African slavers

Slave catchers galore

In Nigeria, I remember my grandmother saying that when she was a little girl her great grandmother always said, ‘be careful how you’re behaving, if you’re naughty I’ll give you two the slave catchers’.

That must have been a terrible, terrible thing to tell a child…

Coco also remembers being told: ‘Watch out or the bogey man will get you’, though who ever said it I do not now remember. It may even have been on my own lips to one of our many cousins. I suppose such things have often been said to little children to bring them into line.

These words were reported by the BBC being on the lips of professor who by reason of her provenance and vocation really should know better.

You see these words were said in connection with the Atlantic slave trade which was abolished by the United Kingdom over 200 years ago. Now it may have been possible that Coco’s grandmother’s great-grandmother may have been born before the act of abolition, but I think it hardly likely that the speakers’ grandmother would have heard her great grandmother saying these words to her before then. We must understand then that the slave catchers referenced here are not the same category of slave catcher that was involved in the European sponsored slave trade which we had long before then abolished, but perhaps they were; let ius see.

To whom is the reference made? We know that the slave trade continued in Africa long after we had renounced, and repented of our part in, it, for despite [colonial] efforts to do so in Nigeria it continued until the middle of the twentieth century. In effect we had to (perhaps were forced to) live with it. We also know that the slave catchers for the trade in which our ancestors had been involved was fed by the ancestors of those who today live in West Africa, and many Africans also made themselves rich on the proceeds of the trade.

Coco can only suppose then that the slave catchers of which the lady’s grandmother heard were those African slave catchers who refused to give up slavery during the twentieth century. So why bring them up in connection with a discussion about whether to retain statues of and monuments to men who were involved in the Atlantic Trade? We perhaps need to consider that the monuments may not be there because of their involvement but despite their involvement.

At least it is a little bit of an acknowledgement that without the willing co-operation of African slave catchers the Atlantic trade would not have been possible. Perhaps it is also an unwitting acknowledgement that the lady’s own ancestors, and perhaps even some of the close relations of the grandmother’s great-grandmother, were themselves slave catchers. The tip of the iceberg has been revealed, but when will the remainder of the iceberg of African involvement be exposed? I guess it is easier to transport an iceberg intact to Cardiff, Edinburgh and London than it is to Calabar and Bonny; to Birmingham than to Abuja. Coco doubts that reparations shall be required of the descendants of the real slave cacthers.

I love, I love my Master. I will not go out free, for he has paid the price for me. He has set me free (Frances Ridley Havergal alt.). I have referred to this before, but it remains true: ‘God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘ From one blood, or from one man, means we of all nations have one common ancestor. We are all cousins, and it is his intention to gather his people from all of the many nations into one family.

Let us seek the Lord through the Lord Jesus Christ in whom alone we shall find salvation.

Pizza or Tennis: a diplomatic incident?

A warning to Wiebo users: do not share this. And yes, Coco does know that word this is miss-spelt as Coco does incorrectly spell ohters.

Freckles are apparently a diplomatic matter in one oriental country. Well perhaps Coco is overstating it, but apparently pizza is, which not being Italian Coco would not of course understand. We begin with the BBC in 2018 Dolce and Gabbana cancels Shanghai fashion show amid racism accusations:

‘Another user adds that a wave of companies and individuals have been smeared over “insults to [Seres]”, noting that the D&G incident was “raised to diplomatic level”.’

which was about an apparently entirely inappropriate pizzese incident.

This in 2019 then becomes a freckles incident Zara advert gets China asking: Are freckles beautiful?:
Some said that Ms Li’s appearance looked “ugly” to them.

Others have gone further, questioning whether Zara was “insulting” or “defaming the [Serenites]”, with one saying: “such pictures featuring an Asian model with freckles and an expressionless pie-shaped face mislead Westerners’ impressions about Asian women, and can lead to racism against Asian women.”‘

And then the small eyes incident [Sinæ]: Photographer sorry for ‘small eyes’ Dior picture:

In an editorial by the [Peking] Daily, the model in the Dior photo was described as having a “gloomy face” and sinister eyes”.

“The photographer is playing up to the brands, or the aesthetic tastes of the western world,” the editorial said. “For years, Asian women have always appeared with small eyes and freckles from the Western perspective, but the oriental way to appreciate art and beauty can’t be distorted by that.” Meanwhile, a commentary by [] Women’s News said that the image of the model with “swollen single eyelids” made people feel “uncomfortable”.’

Well, a face is a face, whether it is a freckly face or not is not your choice, but photoshopping a photograph of a face is the real distortion. In most of these extracts from the BBC articles quoting comments, by Coco assumes orientals, we could substitute references to orientals with occidental, perhaps even accidental, references or references to any other racial stereotype.

However that is not Coco’s point. If an advert is capable of going up to diplomatic levels, as has been reported, why is the disappearance of Peng Shuai not a diplomatic matter?
Peng Shuai: China says tennis star case maliciously hyped up

Perhaps the question should rather be, in the light of the deliberate malicious hyping up of photographs in advertisements of absolutely no consequence, why does that country suggest that the controversy, which does have consequences, surrounding tennis star Peng Shuai has been maliciously hyped up by others?

