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Slavery Remembrance Day: unless we remember, it will not end

20 August 2015 by Richard

Dorothy Kuya with Paul Robeson, Jr. 2007

Dorothy Kuya with Paul Robeson, Jr. 2007

This year the International Slavery Museum will be leading on the city’s 16th Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations.

This has become a key date not only in the calendar of the International Slavery Museum, but nationally, with people coming from around the UK to engage with a series of events – both contemplative and commemorative.

On Friday 21 August 2016 the Dr Martin Luther King Jr building will host the Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture, named in honour of a friend of the Museum, supporter of Slavery Remembrance Day and indefatigable campaigner against injustice and racism. Dorothy sadly passed away in 2013 and it was a great honour for the Museum when Dorothy’s family members gave their blessing to name our annual lecture after their much loved Aunty Dorothy.

As Chief Angus Chukuemeka, Dorothy’s close friend, who leads on our annual libation, noted in his touching eulogy to Dorothy:

She was concerned that many people of African descent in the City and the country as a whole do not know about all aspects of their origin. They find that it is easy to obtain positive and constructive information about their European origin, but very difficult to find the truth about their African origin. This is partly because the recording of African history has been in the hands of people who for various reasons present a negative image of what Africa has been and is. There is an African proverb which says: “Until the lions have their own historian, tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter”.

The keynote speaker at our annual event thus has to be someone who can challenge often accepted narratives of history, in a constructive, informative and inspiring way.  No easy ask but I feel this year’s speaker – the broadcaster, author and film-maker David Olusoga is more than up to the task.  Many of you will be familiar with his award-winning documentary work such as the BBC 2 Series – The World’s War : Forgotten Soldiers of Empire, and Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners and his poignant books such as  the The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism with Casper Erichsen.

I am looking forward to hearing David (who is blogging tomorrow, about what he will cover in the Lecture) and attending many of the free events we have over the weekend.  But probably the most important event in the calendar is the libation ceremony.  It reminds me and all those present why we are stood on the Liverpool Waterfront, to remember the lives and deaths of the millions of enslaved Africans taken from their families, friends and homelands. I hope you can join us.”

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