Manifesto, by Maggie Mackay

Every slave is a person

with a name, a story, a dream.

Elsa is a hostage exploited

to keep her parents in servitude. 

Kofi is forced to fish all day,

dive into danger, below fraught lake waters.

Benjamin spends his childhood making bricks.

They dream of school, of making friends,

of mums, dads, brothers and sisters under one roof.

Safe is a fairy-tale word, love a thing of magic. 


‘We have no slaves in Scotland…’ This was the conclusion of a 1687 case concerning a travelling showman and a performing gymnast he’d ‘acquired’. It was the first time a Scottish court had rejected slavery. Now, thanks to the work of Alan McLean QC, composer Tom Cunningham and novelist Alexander McCall Smith, the story has been turned into an operetta. Here, the creators discuss their project and explain why the story still matters today.

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