By Raji Rasak
The Lagos State Government on Tuesday renewed its call for abolition of modern day slavery manifesting in human trafficking and exploitation.
The state Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Uzamat Akinbule-Yusuf, made the call during the Fitila Procession commemorating the 2021 Remembrance Day of Slave Trade and its Abolition in Badagry.
According to her, the event calls for a reflection on the consequences of slavery on Nigeria and the black race as a whole.
Akinbule-Yusuf said Lagos State Government joined the celebration as a way of raising public awareness about slave trade and slavery in collective memories and national narratives as well as resolution of injustices inherited from a biased record of history of the slave trade.
“This also includes the recognition of the significant input made by people of African descent.
“This Day is designed to create a global platform for the gradual re-integration of the diaspora and to celebrate the history of the African Diaspora, especially those that contributed to the emancipation of blacks from slavery.
“It is also to promote the tangible and intangible heritage of Lagos State and Badagry as melting points,” said Akinbile-Yussuf.
She said that the Fitila Procession observed from the Vlekete Market towards Marina in Badagry further underscored the importance of the day and demonstrated a great honour and respect for the departed slaves.
She added that a major benefit of the commemoration was that Africans/Americans in the diaspora are encouraged to retrace their steps back to their land of origin and re-unite with long-lost relatives through the event.
Mr Ovi Kuponu, Guest Speaker and Publisher of De Voice Newspaper, maintained that Badagry remained a point of reference on slavery and its abolition.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Kuponu’s speech was entitled: “Slave Trade and its Abolition and How Public Opinion Can Change the Law”.
“Evidences abound in my community, Badagry, to show that from 1600 when the first Portuguese slave merchant, George Freemingo (Huntokonu), arrived Badagry through the year of the Saint-Dominigue revolution in 1808 when the slave trade was abolished, slave trade was real.
“Several relics and monuments dot the landscape of West African coastal towns like Quidah, Porto Novo, Freetown, Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, Badagry, Lagos and so on.
“The slave trade as practiced 200 years ago may be history, but the moral lesson is ever present.
“Let us not close our eyes to crimes and evils being perpetuated in the society, as allowing such crimes and evil to fester will only shame us all,” Kuponu said.
He said that the slave trade was eventually abolished because several people at the time examined their own conscience and took personal responsibility for what was happening around them.
Kuponu said that Nigerians must approach today’s abuses in the same spirit by thinking of what could be done to hasten the end to modern slavery by Africans against fellow Africans; slavery by Nigerians against fellow Nigerians.
“We must all stand up and speak up against repressive, oppressive and inhuman tendencies that are tantamount to modern slavery,” he said.
NAN reports that the event had in attendance officials from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture led by the Director of Research and Development, Mrs Yetunde Simpson and the Director of Tourism Promotion, Mrs Ada Oni.
Others were the retired Permanent Secretary of Lagos State of the ministry, Mr Ashamu Fadipe, the Founder of Centre for Heritage Preservation, Chief Hunkanlin Afolabi and the Head of Badagry Musuem, Mr Peter Mesewaku. (NAN)