International Day for the remembrance of the slave trade and its abolition

International Day for the remembrance of the slave trade and its abolition

International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition is celebrated on 23 August, every year, around the globe. The aim of observing the day is memorialising millions of people who were the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade during the colonial rule. The day is used for educating people about the events associated with the slave trade and its consequences.

 

Facts about International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition

Observed on 23 August
First Celebrated  Haiti (23 August 1998) and Goree in Senegal (23 August 1999).
Designated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

 

 

About International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition

  • The night of 22 to 23 August 1791, in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) saw the beginning of the uprising that played a significantl role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
  • This is the reason that the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is commemorated on 23 August each year.
  • It was on this day that the uprising set in motion a chain of events that opened ways for the abolition of trans-Atlantic slave trade.
  • The day was first celebrated in a number of countries, in particular in Haiti (23 August 1998) and Goree in Senegal (23 August 1999).
  • UNESCO designated this day to remember and honour the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples who were dehumanised by the cruel practice or systemic racism.

What is Slave Trade?

  • During imperial times, racist ideology was a basis for unjust political, social and economic practices which ultimately helped imperial powers in building their economies. Slave trade was thus the result of imperialism and racism.
  • Trans-Atlantic Slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of enslaved African people, mainly to the Americas. It remains one of the darkest chapters of human history where one particular race of human beings was bought and sold as commodities.
  • Indentured slave trade from India started in 1834 and lasted up till 1922, which resulted in the growth of a large diaspora with Indo-Caribbean, Indo-African and Indo-Malaysian heritage that continue to live in the Caribbean, Fiji, Réunion, Natal, Mauritius, Malaysia etc

Read about the Atlantic Slave trade in the linked article.

Background of International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition

  • On the night of 22 to 23 August 1791, men and women from Africa who were sold into slavery, revolted against the slave system, in Santo Domingo to obtain freedom and independence for Haiti. This started the Haitian Revolution, which proved to be a turning point in human history.
  • This Revolution initiated a process of change regarding slavery throughout the America.
  • The UN chose this date and adopted the resolution 29 C/40 in the 29th session of the General Conference of UNESCO and then a circular from the Director-General was sent on 29 July, 1998 to invite Ministers of Culture to promote this day.

Significance of International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition

  • UNESCO aims to highlight the need of spreading awareness regarding history of the slave trade in order for people to acknowledge the impact of slavery on modern world.
  • The day is intended honour and remember all peoples who were dehumanised by the cruel practice or systemic racism during the trans-Atlantic slave trade
  • The day is an opportunity to analyse the historical causes and methods which led to such a system and the consequences of this practice.
  • The day signifies that one should continue to analyse and criticise such practices that may transform into modern forms of slavery and exploitation.
  • UNESCO has launched an international, intercultural project called ‘The Slave Route’ for the documenting and conducting an analysis of the interactions to which it has given rise between Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean.

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