Make It A Day To Remember

International Day For The Remembrance Of The Slave Trade And Its Abolition 2016

Tokunbo Ifaturoti

August 23 is the day set aside by the United Nations for us to focus on the lasting effects of the slave trade, the struggles that led to its abolition and what these mean to us as we try to improve conditions for all around the globe. Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, puts it all into perspective when she states “All of humanity is part of this story, in its transgressions and good deeds.”

The establishment of the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition comes out of UNESCO’s The Slave Route Project. That initiative is also responsible for the setting up of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024).

Human nature is laid bare for open examination as we dissect the horrendous trade and the unstoppable movement to fight against it and bring about its downfall. That fight was not swift, but a centuries-long struggle running from the abolition of slavery in a handful of American states in the late eighteenth century to the 2003 banning of slavery in Niger.

Within Nigeria, many internally displaced persons (IDPs) have fled their homes out of fear of modern day slavery at the hands of insurgents. Also, Badagry in Nigeria’s Lagos State was a primary town for the export of slaves to the Americas. Whether past or present, slavery and its nuances have left an indelible imprint that tempers how societies and sectors within societies relate to each other.

It is important that the achievements of groups which were (or still are) physically, mentally and emotionally oppressed be highlighted as a way to restore a sense dignity and equality to them. In doing so we will be guaranteeing that they are able to freely continue to make worthwhile contributions to the growth of whichever countries they are in. In the case of Nigeria’s IDPs, it is worthwhile to focus on their strengths and empower them to become independent as a way to maintain their freedom.

Let us not forget the scourge of slavery but also, most importantly, let us collectively decide to focus on the powerful human traits that have led to its abolition. These are the traits that will drive the development of societies that respect and nurture all their citizens regardless their ethnic background, gender, age, or socio-economic status.