Today is International Day For the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition. STAMP, the Slave Trade Arts Memorial Project, on Columbus Day, 10th October 2005 announced the official unveiling and dedication of ‘CAPTURED AFRICANS‘ a memorial for the victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on the quayside in Lancaster, close to the Millennium Bridge.
The memorial was conceived and developed by Manchester-based artist Kevin Dalton-Johnson as the culmination of an extensive education outreach program involving over 300 children around the district working with ten supporting artists. Its realization was made possible with the Millennium Commission Lottery funding.
Earlier that year, in Bristol, a resident asked where in that city he could pour his libation and honour his ancestors. Unlike other places that have shied away from moments of history that they are least proud of, Lancaster now has a sensitive marker to the loss of life and liberty of so many African people. Kevin Dalton-Johnson’s ‘CAPTURED AFRICANS’ offers a place to pause and think, a place for quiet reflection on the human cost of this history. The dedication of the memorial was followed by the launching of a willow boat of offerings of atonement and remembrance into the River Lune. The formal ceremony closed with a drumming performance by young people involved with the project.
The night of 22 to 23 August 1791, in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) saw the beginning of the uprising that would play a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is intended to inscribe the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade (and to be honest, there really was no “trade” about it at all; if anything, it was a business form of mass genocide), in the memory of all peoples. In accordance with the goals of the intercultural project “The Slave Route”, it should offer an opportunity for collective consideration of the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of this mass human tragedy, and for an analysis of the interactions to which it has given rise between Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean, to recognize the considerable contributions of the enslaved Africans who were forcibly kidnapped from their ancestral homelands and to celebrate the exceptional cultural diversity that resulted from this contact.
International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition was first celebrated in a number of countries in particular in Haiti (August 23, 1998) and Goree in Senegal (August 23 1999). Cultural events and debates as well were organized. The year 2001 saw the participation of the Mulhouse Textile Museum in France in the form of a workshop for fabrics called “Indiennes de Traite” (a type of calico) which served as a currency for the exchange of slaves in the 17TH and 18TH Centuries.
“Captured Africans”, Kevin Dalton Johnson’s, quayside work, Lancaster UK