Of course, Coco hopes that Peng Shuai is well and free, but in the face of obstruction and obfuscation, by a government that hope has little on which to hold, which perhaps brings us back to Wuhan.

Daniel provides a commentary one who outgrew his boots: “‘Is not this great Babylon that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honour of my majesty?’ While [this] word was still on the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken. The kingdom has departed from you. They shall drive you from men and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field…until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he choose.’ … Nebuchadnezzar was driven out .. and ate grass like the oxen. His body was wet with the dew till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and nails like birds’ claws. “

Quantum counting

IBM claims advance in quantum computing

Coco finds it most appropriate that the BBC has reported that the Eagle has, at 127, twice as many qubits as the previous IBM processor.

Now 127 is an odd number, so it is impossible, so his simple understanding of numbers tells him, that it should be exactly twice another integer.

IBM claims advance in quantum computing

However, being a quantum processor one may safely conclude that the previous one had 63 or 64 qubits. Shrödinger knows why.


Carpenters, Cleese, Cambridge and Christmas

Coco was not sure what was the most astonishing the Carpenters, Cleese or Cambridge and Christmas.

The carpenter stretches out his rule, he marks one out with chalk; he fashions it with a plane, he marks it out with the compass, and makes it like the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house.

He cuts down cedars for himself, and takes the cypress and the oak; he secures it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it. Then it shall be for a man to burn, for he will take some of it and warm himself; yes, he kindles it and bakes bread; indeed he makes a god and worships it; he makes it a carved image, and falls down to it. He burns half of it in the fire; with this half he eats meat; he roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, ‘Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire.’ And the rest of it he makes into a god, his carved image.

He falls down before it and worships it, prays to it and says, ‘Deliver me, for you are my god!’

They do not know nor understand; for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. And no one considers in his heart, nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, ‘I have burned half of it in the fire, yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; and shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?’ He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside; and he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, ‘Is there not a lie in my right hand?’

It is good to see that Monty Python is as effective as it ever was in challenging the assumptions of society. I would have liked to see what sort of sketch the team would have made of the words of Isaiah about the carpenter, but I think they did not address that particular topic, though they did tread on many a sensitive toe. It seems that Blacklisting himself was a very effective weapon, subverting all expectations in true Monty Python style ‘Oh no! Please, not the comfy chair!’. It precipitated a very rapid climb down from Cambridge, which perhaps indicates that they too could not see the lie in their right hand. In the face of the loss of an opportunity to meet with the great man, they decided that to play with trifles, to turn Rommel’s words on their head, they would have to over turn their own principles.

So Cambridge does not have a black list. Well that is encouraging, but Coco suspects that that is simply another form of whitewashing. To call the list black after all might impugn a certain section of the population who may take [unnecessary] offence just as Cambridge did at a certain art historian, doing what all historians do, quoting the words of the past. So in ungood 1985 style, they do not have a blacklist, nor indeed a list of any sort, it is simply a list. or one might say a Platonian (rather than Platonic, which might incorrectly in these days of gross word abuse suggest harmless) list, but Coco wished to avoid any form of adjectival qualification of the meaning of the word. On the other hand, just as an aside, as a Platonian list is the idea of a list without any qualification as to purpose, style, or any other quality which may be possessed by a list, it is the ideal list, it serves to show that those who indulge in philosophical, semantic or logical discussion to justify themselves will find themselves contradicting the very thing that they sought to prove. Leave such arguments to the mathematicians, who will quickly find that they fall into the trap of infinity or zero if they make such a mistake. We should note however that to say ‘An ideal list is an unqualified list’ is in Plato’s world both true and untrue apparently at the same time. Schrödinger may have been able explain that. For the ideal list is, in modern expression, the null list from which all other lists are constructed, but the ideal list, in original expression, is the idea of a list as it exists in the mind. Now Coco contends that the idea of a list without any content can exist in the mind of an infinite being but in the mind of a finite being a list only exists when it has content, hence when the modern world speaks about the ideal list it means the list drawn up for the Germanic (not Germanian for that would be silly) World Cup squad. Notwithstanding these discussion about the Ideal World then Coco now wishes to return our ideas and thoughts back to Cambridge.

It seems to Coco that for Cambridge to say ‘I misspoke’ is simply a euphemism for ‘I have a lie in my right hand’.

Isaiah is not being negative by the way, he continued:

Remember these, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I have formed you, you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me! I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel.

These are the words of the Lord, who has blotted out our transgression. Our lies, our offences have all been covered by the blood of the Lamb of God, whose birth shall be remembered in a mere six weeks.

A happy Christmas to you all


Willkommen bei Cocos blog!

Pure Chocolate asks you to remember that chocolate should never be less than 52% and always handled with care..

Pure Chocolate invites you to indulge yourself in the sounds, sights and sensibilities that surround you in the labyrinth that is Pure Chocolate.

Pure Chocolate must advise you that you use this site at your own peril and Coco accepts no responsibility if as a consequence of using this site you

  • find yourself unable to resist returning
  • fail to turn up for dinner
  • eat too much chocolate
  • feint in the manner of a Regency lady.

