Over 70 school children and members of the public joined the United Nations to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The event held in the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Library was aimed at providing awareness to South Africans about remember the horrors of the slave trade and celebrate the rich history of the African continent and its diverse cultures.
For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children, mostly from Africa, were the victims of the tragic trade, one of the darkest chapters in human history.
Commemorated annually by the UN on March 25, the occasion offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system. The International Day also aims at raising awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.
The event in Pretoria, which was held a week before due to March 25 being a public holiday, was marked by poems, music and key messages about how slavery impacted on the African way of life. Invited guests viewed a documentary titled The Middle Passage by renowned Hollywood director Steven Spielberg. Based on the history of the slave trade, the documentary highlights the atrocities committed during the slave trade and how the modern world needs to be more proactive in preventing such horrors from repeating. Musical group Mosaic entertained guests with tunes that were riveting and infused afrobeats with classical sounds that showcased the richness of the African spirit.
Director of the UNIC, Maureen Nkandu said “This is a history we dare not forget, for it still has a bearing on how the African or the black person is perceived and treated today. Slave trade brought on an erosion of our culture, traditions, self-esteem, human dignity and psyche.”
Zolani Mkiva, African Delphic Council gave the keynote address. Mr Mkiva spoke about the power of the mind and how it was destroyed during the slave trade. “There are still remnants of slavery in our society. It is in our mind, and it is time we decolonise our minds,” he said. He reiterated the power of education in order to free the African heart and mind from the shackles that slavery instilled. “First world countries were built by the hands of Africans. If we use the power that education provides, Africans on the continent and in the diaspora will be on the right course to being free.” he said.