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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.