March 25th is the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It serves as a reminder that greater effort must be made to ensure that the history of the transatlantic slave trade is not forgotten and that it is used as a tool to combat discrimination and inequality. Julie Walker caught up with the Jamaican Ambassador to the UN Raymond Wolfe at a special event at United Nations headquarters in New York to discuss his plans for a permanent memorial at the UN.
“The story of the end of the slave trade deserves to be told here at the United Nations. Indeed, the defense of human rights is at the heart of this Organization’s global mission. Our Charter proclaims equal rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude”.
Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
The Transatlantic slave trade persisted for four centuries.
Imagine being torn from your weeping family as a result of ethnic warfare…forced to walk hundreds of miles until you reach the sea on the West African side of the Atlantic Ocean. You are stripped of your name, your identity, of every right a human being deserves. The European ship that you are forced to board, is headed across the Atlantic to Caribbean and South American plantations, a voyage through the awful “middle passage”. A multitude of black people of every description chained together, with scarcely room to turn, traveling for months, seasick, surrounded by the filth of vomit-filled tubs, into which children often fell, some suffocating. The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying renders the whole scene of horror almost inconceivable. Death and disease are all around and only one in six will survive this journey and the brutal, backbreaking labour that follows.