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International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery
and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

United Nations activities around the world in 2017

The global network of United Nations Information Centres (UNICs) held special events throughout the world in 2017 to highlight the messages of the United Nations Remember Slavery Programme and mark the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (25 March). The 2017 theme was "Remember Slavery: Recognising the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent".

Events organized by the UNICs ranged from film screenings and educational field trips to informational exhibits, cultural performances and panel discussions. The United Nations Remember Slavery Programme provided educational materials, including a poster exhibit in all of the United Nations’ six official languages, entitled “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development”. The exhibit’s 13 posters highlighted the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Remember Slavery Programme, the work of the International Decade for People of African Descent, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Slave Route Project, contributions of the African diaspora and the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade. Additional support materials included calendars in all of the United Nations’ six official languages featuring The Ark of Return, the Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade at the United Nations.

Nearly 70 activities were organized in 20 countries.

AFRICA

Accra, Ghana

“Remember Slavery” event in Ghana (UNIC Accra)

“Remember Slavery” event in Ghana (UNIC Accra)

UNIC Accra organised several activities that reached more than 1,000 students from three schools in Assin Manso, a town in Ghana’s Central Region.  On 30 March, the UNIC screened the documentary “They Are We”, about a Cuban family searching for its origins in Africa, which was produced by Emma Christopher and Sergio Leyva Seiglie.  Following the film, a discussion was held with the students. A poster exhibit titled “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development” was displayed at the Assin Manso Senior High School, and the UNIC briefed students about it during a two day period. The exhibit remained on display for several weeks upon the school’s request. On 31 March, students toured the Slave River site where they were briefed by the site manager. It is believed that enslaved Africans from northern Ghana and other West African countries were held at Slave River to receive their last bath, be auctioned and get branded before being taken to the slave castle in Cape Coast and transported out of the country.  Based on the students’ feedback, the Slave River tour was particularly enlightening as even the students from the region acknowledged that that they had not known about the role of the river in the transatlantic slave trade.

Participants in Brazzaville hold calendars featuring The Ark of Return (UNIC Brazzaville)

Participants in Brazzaville hold calendars featuring
The Ark of Return (UNIC Brazzaville)

Brazzaville, Congo

More than 50 university students attended a screening organised by UNIC Brazzaville of the documentary film “Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess,” which was written, produced and directed by Roy Anderson.  Following the screening, there was a presentation by a university professor on the transatlantic slave trade and the contributions of enslaved Africans to their new societies.  Students were then led in a discussion about the presentation.  Wall calendars featuring The Ark of Return, the Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade at the United Nations, were distributed to all participants.

Dakar, Senegal

 “Remember Slavery” poster exhibit in Senegal (UNIC Dakar)

“Remember Slavery” poster exhibit in Senegal (UNIC Dakar)

In partnership with the Gorée Memorial, UNIC Dakar displayed the poster exhibit “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development” at the Chambre de Commerce, d’Industire et d’Agriculture de Dakar (CCIAD).  The exhibit opening featured remarks by the Secretary General of the Gorée Memorial, the Director of Cultural Heritage Department and UNIC Dakar’s Officer in Charge. There was also a cultural performance by dancer and choreographer Baïdy Bâ. Following the exhibit opening, there was a public panel discussion on the contributions of people of African descent to contemporary music in Africa.  The panel consisted of: Mr. Amadou Lamine Sall. Secretary General of the Gorée Mémorial; Mr. Abdou Aziz Mbaye, Minister and Special Advisor to the President and Chairman of the Board of the Gorée Mémorial; Mr. Ndiouga Benga, Professor at Dakar University; and Mr. Abdoul Aziz Guisse, Director of the Cultural Heritage Department.  The event was also attended by ten media outlets, which published stories on the occasion. More information in French on UNIC Dakar’s event can be found here.

Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania

Students on educational field trip in Tanzania (UNIC Dar es Salaam)

Students on educational field trip in Tanzania
(UNIC Dar es Salaam)

UNIC Dar es Salaam organized a two day educational field trip to the slave ruins in Kilwa District.  Participants included 50 students and two teachers from several schools in Dar es Salaam and Kilwa, as well as representatives from two media outlets. On the first day, students visited the old German Fort in Kilwa Kivinje, which was once used to hold slaves. Students also visited slave trading sites, where they asked questions about the slave trade to the tour guide and local residents. The UNIC also conducted interviews with the residents in Kiswahili for United Nations Radio. The following day, students, teachers and the media were welcomed by the Kilwa District Commissioner, Mr. Christopher Ndubiagai, who briefed them on the history of Kilwa.  He encouraged the students to study their history, engage in nation building, respect the human rights of others and maintain peace. The UNIC also displayed the exhibit, “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development” which was officially declared open by the Commissioner.  The exhibit attracted many students and residents of Kilwa.  The UNIC delivered a presentation on slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, and the United Nations Secretary-General’s statement to mark the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade was read aloud in Kiswahili to increase students’ understanding. The students and teachers also visited Kilwa’s largest fort, which is located on Kilwa Kisiwani, a small island about 20 minutes from the shoreline.  This was a rich learning experience for the students as they visited UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the houses of the Sultans who ran the slave trade business and the large trading market in Husuni Kubwa.  Students were informed that Kilwa Kisiwani was the most famous trading port in East Africa, with traded goods having included ivory, gold, cloth, beads, iron, animal hides, and enslaved Africans, including pregnant women.

Harare, Zimbabwe

On 27 March more than 40 university students and representatives from the Embassies of Angola, Kenya and the United Kingdom attended a commemorative event organised by UNIC Harare at the city’s Meikles Hotel.  The event began with a display of the poster exhibit “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development”.  Copies of the United Nations Secretary-General’s statement to mark the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, as well as wall calendars featuring The Ark of Return, the Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade at the United Nations, were distributed to all guests upon arrival. During the formal ceremony which followed the exhibition, UNIC Harare provided context and background for the commemoration.  There was also a presentation by Hon. David Hamadziripi, Director of Multilateral Affairs at Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The audience later watched the documentary film “They Are We”, which was followed by a stimulating discussion led by the Hon. David Hamadziripi.   The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation provided coverage of the entire event and aired it several times on their television station. Following the commemorative event, UNIC Harare was invited to host another screening of the film and display the exhibit at the Catholic University to help educate and raise awareness among other students. 

Lagos, Nigeria

“Remember Slavery” rally in Nigeria (UNIC Lagos)

“Remember Slavery” rally in Nigeria (UNIC Lagos)

In partnership with the government of Cross River State in southeastern Nigeria, UNIC Lagos organised an educational briefing for students at the West African Peoples Institute (WAPI) in the city of Calabar.  The event was attended by more than 200 students from ten high schools. In a presentation to the students, UNIC Lagos explained the significance of the 2017 theme, “Remember Slavery: Recognising the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent”.
The Governor of Calabar was represented by the Commissioner of the Ministry of International Development Cooperation, Hon. Francis Ettah.  In his remarks, Commissioner Ettah acknowledged that Calabar was an ideal venue to host a “Remember Slavery” event in Nigeria as it was a slave port during the transatlantic slave trade.  He also noted that the Calabar Slave Museum had been established in 2007, the same year as the United Nations Remember Slavery Programme. Prior to the briefing, there was a public awareness rally led by UNIC Lagos, Commissioner Ettah and Dr. Gabriel Akpeke, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of International Development Cooperation. The rally promoted “Remember Slavery” messaging. Starting at the Government Secretariat, it ended at the WAPI building. The event also included a screening of the documentary film “Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess”, a performance by the WAPI school choir, a display of the poster exhibit “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development” and a visit to the Slave History Museum at Marina Resort in Calabar.

Lomé, Togo

Student briefing in Togo (UNIC Lomé)

Student briefing in Togo (UNIC Lomé)

UNIC Lomé organized several events to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.  On 30 March, more than 175 students participated in a conference at the University of Lomé. UNIC Lomé explained the history and significance of the commemoration, and presentations about slavery were delivered by the Head of the University’s Department of History and Archeology, as well as a Professor of Contemporary History. After the presentations, students watched and discussed the documentary film “Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess”. On 31 March, there was a briefing for 319 participants, including students and professors from the Lycée Agoè Center, Lycée Ghégnédzi and Notre Dame des Apôtres in Lomé.  Presenters included a Professor of History at the Collegè Notre Dame de Lomé.  Following the presentations, students viewed and discussed the film, “They Are We”. UNIC Lomé also arranged for 120 students to visit two slavery memorials in Agbodrafo, Togo – the House of Slaves (“Wood Home”) and the Well of the Enchained Persons (“Gatovudo”). It is believed that the Well of the Enchained Persons was the last place in Africa that enslaved Africans could be bathed and “purified” before being sent to the Americas. The commemoration activities also included a radio broadcast, and calendars and brochures featuring The Ark of Return, the Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade at the United Nations, were distributed at all activities and shared with other United Nations offices in Lomé.

