BY MCPHILIPS NWACHUKWU
IT was like the Chairman, Organising Committee, International Colloquium on Slavery, Slave Trade and its Consequences, Professor Abi Derefaka of the University of Port Harcourt read the mind of the inquisitive looking journalists that he resorted to making the rhetorical statement: â€œ ManyÂ of us may want to know why we are holding a colloquium on slavery at this time.â€
Flanked by the Director General of the Centre for Black African Art and Civilisation, Professor Tunde Babawale, Professor Wole Ogundele, Director, Center for Black Culture and International Understanding, Oshogbo, Professor Dele Lawal of the Department of History, University of Lagos,Professor Oseni Kolawole among others, Professor Derefaka and his committee members were in Lagos to addressÂ a world Press conference heralding the planned colloquium slated to hold at Iloko, Ijesha, Osun State from August 22 to 26, 2010.
One line statement
Derefakaâ€™s discomfort expressed in thatÂ one line statement was driving fromÂ the fact that the narrative of slavery and slave trade has remained one hunting tale, which its rehearsal carries in its wakeÂ an endless nightmare.
Â But like oneâ€™s shadow;Â theÂ consequences of slavery and slave trade has continued to follow humanity ceaselesslyÂ across the world. In America, the new world, where that drama of the absurd was acted with precision; its ugly tentacles of race relation, politics and problem of integration continue to fester in the air leaving its ugly trails in the whole of South American countries and other African Diaspora countries.
BackÂ to the home continent, the reason forÂ the economic and scientific backwardness of what used to be the cradle of humanityÂ can easily be explained in the dispossession , she suffers, when a reasonable number of her vibrant productive population was forcefully taken away into slavery to constitute the dynamic force that built the new world of America and Europe.
It is the â€œ indelibility, the trauma of the experienceâ€, which according to Derefaka quoting what a prominent Nigerian scholar referred to as â€œ collective amnesiaâ€ that gives rise to the convocation of the present international conference.
The colloquium, which coincides with the annual UNESCO International Day for the abolition of Slavery according to Derefaka, would be used as an occasion to remember African heroes, who paid the supreme sacrifice as a result of slavery, as well as an occasion to identifying with the world body, UNSECO in honouring the abolition of slavery.
â€œThis colloquium is, therefore another way of remembering our heroes and celebrating those emancipationÂ efforts on the long walk to freedom. It Is also to remember the UNSECO International Day for the abolition of Slavery and Slave Trade which is marked annually on the 23rd of August.â€ He said.
The International Colloquium being hosted by the Osun State Government through the Center forÂ Black Culture and International Understanding, (CBCIU), Oshogbo with the support of the Federal Ministry ofÂ Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Center for Black African Arts and Civilisation, CBAAC, The National Commission for Museum and Monument, NCMM and Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC will explore different aspects of slavery and slave trade under the followingÂ sub-headings: Historiograpghy of Slavery and Slave Trade, Regional Perspective on Slavery and Slave Trade, Women, Slavery and Slave Trade, Globalisation and new forms of Enslavement, Enslavement and Global African Diaspora, Slave Market, Routes, Monuments, Relics and Tourism and Reconciliation, Reparation and Rehabilitation.
Emphasising on the desirability of the colloquium, erudite Director of CBAAC, Professor Babawale argued that â€œ Slavery has impacted on every part of our history. It defines our history and the identity of African people both at home and in Diaspora; and that is why we want to subject the phenomenon to a rigourous study.
Continuing, Babawale, whose own parastatal, CBAAC , has in the last four years hosted international conferences, where the subject of slavery has taken center stage discourse,Â further argued that the present international meetingÂ Â will â€œhelp us to update our knowledge on the slave trade about Atlantic Slave trade, trans-Saharan tradeâ€¦through this meeting, we are going to break new grounds not just in the study of slave trade, but in the knowledge, we have acquired about Africa as a continent.â€