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International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Authored by British Online Archives
Published on 23rd August, 2022 2 min read

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

A poster for the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Today (23/08/2022) is International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

"It is time to abolish human exploitation once and for all, and to recognize the equal and unconditional dignity of each and every individual. Today, let us remember the victims and freedom fighters of the past so that they may inspire future generations to build just societies."   

Audrey Azoulay (Director-General of UNESCO)

The 23rd of August sees the annual ‘International Day of Remembrance for the Slave Trade and its Abolition’ worldwide. This day of commemoration was officially designated by UNESCO in 1998 as it marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Haitian Revolution in 1791.

Beginning as a slave uprising, the revolution in Haiti (known then as the West Indian French colony Saint-Domingue) was the only successful slave rebellion that resulted in the creation of a self-governed state, one that was free from slavery and led by the former captives and victims of the transatlantic slave trade. The success of the revolution effectively defied long-held European beliefs in black inferiority and was a definitive moment in the journey towards abolition. 

The day sees an opportunity to collectively reflect on the devastation of the Slave Trade, an industry that saw approximately 15 million people forcibly removed from Africa and sent largely to the Americas as well as European colonies under barbaric and brutal conditions. 

In Haiti alone, 50% of slaves arriving from Africa died within a year due to the harsh treatment of slave owners and widespread diseases such as malaria and yellow fever. The high mortality rate meant plantation owners increasingly exploited their slaves, providing them with the barest of provisions and food to ensure that the maximum labour could be extracted from them at the cheapest expense. Countless others experienced conditions like these for over four centuries during the Slave Trade. 

Today is a time for reflection on the horrific experiences of the millions of people who were violently taken from their homes. We must use this opportunity to educate ourselves and others on the consequences of the Slave Industry, which are still felt today. In a world where people continue to be exploited for commercial and personal gain, it is right to remember the actions of those who fought to end an inhumane industry.

Authored by British Online Archives

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