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Students at educational event in Burkina Faso (UNIC Ouagadougou)

Students at educational event in Burkina Faso
(UNIC Ouagadougou)

More than 4,300 visitors viewed the poster exhibit “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development” that was displayed at UNIC Ouagadougou from 24 to 27 March.  Visitors included Government officials, diplomats, students, researchers, members of civil society and the media. In partnership with the History Department of the University of Ouagadougou, the UNIC also hosted briefings in ten high schools across Ouagadougou. The presentations focused on the 2017 theme, “Remember Slavery: Recognising the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent”.   Approximately 2,000 students and teachers participated in these sessions.  United Nations information materials on slavery and the transatlantic slave trade ware provided to each participating school. For more information in French about UNIC Ouagadougou’s event, please click here.

Pretoria, South Africa

More than 160 students from Lynnwood Ridge Primary School in Pretoria joined the UNIC for its commemoration. Highlighting the 2017 theme, “Remember Slavery: Recognising the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent”, the UNIC representative made a presentation on slavery, its relevance to the Sustainable Development Goals and the need to address issues such as inequalities, racism and xenophobia, which are still evident in South Africa today. The event also included the screening of the documentary film “Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess”, which helped to teach students about slavery and the need to restore dignity to all victims of slavery.

South African students hold red hands to symbolize the end of slavery (UNIC Pretoria)

South African students hold red hands to symbolize
the end of slavery (UNIC Pretoria)

Students later participated in a poetry exercise, in which they chanted “Slavery is cruel. We must have respect for each other, each other’s humanity and each other’s culture; therefore we can no longer ignore slavery.  We are equal. Let us stop slavery.  Let is abolish slavery all over the world”. As the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade coincided with South Africa Library Week, it was an opportune time for the UNIC Library to display the poster exhibit “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development”.  Based on the feedback, the exhibit had a memorable and positive impact on clients and visitors – especially the young people who gained more insights about slavery and the contributions of people of African descent to the development of societies around the world. Lynnwood Ridge Primary School was also presented with an additional set of posters to help them teach about slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. More information on UNIC Pretoria’s event can be found here.

Yaoundé, Cameroon

“Remember Slavery” poster exhibit in Cameroon (UNIC Yaoundé)

“Remember Slavery” poster exhibit in Cameroon
(UNIC Yaoundé)

On 24 March, UNIC Yaoundé held an educational talk for more than 175 students from La Gaieté International School Complex on the theme “Remember Slavery: Recognising the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent”. The UNIC briefed on the ways in which enslaved Africans helped to shape and develop the societies in which they found themselves. Stressing how the inhumane treatment of enslaved Africans was a violation of human rights, he encouraged students to denounce any acts of racism, discrimination or violence. Students later watched “Slave Routes: A Global Vision”, a documentary produced by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). They were then quizzed about what they learned and won prizes, including t-shirts and pens, if they supplied the correct responses.  They also viewed and were quizzed about the documentary film “Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess”.  All participants received an information kit, which included a copy of the Secretary-General’s message; background on the 2017 theme, the transatlantic slave trade and slavery; a brochure on The Ark of Return; and United Nations Remember Slavery Programme notebooks. Following the films, students were led on a guided tour of the exhibit “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development”. The exhibit was displayed in both English and French. More information on UNIC Yaoundé’s event can be found here.

