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UN cites power of monuments at screening of film on Senegal’s Gorée memorial

28 February 2020 – The United Nations Remember Slavery Programme joined the World Foundation for the Memorial and Safeguarding of Gorée at a film screening hosted by the Permanent Mission of Senegal today.

The film, called “Gorée-Almadies: Recognizing Transatlanticity”, introduced Senegal’s planned memorial to honour Africa, the global African diaspora, and the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, and took viewers through the process of turning this vision into reality.

In her opening statement, Maha El-Bahrawi, Deputy Director of the United Nations Department of Global Communications’ Outreach Division, said that, although the transatlantic slave trade came to an end in the nineteenth century, its troubling legacies, including racism, were still with us today.

Noting that the story of Senegal’s Gorée Island was intertwined with the transatlantic slave trade, she said, “Only through remembering and acknowledging the past can we hope to tackle the obstacles that are still holding our societies back. And that is where memorials come in. Monuments and memorials play a crucial role in preserving and managing memory.”

Referring to the United Nations’ permanent memorial to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, known as “The Ark of Return,” she stated, “Our societies need memorials. They are not just works of art. They are powerful reminders of who we are, what we are capable of, and what we should aspire to as a global community.”

She added, “Through building, maintaining and promoting monuments -- together with our partners -- we will provide spaces to reflect. We will ensure that our forebearers’ memories are shared with generations to come.”

Also speaking were: Saliou Niang Dieng, Minister Counsellor and chargé d'affaires of the Permanent Mission of Senegal; Malick Kane, Coordinator of the Gorée Memorial Project and the film’s director; Sheila Walker, Executive Director of Afrodiaspora, Inc; and Peggy King Jorde, former Memorialization Director at the African Burial Ground National Monument.

The event was timed to coincide with Black History Month and featured fashion from Africa and the African diaspora.

UN Web Services Section, Department of Global Communications, © United Nations