Category Archives: International Day of remembrance of the victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Students shocked to see relics of slave trade as UNIC Lagos takes slavery remembrance to Slave Port

Single shotThe setting was in Badagry, a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designated Slave Trade Route and widely noted as a key port in the export of slaves to the Americas. A walk through the semi-urban historic town revealed a vivid reflections of the place the town occupies in the tragic history of Slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Interestingly, the community boasts of several slave trade museums, most of which are private, established by families whose forefathers were direct victims of slavery or collaborators of slave traders.

Badagry was, no doubt, a perfect location to commemorate the International Day of remembrance of victims of slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade commemorated every 25 March. The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in partnership with African Rennaisance Foundation, organised series of activities to mark the day. These included Arts Exhibition on the 2015 theme: ‘Women and Slavery’; screening of ‘They are we’ film; students’ briefing; awareness rally; slave dance/cultural display and visits to two Slave Trade Museums and the Slave Port.Slave dance - cultural display

“This year’s Day of Remembrance, according to the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, “pays particular tribute to the many women who suffered and died during the slave trade. … Women slaves played a key role in maintaining the dignity of their communities. Too often their leadership and brave resistance have been underestimated or forgotten.”Rally 2

Students, youths and women clad in UNIC- ‘Remember Slavery’ branded T-shirts and Headbands/Bandana, had gathered at the Badagry Town Hall as early as 8.30 in the morning ready to storm the streets of the ancient town to sensitise the inhabitants about the gory history of slavery and the need to avoid modern slavery. Singing anti-slavery songs, the crowd snaked through the streets and made the first stop at Mobee Slave Trade museum rich in relics of slavery such as the ankles and neck shackles; the mouth locks; the Canons; etc. A student of Methodist Grammar School, Badagry who attempted to carry the neck shackles screamed on realising the weight which the curator said to be about 100kg. The students were shocked about the fact that it was meant to be put on a human’s neck.Exhibition - Seyi as Curator

The next stop was at Seriki Faremi Williams Abass Slave Museum where the students and other participants inspected the slave cells, and had the ankle shackles demonstrated. Recounting his experience after volunteering to be ankle-locked with the Executive Director of African Rennaisance Foundation Hon. Babatunde Mesewaku, the National Information Officer of UNIC, Oluseyi Soremekun, said it was physically painful and mentally disturbing as there was no freedom of movement, no freedom from violence and very traumatic. When the ankle locks were removed few minutes after, it left a ‘Bangle mark’ on the ankles.

Oluseyi Soremekun volunteers to be ankle-locked

Oluseyi Soremekun volunteers to be ankle-locked

At the briefing and discussion session attended by the paramount ruler of Badagry, His Majesty, De Wheno Aholu Menu-Toyi I (OFR,LL.D, D.Litt, JP), The Akran of Badagry Kingdom who was represented by His Honour, High Chief (Dr) Owheton Ahumbe II, the Agoloto of Badagry, the message of the UN Secretary General (SG) was delivered in English and Yoruba Languages by UNIC Lagos National Information Officer.

 

In his message, Ki-moon noted that ‘tragically, slavery has still not ended’ as it ‘stubbornly persists in many parts of the world, in the form of forced labour, trafficking, sexual exploitation or captivity in slavery-like conditions.’  He observed that those despicable practices could not exist without deep-seated racism; and underscored the importance of educateing people about the Transatlantic slave trade and how intolerance could easily shift from an attitude into acts of hatred and violence.

Oluseyi Soremekun attempts the neck shackles

Oluseyi Soremekun attempts the neck shackles

Screening of the film, 'They are we'

Screening of the film, ‘They are we’

The SG therefore, called for ‘a renewal of our commitment to end modern slavery, so our children will live in a world free of racism and prejudice with equal opportunity and rights for all.’

Speaking, the Executive Director of African Rennaisance Foundation, Hon. Babatunde Mesewaku, provided a historical insight into Slave Trade in Badagry and urged the students and other participants to remember slavery and shun all acts capable of bringing back the sad memory of the slave trade era.

In his address to the audience, His Majesty, De Wheno Aholu Menu-Toyi I, The Akran of Badagry Kingdom, urged parents who were in the habit of giving out their children to other people to raise because of poverty should desist from such act as those children ended up being subjected to slavery-like conditions.

His Honour, High Chief (Dr) Owheton Ahumbe II, the Agoloto of Badagry speaks

His Honour, High Chief (Dr) Owheton Ahumbe II, the Agoloto of Badagry speaks

De Wheno Aholu Menu-Toyi I, The Akran of Badagry Kingdom, urged parents who were in the habit of giving out their children to other people to raise because of poverty should desist from such act as those children ended up being subjected to slavery-like conditions.

Nigerian and Zambian students called for empowerment of women to end modern day Slavery

seyi and the students 2

UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, moderates the discussion

Nigerian and Zambian students have unanimously called for the empowerment of women as one of the ways of ending modern day slavery where girls are the target. ‘When poverty is eradicated amongst women, they would be less vulnerable’, they explained during an interactive video conference.

The interaction through WebEx connection between the   United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos and UNIC Lusaka, was facilitated by the United Nations (UN) Department of Public Information (DPI), New York, as a prelude to the observance of the International Day of Remembrance of the victims of Slavery and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade which comes up on Wednesday 25 March 2015.