AMERICAS

Bogotá, Colombia

Afro-Colombian cultural performance in Colombia (UNIC Bogotá)

Afro-Colombian cultural performance in Colombia
(UNIC Bogotá)

On 23 March, UNIC Bogotá organised three activities in partnership with the Claretiana University Foundation. The day’s events were all hosted at the Claretiana University in Quibdó, the capital of Colombia’s state of Chocó, which is an important centre of Afro-Colombian history and culture. More than 100 students and teachers attended. The events included a group discussion about the legacy and contributions of people of African descent in Colombia. It was moderated by UNIC Director Helene Papper, and panelists included Claretiana University Vice Chancellor Haminton Reteria and Afro-Colombian historian Sergio Mosquera.  There was also a screening of the documentary film “Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess”.  Students later had a chance to visit and ask questions about the poster exhibit “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development” that was displayed throughout the event.  The exhibit was later transferred to the Centre for Memory, Peace, and Reconciliation in Bogotá. A Spanish language video about UNIC Bogotá’s commemoration can be found here.

Screening of “Queen Nanny” in Trinidad (UNIC Port of Spain)

Screening of “Queen Nanny” in Trinidad (UNIC Port of Spain)

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

UNIC Port of Spain collaborated with the National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to host a screening of the documentary film “Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess”. It also displayed the poster exhibit “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development”. The event was attended by around 70 students and teachers from St. Joseph’s Convent School and Queens Royal College Secondary School. Students were also briefed on the background and significance of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its 2017 theme. United Nations Remember Slavery Programme notebooks, wall calendars featuring The Ark of Return and brochures on the International Decade for People of African Descent were distributed. 

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

Educational event in Australia (UNIC Canberra)

Educational event in Australia (UNIC Canberra)

Canberra, Australia

More than 100 people attended a seminar organised by UNIC Canberra, Anti-Slavery Australia and the University of Technology in Sydney. The keynote speaker was Aminata Conteh-Biger, a former sex slave in Sierra Leone who founded a maternal health foundation and showed how the African diaspora had made significant contributions to societies around the world.  The event included the opening of the exhibit “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development”, which was displayed at the university library.  The UNIC Director provided the audience with background about the exhibit and read aloud the United Nations Secretary-General’s message for the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. More information on UNIC Canberra’s event in Sydney can be found here.

Indian students learn about contributions of the African diaspora (UNIC New Delhi)

Indian students learn about contributions of the African
diaspora (UNIC New Delhi)

New Delhi, India

UNIC New Delhi displayed the poster exhibit “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development” at Jawaharlal Nehru University from 25 to 30 March.  It was also displayed at the Lalit Kala Akademi in New Delhi from 1 to 7 April.  The exhibit provided an opportunity for students to learn more about the work of the United Nations Remember Slavery Programme and the International Decade for People of African Descent.


EUROPE

Brussels, Belgium

Dutch-language version of “Remember Slavery” poster exhibit in Belgium (UNRIC Brussels)

Dutch-language version of “Remember Slavery” poster exhibit
in Belgium (UNRIC Brussels)

The Brussels based United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC) translated the poster exhibit “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development” into Dutch and distributed both the Dutch and French posters to two Dutch-speaking and three French-speaking schools in Belgium.  The schools displayed the exhibit and focused their related lessons on the 2017 theme. The posters will continue to be used throughout the year.  The exhibit was also displayed at the University of Ghent from 27 March to 7 April.

Geneva, Switzerland

The United Nations Office at Geneva displayed the poster exhibit “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development” in English and French in the Palais des Nations.  There was also a digital display of the English version in the Hall des Pas Perdus.  A copy of the United Nations Secretary-General’s message for the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade was distributed to all accredited media at the Palais des Nations.

Yerevan, Armenia

Armenian students view “Remember Slavery” poster exhibit in Russian and English (UNIC Yerevan)

Armenian students view “Remember Slavery” poster exhibit
in Russian and English (UNIC Yerevan)

The United Nations Office in Yerevan hosted students from the towns of Noramarg and Sayat-Nova in the Ararat Province. They were briefed on the history, causes, consequences and legacy of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. Students also watched and discussed “Slave Route: The Soul of Resistance” a documentary by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The discussion focused on issues of racism, discrimination, tolerance, xenophobia, human rights and other United Nations values, and how those themes were relevant to contemporary Armenian society. Students were later divided into two groups to prepare for a debate about the issues discussed. After the debate exercise, the students were encouraged to view the poster exhibit “Remembering Slavery: Recognition, Justice and Development” and received educational materials about the 2017 theme. More information on the Yerevan event can be found here.

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