In The Times, Brian Logan talks to Kwame Kwei-Armah about his new play, Statement Of Regret which opens at the National Theatre in London next month.
When Tony Blair made his “statement of regret” about Britain’s role in the slave trade, Kwei-Armah thought: “I’ve got to write something around that.” What fascinated him was that the Government’s legal advisers vetoed an apology lest Britain be rendered liable for damages. (The African-American community is currently suing the United States for $77 trillion in reparations). “If the legal department of Government is worried,” Kwei-Armah says, “then there must be an element of truth in the claim. So let us explore that. What happens when one seeks to repair? We often think it’s just money: every black person will be given five grand to buy a new BMW. I’m not thinking of that. I’m thinking of reparation as healing.”