» History in dialogue on memories of the slave trade and slavery
22.08.2011 - Culture Sector

History in dialogue on memories of the slave trade and slavery

© www.unslaverymemorial.org - Allegory of the Transatlantic Slave Trade route

Launched by UNESCO in 1998, the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition, commemorated on 23 August every year, pays tribute to the millions of men, women and children who were victims of slavery. This Day is intended to inscribe in the memory of all people of the world the slave revolt that erupted on the eve of 23 August 1791 in Saint Domingue, the island containing present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This revolt was instrumental in the abolition of one of the most extreme violations of human rights in the history of humanity.

As part of the objectives of the UNESCO intercultural flagship project, “The Slave Route”, the International Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the historical causes, the particularities and consequences of this tragedy and to analyze the interactions it has generated between Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean.

The activities organized throughout the world in conjunction with this commemoration will help achieve the objectives set for 2011, which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year for People of African Descent. In addition, 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the Declaration against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance, adopted in 2001 in Durban, South Africa.

It is estimated to more than 12.5 million the number of Africans deported to the Americas and the Caribbean to be enslaved. The consequences of this odious traffic are still present in our societies today.


Commemorative activities:

UNESCO: Message from Irina Bokova, Director-General, on the occasion of International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, 23 August 2011

Tribute to Victims of Slavery: International Design Competition 



  • Angola: Conference on the theme "Escravos angolanos povoaram tambem as Antilhas Neerlandesas" (“Angolan slaves also populated the Netherlands Antilles), organized by the Eduardo dos Santos Foundation, at the Augustino Neto University in Luanda. 23 August
  • Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Workshop on the achievements of the Slave Route project in the DRC, with the presentation of The Slave Trade, Slavery and Colonial Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, published in 2010. This initiative will also provide a framework for considering the implementation of future activities. 23 August (More)
  • Ghana: Workshop on the slave trade for educators from three regions of the world , Accra, 11 – 13 August(More)
  • Madagascar: screening of the documentary, Slave Routes: A Global Vision, at the University of Antananarivo, 23 August
  • Senegal: Various awareness-raising and educational activities: panel discussion, painting and photo exhibition,  cultural and artistic activities at the Joseph Ndiaye Socio-cultural Centre in Gorée, 23 August (More)


Latin America

  • Argentina: African Descent / Traces and Identities – an exhibition of works by photographer Ricardo Preve , Villa O Campo, 11 August – 11September, 2011 (More)
  • Colombia: Ibero-American encounter of cultures and communities of African descent, Cali, 23 –24 August 2011 (More in Spanish)
  • Honduras: World Summit of People of African Descent, La Ceiba, 18 –21 August 2011 (More)
  • Uruguay: presentation of the Slave Route project by the UNESCO Office in Montevideo and screening of the UNESCO documentary "Slave Routes: a Global Vision" at the Alliance Française, Montevideo, 23 August (More)

The Caribbean

In the Caribbean, the months of July and August are enlivened by the celebration of Emancipation Day, which commemorates the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies colonies on 1 August 1834. On this occasion, each country organizes specific activities such as festivals, carnivals, conferences, which resonate with the International Day.

  • Grenada: exhibition and other commemorative activities organized by the National Commission for UNESCO and the National Museum of Granada in the framework of the UNESCO Associated Schools Network, St. Georges, 23August, 2011
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis: launch of the activities of the national committee for the Slave Route Project (More)
  • Trinidad and Tobago: Symposium on the theme, "The contribution of people of African descent in the development of Caribbean society", 23 –24 August 2011.



The National Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition has been commemorated in the United Kingdom since 2007. On this occasion, various activities are organized throughout the country, particularly in cities whose history is closely related to the triangular trade, such as Bristol, Liverpool and London. National and private museums play a significant role in educating the public and raising awareness on this issue:


North America


  • Inauguration of an African-Canadian itinerary of memory in the framework of the UNESCO Slave Route Project. This initiative is a side-event of a workshop on "Slavery, Memory and Identity", organized by the Harriet Tubman Institute at the University of York, Toronto 21-27 August 2011 (More)
  • "A History to Discover" is the theme chosen by the Black Coalition of Quebec for this year’s commemoration, from 16 to 23 August, 2011 in Montreal. Activities include a visit to the slave cemetery "Nigger Rock" in Saint-Armand, reception and discussion at the Hôtel de Ville of Montreal, Reggae Festival in tribute to victims of the slave trade and photo exhibition on slavery. (More)

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