A student of Intesida Schools contributing to discussion

A student of Intesida Schools contributing to discussion

Discussing the 2015 theme, ‘Women and Slavery’, the students emphasized the need for governments across the world to strengthen anti-slavery agencies as well as regulatory bodies in charge of labour force, paying attention to workers’ welfare and safety in work places.

The students identified human trafficking, abduction of girls, forced labour, child labour, forced marriage, among others, as examples of modern day slavery.

A student from Southfield Academy contributing to discussion

A student from Southfield Academy contributing to discussion

During her intervention, the Chief of Programme Support Section, Information Centres Services, DPI, New York, Ms Danielle Loff, told the students that modern day slavery was not peculiar to Nigeria, Zambia or the African continent, but also happened in other continents of the world. She expressed her delight that through the discussion, the students were better informed about those things that could lead to their enslavement and therefore would be on guard when confronted with such a situation.

A teacher from Intesida Schools speaking

A teacher from Intesida Schools speaking

Earlier, the Public Information Officer for the Programme Support Section, , DPI, New York, and the Desk Officer for UN Information Centres/Services/Offices in Africa, Europe and the Arab states, Mr Newton Kanhema, welcomed the students from both countries and initiated talk on UN@70 shortly before the commencement of the session on ‘Women and Slavery’.

A cross-section of the students

A cross-section of the students

The session, moderated jointly by the National Information Officer, UNIC Lagos, Oluseyi Soremekun and his counterpart in UNIC Lusaka, Charles Nonde, was attended by selected students from Intesida Schools, Alagbado Lagos and Southfield Academy, Bariga Lagos.

A cross-section of the students

A cross-section of the students

Last year, similar WebEx session was organized by the DPI New York headquarters during which UNIC Lagos was paired with UNIC Harare as part of activities to mark the International Day of Remembrance of the victims of Slavery and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

UNIC Lagos holds rally, film show, video conference, in honour of victims of slavery

In pursuance of its commitment to strengthening public awareness about international observances, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos, recently organised awareness rally and film screening to commemorate the 2014 International Day of remembrance of the victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. This year’s remembrance coincides with the 20th year of UNESCO Slave Route Project.

Awareness Rally

Awareness Rally


Attracting over 200 people, the International Day of remembrance of the victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade started with an awareness rally across some streets of Lagos after which the film, “Akwantu – The Journey” was screened to the audience comprising of five secondary schools, twelve NGOs and twelve media organizations.
A cross section of participants watching the film, 'Akwantu - The Journey'

A cross section of participants watching the film, ‘Akwantu – The Journey’

The awareness rally which was spiced up with dances and sonorous renditions of exciting anti-slavery songs, attracted the attention of motorists and pedestrians. While some took pictures of the “UN-blue” procession, others applauded and danced along. The rally terminated at the UNIC office, the venue of the film screening and other presentations.

A Nigeria student discusses with her fellow students in Harare, Zimbabwe during the video conference.

A Nigerian student discusses with her fellow students in Harare, Zimbabwe during the video conference.


Welcoming the guests, the Senior Public Information Officer of UNIC, Lagos, Envera Selimovic, urged the participants to eschew all acts of oppression and coercion of disadvantaged persons which were the hallmarks of the transatlantic slave trade.
A student speaking during a video conference between students in UNIC Lagos premises and their counterparts in Harare, Zimbabwe

A student speaking during a video conference between students in UNIC Lagos premises and their counterparts in Harare, Zimbabwe


‘By recalling the causes, consequences and lessons of the transatlantic slave trade, we recommit to educating current and future generations of the dangers of racism and prejudice.’ The Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said in his message on the observance. He added that the theme of this year’s observance, “Victory over Slavery: Haiti and Beyond”, was a tribute to the fight against slavery in nations around the world.
In his keynote address on this year’s theme, “Victory over Slavery: Haiti and Beyond”, the Executive Director of African Anti-Slavery Coalition (ASLAC), Mr Olufemi Phillips, recounted the history of Slave Trade and observed that this year also marked 210 years since the Republic of Haiti became the first nation to win independence as a result of the struggle of enslaved men and women. He called on Nigerians to guide against modern day slavery as exemplified by child labour, child abuse and forced labour, among others.
Executive Director, African Anti-Slavery Coalition (ASLAC), delivers a keynote address on the theme, 'Victory over Slavery: Haiti and Beyond´

Executive Director, African Anti-Slavery Coalition (ASLAC), delivers a keynote address on the theme, ‘Victory over Slavery: Haiti and Beyond´


As part of the activities marking the Day, the UN-DPI New York headquarters organised a video conference between some Nigerian students gathered in the UNIC Lagos office and their counterparts in Harare, Zimbabwe which afforded them an opportunity to interact and exchange ideas about the film, ‘Akwantu – The Journey’.
In their discussions, the students expressed their admiration of the courage of the Maroons who braved the oppressive circumstances and decided to settle in a place that was extremely not conducive for habitation as a prelude to their freedom. They noted that courage, perseverance and unity were the qualities that won them freedom.Participants watching film.jpg 2
Speaking during the video conference, the National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, urged the students from both countries to imbibe the spirit teamwork, perseverance and unity of purpose in their endeavours.