the Lifeline Expedition visit

Contact Details:
Joseph Zintseme,
Youth With A Mission,
PO Box 7736,
RICHMOND VA 23231-0236
Tel: 804-236-8898
Project Director in England:
David Pott,
Lifeline Expedition,
58 Geoffrey Rd,
Tel: (01144) 208 694 2220

** Michael Ireland is an international British freelance journalist. A former reporter with a London newspaper, Michael is the Chief Correspondent for ASSIST News Service of Garden Grove, CA. Michael immigrated to the United States in 1982 and became a US citizen in Sept., 1995. He is married with two children. Michael has also been a frequent contributor to UCB Europe, a British Christian radio station.

ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 2126, Garden Grove, CA 92842-2126 USA
E-mail:, Web Site:

Thursday, November 4, 2004





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