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Posts tagged with 'slavery'

Claim no easy victories: Cape Verde and Cabral

12 November 2015 by Richard

Poetry performance at Cidade Velha

Poetry performance at Cidade Velha


I have just returned from Cape Verde where I attended a committee meeting and colloquium in my role as the UK representative of the UNESCO Slave Route project.

The committee is made up of a global mix of experts from disciplines such as anthropology, archaeology and history along with those of us who represent museums and research institutions.   Interests are wide-ranging and all contribute to a greater understanding of the transatlantic slave trade and indeed other routes of enslavement such as the Indian Ocean.

Several committee members gave presentations on this region at the colloquium, which was held at the Universidade de Cabo Verde on the theme of ‘Scientific Research on Slavery and Challenges of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024)’.  Dr. Vijay Teelock (University of Mauritius) spoke on People of African descent in post–emancipation Mauritius and Dr. Abdulazziz Lodhi (Uppsala University) on the spread of the African diaspora in the coastal areas through the Swahili Culture.

Cape Verde has a fascinating and often troubled history. The Portuguese claimed the islands in the 15th century thus starting several centuries of involvement in the transatlantic slave-trade, the enslavement of Africans and colonial expansion.  This was no passive relationship though and subsequently a notable liberation struggle was born.

Standing outside the National Library is a very large public memorial to one Amilcar Cabral, revolutionary, pan-Africanist thinker and a founder of PAIGC Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde).  In 1926 Portugal had become a right-wing dictatorship, one that that was ruled by António de Oliveira Salazah from 1932-1968 who was determined to hold on to their African colonies (and established the infamous prison camp at Tarrafal on Cape Verde).  As a result Cabral and many of his fellow Guinea-Bissauans and Cape Verdeans fought a long war of liberation, which long after much of the independence movements of the 1960s, eventually led to Cape Verde gaining independence from Portugal in 1975 and Guinea-Bissau in 1974.  Cabral’s famous words ‘Claim no easy victories’ sadly ringing true as he was assassinated shortly before independence. Even so his brother Luis Cabral became the first President of Guinea-Bissau.

A lasting impression were the performances one evening in the town square of Cidade Velha – one of the oldest settlements –  not far from where we were staying and some 10 km west of the capital Praia. There was capoeira, various Cape Verdean music and poetry. One might have expected a lull in the tempo but it was the opposite as several young Cape Verdean poets gave rousing performances, their passion palpable, and indeed heartening.

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Thrown out of his village: now bringing hope to thousands

15 October 2015 by Alison


Kumar Swamy is South India Director for the Dalit Freedom Network and is responsible for oversight of a range of on the ground education, healthcare and economic programmes run for the benefit of Dalit communities in India. These trafficking prevention projects are helping to bring about real change – not only freeing Dalits from modern forms of slavery, but freeing them from the factors that make them so vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in the first place. Here Kumar tells us of the challenges he faced growing up as a young Dalit boy in India, and of the work going on to bring about meaningful and long-lasting change in the country he loves. Read more…

The Lady Lever’s star objects: slavery medallion

7 October 2015 by Lisa

medallion-blogWhile the Lady Lever Art Gallery’s South End galleries are closed for redevelopment, we have chosen a selection of ‘star objects’ from these galleries that you can now see online. Here is our Senior Curator of Art Galleries, Alyson Pollard, to tell us about one of her favourites:  Read more…

Brutal Exposure reviewed by Vava Tampa

13 April 2015 by Lucy Johnson

Image of Congolese man with injured wrist at entrance to exhibitionThere are less than two months left to visit our powerful exhibition Brutal Exposure: the Congo at the International Slavery Museum. Vava Tampa, founder of Save the Congo and chair of the Morel Prize, has given his thoughts on the display:

Brutal Exposure: the Congo at Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum is notable for many things. One of the masterpieces at the heart of this brilliantly staged installation is a still, sanitised portrait of a Congolese man Lomboto.

Simple and sublime, Lomboto’s portrait, which is also the exhibition’s lead image – and one of the few images that became iconic for colonial brutality – fills the high white wall of the exhibition’s entrance space, Read more…

Walking in the footsteps of Glasgow’s past

5 August 2014 by Richard

Crowds outside the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art


Last week I spoke at the ‘Untold Stories, Buried Histories’ panel event in Glasgow, part of  The Empire Café, a week long exploration of Scotland’s relationship with slavery and Atlantic slave trade.  It was planned so that it ran for the duration of the Commonwealth Games.  This is particularly interesting as the legacy and relevancy of the Commonwealth is widely discussed and debated.   It did not take me long to see the legacy of Glasgow’s role in the Atlantic slave trade and slavery as I walked to the venue past the Gallery of Modern Art (once the townhouse of William Cunninghame, a prominent Glaswegian tobacco merchant) and Buchanan and Ingram Streets, both named after merchants who also became rich on the suffering of those working on their plantations. Read more…

Maya Angelou: a soulful life

30 May 2014 by Richard

Maya Angelou at TSGHello,

Sadly, the great poet, author and activist Maya Angelou – born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1928 has passed.  She opened the Transatlantic Slavery gallery (predecessor to the International Slavery Museum) in 1994. Tony Tibbles, who later became the Director of the Merseyside Maritime Museum, worked closely on the development of the groundbreaking gallery and wrote an interesting article on how it came to be.   He notes how they persuaded Maya Angelou to attend the opening and indeed we still have a plaque in our collection which marks this unique event.  Read more…

12 Years a Slave competition

13 May 2014 by Andrew


12 Years a Slave first prize bundle

To celebrate the Blu-ray and DVD release of 12 Years a Slave out May 12, we have three copies of the DVD, book and soundtrack to give away, as well as seven copies of the book and soundtrack. Read more…

My Family, My Pride: Maroon Ancestry

7 May 2014 by Andrew

An image of guest blogger Kirsty Fitzpatrick

Guest blogger Kirsty Fitzpatrick

I don’t remember the first time I heard about my Maroon ancestry, Mother would talk about Jamaica often, stories about farming, school or just sitting on the veranda watching the sun set but the Maroon heritage heartened every story. Bump Grave, the blowing of the abeng, warriors disguised as trees; stories of real people, their customs and traditions passed down to me through my Mother. I do remember feeling the immense pride in belonging to a group of such resilient, resourceful and spirited people. Read more…

How Solomon Northup was kidnapped and sold into slavery

1 May 2014 by Dickie

head and shoulders image of man smiling

Author and historian David Fiske

The film 12 Years a Slave, which tells the story of Solomon Northup, has gripped audiences around the globe. To coincide with the release of the movie on Blu-ray and DVD, author and historian David Fiske blogs about the man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.
Read more…

New Tate piece explores artist’s connection to the enslaved

27 February 2014 by Felicity

Image of Visceral Canker by Donald Rodney

Donald Rodney Visceral Canker 1990 © The estate of Donald Rodney

A new exhibition titled  Keywords: Art, Culture and Society in 1980s Britain opens at Tate Liverpool tomorrow. One of the key pieces in the exhibition tells the story of Britain’s involvement with the slave trade in a striking, visual form. Read more…

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