“The transatlantic slave trade was one of history’s most appalling manifestations of human barbarity. We must never forget the crimes and impacts in Africa and beyond. We honour them by standing up against ongoing forms of slavery, by raising awareness of the dangers of racism,” said the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his message on the 2019 International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the TransAtlantic Slave Trade commemorated in Nigeria on 25 March 2019 at Badagry, a Slave Trade port over 400 years ago.
The UN Secretary General, in the message read by the National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, explained that the United Nations Remember Slavery Programme was aimed at ensuring that the lessons of Slavery were learned and heeded today. “We need to tell the stories of those who stood up against their oppressors, and recognize their righteous resistance.” He added, “On this International Day of Remembrance, we pay homage to the millions of African men, women and children who were denied their humanity and forced to endure such abominable cruelty.”
Organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria and Lagos Education District V, the Observance held at Badagry Grammar School, was attended by 1,200 students, School Principals, Teachers, Traditional Rulers and some parents. The educational programme featured a visit to the Mobee Royal Family Slave Relics Museum, Badagry and the Badagry Heritage Museum; Poster Exhibition and series of drama presentations by the various schools in attendance.
Speaking further, the National Information Officer who represented the Director, Mr Ronald Kayanja, called on parents and guardians to shun all forms of modern day slavery including child labour and human trafficking. ‘The grass is always not green on the other side’, he added.
Slave trade, according to him, was racism and prejudice in practice as Africans were the main targets leading to an extensive exodus of Africans spread to many areas of the world over a 400-year period which was unprecedented in the annals of recorded human history.
Dr Soremekun disclosed that in commemoration of the memory of the victims, the General Assembly, in its resolution 62/122 of 17 December 2007, declared 25 March the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, to be observed annually, to inculcate in future generations the “causes, consequences and lessons of the transatlantic slave trade, and to communicate the dangers of racism and prejudice.
In her address, the Tutor General/ Permanent Secretary of Lagos Education District V, Mrs Anike Adekanye, noted that Slavery in any form was evil and should not be condoned in the modern society. She urged the students to be bold to report teachers, parents, uncles and anyone that attempted to subject them to any form of abuse or inhuman treatment be it in school or at home.
She, therefore, shared with the students and other members of the audience, the telephone numbers of the Police in the Badagry area and the Lagos State child protection office with the audience.
The Observance of the International Day of #RememberSlavery at Badagry Grammar School was indeed a memorable one, as students highlighted the brutality of slavery, the harms of modern day slavery, human trafficking and forced labour through dance, music, poetry and drama.
In the exhibition of twenty-one posters titled, “Remember Slavery: Say It Loud”, the students were briefed on the contribution of architects of African descent to various sectors of the American society and promoting their professional development. The various designs have also given voice to the African diaspora consciousness.
The students later visited the Mobee Royal Family Slave Relics Museum, Badagry, the Badagry Heritage Museum and the Royal Palace Mobee of Badagry Kingdom where they came into contact with the relics of Slavery. The visit to the museum was significant because Badagry was a slave trade commercial centre and a major port for the transportation of enslaved African people.
Badagry is a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designated Slave Trade Route and widely noted as a major port in the export of slaves to the Americas.