If you wish to receive the fullest experience of Pure Chocolate, please click here.


Words which are familiar

If you were born before 1965 or sing in a choir then these words may be very familiar to you. They form the core of many a choral work. But did you know that a similar set of words is used frequently but for a far different, yet incoherent, purpose? First of all, let me turn you to what the Bible says: There is no god, so says the fool in his heart.

What does this lead the fool to do? To live as if there is no accounting for his behaviour, to live as if there is no meaning (or at least attempt to do so as some apologetics for atheism try to say) in life, and to say that we are nothing more than a chemical factory which operates for a time on this planet along with many others and eventually wears out. It leaves morality as a mere construct of social normality or expectation and to, as many have noted, a breakdown in society. It is strange to Coco that it cannot clearly be seen that if it is society that defines morality and then it is that same society that conforms (or deviates) from it that this is an iterative process and, as experience has shown, results in positive feedback causing the expectations of morality to be lowered further. It is a dangerous road to follow.

The alternative is to say that there is at least one god. This provides accountability, meaning and morality. But if you get the character of the one god wrong, or if you have many gods who are in competition with each other, or who behave in the same way as men and women only with greater power, then the morality that is approved, or the accountability and meaning are at best questionable, and at worst more dangerous than not having any at all.

The fool then is content to remain in his ignorance, but the one who is not a fool must seek out to know who the god is who exists, and then choose whether or not to believe in him. Many quickly make their own impression of what the god is like, and fill in the bits that are not clear by their own imagination. They then decide that they do not want to believe in this god, for the god they imagine for themselves is not attractive to them. Still others produce the picture of an indulgent grandfather type figure, in whom they would quite like to believe and hope is true, but provides no basis at all for the morality that they would like others to hold. Neither results in the gain of any real understanding of the character and nature of the true God, because these efforts stem from a misguided understanding. A friend, having being told by a stranger I don’t believe in god, replied: Tell me about the god in which you do not believe. I probably don’t believe in him either.

We are also not helped by these efforts to answer the question whether there is a god. But experience may help us to do so for we know that there is a god as we consider next.

During the course of each day we hear many confessions that there is a god in which to believe, for the name of this one God is often taken in vain, exclamation or as blasphemy. If there is no god in which to believe all such things are empty nonsense, meaningless and not worth the breath which was used to give them utterance. But the fact that those who do speak in this way use these words intentionally and with effect shows that although they may say ‘I do not believe in god’ they do not say that a god does exist. The common understanding of man, notwithstanding the words of the fool, is that there is a god.

Secondly, a British prime minister recently replied to a journalist using the text with which I started The foolish man has said in his heart, there is no God as his reply. It was not a confession I believe in God as if to take a different position to the leader of the opposition party who had said that he did not believe in God*, but rather saying to the journalist who had asked it: You are asking the wrong question. It is not a matter of whether you believe in God or not, but whether there is a god in which to believe or not believe.

The statement I do not believe in God is as much a confession that there is a god in which to believe as the statement I believe in One God. The unbeliever may take pride in his confession I do not believe in God but it is nevertheless as much an affirmation that he believes in the existence of the god in whom he does not believe as a believer’s confession I believe in God. Neither statement addresses the existence of God, but rather the attitude and leaning of the person making the statement.

What then, if there is a god? Should we not discover who this god is? We must one day answer to him. But if there is a god, and that god is God, then he is beyond our understanding: the word for this is ineffable. If we are to know him, then we must rely upon his own revelation of himself to us. In other words we cannot work out ourselves what he is like, we must listen to what he has said about himself. When we look we find that he has not been silent, he has not left himself without witnesses, he has spoken, in times past in many divers ways but at the last in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philip asked him, Show us the Father and we shall be content. The Lord replied: Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. We are then without excuse if we ignore what he has said to us, and continue to try to do it our own way.

Credimus in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem coeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium, et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unicum.

The creed tells us who this God is: I believe in one God, the Father almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten the Son of God according to his own revelation to us.

It is quite unexpected to be able to add to this after only one week. That the self-same prime minister has had to back track on proposals to modify his own construct of morality as a consequence of them not being quite aligned with the self-defined moralities of others, thus precipitating the obviously required, whether innocent or not, resignation of a fellow MP serves well to illustrate that those who build their morality upon the shifting sands of opinion, shall, in this quickly, fall upon the rocks making shipwreck of their unbelief.

We were reminded of Paul’s discussion with the Epicureans (the ‘awkin’ (D…s and H…g) of his day) and the Stoics (fatalist, whom I shall fail to identify, but if the cap fits, let them wear it) in the Athenian intellectual market place, where he addressed and undermined the issues which afflicted them and us today, pointing them to the God who made the heavens and the earth, who has appointed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness, not by a mere social construct, but by Jesus Christ. And what is the proof of this some may ask. He raised Jesus from the dead, as is well attested.

So if this market place is able to transform itself (metamorphose), let us listen to the command to transform ourselves (metanoö – repent) and believe.