Exhibition ‘Africans in India: From Slaves to Generals and Rulers’ Opens at United Nations Headquarters on 17 February

Note No.6471
12 February 2016

Exhibition ‘Africans in India: From Slaves to Generals and Rulers’ Opens at United Nations Headquarters on 17 February

A formal opening ceremony for the exhibition “Africans in India:  From Slaves to Generals and Rulers” will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, 17 February, in the Visitors’ Lobby at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The event is organized by the Department of Public Information’s Remember Slavery Programme and presented in partnership with the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations.  The exhibition, which will be on display at the United Nations until 30 March, is created by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library.

Curated by Sylviane A. Diouf, Director of the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery at the Schomburg Center, and Kenneth X. Robbins, collector and expert in Indian art, the exhibition tells the history of enslaved East Africans in India, known as Sidis and Habshis, who rose to positions of military and political authority.

Through colourful photographs and texts, the show conveys that their success was also a testimony to the open-mindedness of Indian society, in which they were a small religious and ethnic minority, originally of low status.  The exhibition also sheds light on the slave trade in the Indian Ocean and the history of Africa and its diaspora in India.

The exhibition was mounted at the Paris headquarters of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in September 2014 and travelled to several cities in India.  It was also displayed at the third Africa-India Forum Summit in New Delhi in October 2015.

Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, will welcome guests to the opening ceremony, which will include remarks by Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations and Ms. Diouf.

The exhibition is part of the observance of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which is commemorated every year on 25 March.  The theme for this year’s observance is “Remember Slavery:  Celebrating the Heritage and Culture of the African Diaspora and its Roots.”

The United Nations Remember Slavery Programme was established by the General Assembly in 2007 to honour the memory of the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.  It aims to provide an understanding of the causes, consequences and lessons of the slave trade, as well as raise awareness of the dangers of racism and prejudice today.

For additional information on the programme, please contact Omyma David, focal point, at e-mail:  david17@un.org, or visit www.un.org/en/events/slaveryremembranceday.

The United Nations Visitors’ Lobby is open to the public from Monday to Friday in January and February, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Government-issued photo identification is required to enter the premises.

For more information on United Nations exhibitions, please contact Renata Morteo at tel.:  +1 212 963 5455, or e-mail:  morteo@un.org.

For information media. Not an official record.