Launching of the Exhibition 'Lest We Forget' in Nairobi
The 'Lest We Forget: The Triumph over Slavery” Exhibition was launched at Alliance Française, Nairobi – Kenya on 8th May, 2013 as a collaboration between UNESCO and Alliance Française. It is being hosted by Alliance Française as part of the celebration to mark France’s National Day of the “Memory of the Slave trade, slavery and their abolition on 10th May. The Exhibition will remain on display at Alliance Française until 31st May 2013
The Launch began with the screening of the documentary “Slave routes: A Global Vision”, which provides an overview of the massive deportation of African populations and their contributions to different parts of the world including the Americas, Europe, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East and Asia.
In their speeches during the Launch, the Director of UNESCO, Mr Mohamed Djelid; the Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of France, Ms Stephanie Seydoux; the Representative of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Heritage, Mr Ongayo; and the Director, Alliance Francaise, Mr Herve Branyere hailed the role the exhibition is playing in highlighting the dehumanizing experiences of the past in order to “call for action” in responding to challenges and consequences of enslavement today.
A special presentation, “From old to new forms of slavery: Lest we forget”, was made by Awareness against human trafficking (HAART) and Cardinal Charles Lavigerie’s Anti-Slavery Campaign Programme. The subsequent interventions raised tremendous interest in highlighting the new forms of slavery such as human trafficking and emphasized the role of the Exhibition in promoting the fight against new forms of enslavement.
The Exhibition is comprised of 32 pieces which explain slave trade and chronicle experiences of slaves. It was developed within the context UNESCO’s “Slave Route Project” in collaboration with the New York Public Library and The Schomburg Foundation for the Investigation of Black Culture.
The Government of Kenya has already expressed interest in showing the Exhibition in Mombasa. This is very important and UNESCO is very supportive as Fort Jesus is Mombasa’s coastline town that served as a transit point for slave trade and commodities. The town also houses Fort Jesus, a monumental piece of architecture that was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese and was used to keep and torture slaves before being traded.
In order to fulfill the educational role of the Exhibition, UNESCO and Alliance Francaise have organized a programme inviting schools to visit and tour the Exhibition. The students will have an opportunity to watch the documentary, tour the exhibition and answer a questionnaire on the content of the Exhibition.
Mulekeni Ngulube, Programme Specialist, Culture at md.ngulube(at)unesco.org
Harsita Waters, Arts and Cultural Affairs Coordinator, Alliance Française de Nairobi, cultural(at)alliancefrnairobi.org
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