"Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage"
Laura Facey - Their Spirits Gone Before Them (2006)
The Slave Route Project is a UNESCO initiative that was officially launched in 1994 in Ouidah, Benin. It is rooted in the mandate of the Organization, which believes that ignorance or concealment of major historical events constitutes an obstacle to mutual understanding, reconciliation and cooperation amongst people. The project breaks the silence surrounding the slave trade that has affected all continents and caused great upheavals that continues to shape our societies today. In studying the causes, the modalities and the consequences of slavery and the slave trade, the project seeks to enhance the understanding of diverse histories and heritages stemming from this global tragedy. The Fragments of Memory project was launched as part of the actions for the commemorations of the 25th anniversary of the Slave Route Project in coordination with the editing of the UNESCO General History of Africa.
The Slave Route Project, flagship project of UNESCO, has become a reference and a major actor on an international scale. It has succeeded in inscribing the question of the slave trade and slavery on the international agenda and has played a decisive role in their recognition as crimes against humanity. By emphasizing the ethical requirement and promoting a scientific unbiased approach, the project was able to reconcile historical research with the duty to remember. It has developed a holistic vision of the question by simultaneously addressing its different dimensions: historical, memorial, creative, educational and heritage.
The General History of Africa (GHA) is a pioneering corpus, unparalleled in its ambition to cover the history of the entire African continent, from since the first appearance of human beings to the contemporary challenges faced by Africans and their Diasporas in the world. It is a history that no longer leaves the pre-colonial period in the shadows and that deeply integrates the destiny of Africa into that of humanity by highlighting its relations with the other continents and the contribution of African cultures to the general progress of humanity. The Fragments of Memory Project is linked to the research and debates organized by Professor Paul Lovejoy for the elaboration of the volume X of the collection
Generations of artists have, ever since the abolition of slavery, seized, revisited, rehabilitated, and transmitted these legacies to draw new horizons for intercultural relations. The International Coalition of Artists for the General History of Africa was created was one of the art-actions from the Slave Route Project in order to raise awareness among young Africans and the general public regarding the importance of a better understanding of the African continent’s history and cultures. A number of events have already taken places in the world around different topics such as hip hop or the cinema and their artistic creations connected with the continent.