'My ancestor traded in human misery' (UK)

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Sorry is often said to be the hardest word but Andrew Hawkins felt compelled to apologise to a crowd of thousands of Africans.

His regret was not for his own actions but offered on behalf of his ancestor, who traded in African slaves 444 years ago.

Sir John Hawkins was a 16th Century English shipbuilder, merchant, pirate and slave trader.

He first captured natives of Sierra Leone in 1562 and sold them in the Caribbean. His cousin was Sir Francis Drake, who joined him on expeditions.

Andrew Hawkins, of Liskeard, Cornwall, is a 37-year-old married father-of-three who runs a youth theatre company and claims to be the sailor's descendent.

"It had always been part of the verbal history of our family, that we were related to Sir John Hawkins.

"It was a standing joke in the family that we had a pirate in the family."

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Vernon Clayson - 6/24/2006

Apologizing for slave trading by ancestors 444 years ago is a waste of breath and space, silliness at its extreme. Andrew Hawkins presumes too much, no single person in the entire world cares to blame any individual or nation - other than the United States, of course.