The UN easily unveils a memorial monument to victims of European slave trade while participating in the current plunder & occupation in Haiti | South Africa’s Odious Monument to eugenicist/imperialist Cecil John Rhodes

United Nations Unveils Stunning Memorial in New York To The Millions Who Were Killed and Sacrificed in Slave Trade To Create America’s Riches

South Africa’s Odious Monument to Cecil John Rhodes


Ezili Dantò’s Note: On UN memorial to victims of the European slave trade

I wish I knew how to word the irony of the UN espousing justice about old wrongs but doing new wrongs right now in Haiti. Here’s what’s nice that I can say about this: Rodney Leon.

“The memorial was designed by Rodney Leon, an American architect of Haitian descent who was chosen two years ago after an international competition that attracted 310 entries from 83 countries. Leon was also the designer of the African Burial Ground National Monument in lower Manhattan, which was built on a spot where 15,000 people of African descent were buried over a period of around 100 years from the 1690s until 1794”. –United Nations Unveils Stunning Memorial in New York To The Millions Who Were Killed and Sacrificed in Slave Trade To Create America’s Riches

United Nations Unveils Stunning Memorial in New York To The Millions Who Were Killed and Sacrificed in Slave Trade To Create America’s Riches – Atlanta Blackstar

United Nations Unveils Stunning Memorial in New York To…

Visitors to the United Nations headquarters in New York will get a powerful reminder of the brutality of the transatlantic slave trade and its enormous impact on wo…

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United Nations Unveils Stunning Memorial in New York To The Millions Who Were Killed and Sacrificed in Slave Trade To Create America’s Riches

March 26, 2015 | Posted by Nick Chiles

Visitors to the United Nations headquarters in New York will get a powerful reminder of the brutality of the transatlantic slave trade and its enormous impact on world history through a visually stunning new memorial that was unveiled yesterday in a solemn ceremony.

There were speeches intended to touch the emotionality of a system that operated for hundreds of years, killing an estimated 15 million African men, women and children and sending millions more into the jaws of a vicious system of plantation slavery in the Americas.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called slavery a stain on human history.

U.N. General Assembly President Sam Kutesa said slavery remained one of the darkest and most abhorrent chapters in world history.

It was only fitting that the ceremony take place at a site surrounded by the looming skyscrapers of New York. Slavery was the economic engine upon which American capitalism was built, providing the seed money for United States businesses to create the most vibrant economic system in the world. The enslaved Black person (whose gender is purposely vague to represent men, women and children) lying inside the dramatically shaped marble memorial, which is called The Ark of Return, is a symbol of the millions whose deaths led to the building of those skyscrapers, the visual emblems of American capitalism’s enormous financial windfall for the white beneficiaries of slavery and their descendants.

During his speech unveiling the memorial, Ban Ki-moon spoke directly to Black people in the Americas and the Caribbean who are descended from the enslaved Black people who were sacrificed.

I hope descendants of the transatlantic slave trade will feel empowered as they remember those who overcame this brutal system and passed their rich cultural heritage from Africa on to their children, Ban said.

In his remarks, he singled out Black women in particular, noting that a third of those Black people who were sold as slaves from Africa were female.

In addition to enduring the harsh conditions of forced labor as slaves, they experienced extreme forms of discrimination and exploitation as a result of their gender, he said.

The U.N. has declared 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent. Kutesa said yesterday that The Ark of Return would be one of the most important contributions of the entire decade.

The majority of the victims of this brutal, primitive trade in human beings remain unnamed and unknown. Nevertheless, their dignity and courage was boundless and worthy of this honor and tribute, Kutesa said. While this may be a solemn occasion, it is also an opportunity to celebrate the legacy of those unknown and unnamed enslaved Africans and honor their proud contribution to our societies, our institutions and our world.

The memorial project was conceived more than five years ago by a group of African and Caribbean nations, led by Jamaica. Courtenay Rattray, the Permanent Representative of Jamaica, who also served as chair of the Permanent Memorial Committee, noted yesterday that several nations, along with UNESCO, helped raise more than $1.7 million to pay for it.

The 15-member Caribbean Community at the U.N. is in the midst of pursuing reparations claims against European nations that engaged in the slave trade. While Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller didn’t mention the reparations issue in her remarks yesterday, she did speak of slavery’s enduring legacy, noting that even after Britain passed a law on March 25, 1807, abolishing the slave trade, the institution persisted.

For us freedom came after a long journey, she said. Freedom was not gifted to us but rather earned by the sweat, blood, and tears of millions of our forebears on whose back the economic foundations of the New World was built.

Rodney Leon

The memorial was designed by Rodney Leon, an American architect of Haitian descent who was chosen two years ago after an international competition that attracted 310 entries from 83 countries. Leon was also the designer of the African Burial Ground National Monument in lower Manhattan, which was built on a spot where 15,000 people of African descent were buried over a period of around 100 years from the 1690s until 1794.

It makes me feel extremely proud that I can play a role and a part in the commemoration of such an important and historic day, Leon said during an interview yesterday. I feel really proud that we have a physical marker and a place of remembrance for this annual celebration to take place moving forward.

As the son of Haitian immigrants, Leon said his parents filled him with the history of Haitian liberation and the country’s struggle to be the first independent African state in the western hemisphere.

My parents were always able to communicate to us as a family in terms of our history and our culture, he said. And I think that that plays a role in my being extremely proud of our Haitian and our African heritage. And as a result, when we have these legacies and these opportunities I think I tend to gravitate towards them.

In creating the triangle-shaped marble structure, Leon said his team drew inspiration from the maps of the triangular slave trade that are etched in the structure. They were also inspired by the ships that ferried Africans to Europe and the Americas, and the experiences people underwent through what is called the door of no return a door at a castle on Gorée Island in Senegal and Cape Coast in Ghana, where many slaves were kept before they were shipped to the Americas.

We felt it was very important for us to counteract that experience and pay homage to their legacy, Leon said.

In a profile of the work on the U.N. website, Leon talked about the process of creating it. He said his team consisted of professionals from around the worldother architects as well as structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers, sculptors, steel workers, lighting designers and people with expertise in building water features. They came from the Caribbean, Africa, as well as Europe.

We were also interested in the idea of the slave ships and these vessels that carried people through tragic conditions to the new world, he said. So we felt it would be a good counterpoint to establish a spiritual space of return, an Ark of Return, a vessel where we can begin to create a counter-narrative and undo some of that experience.

Leon said he designed the monument so that it could be touched by members of the public but also by dignitaries at the UN, reminding them, as they deal with global issues on a daily basis, of mistakes made in the past.

The memorial is etched with drawings of actual slave ships, depicting cross-sections of vessels and showing their systematic organization in order to pack in as much human cargo as possible.

We felt that that experience was very much something that needed to be visually described, he said, referring to the human forms, stacked horizontally in three levels, barely able to sit-up. I think they lost at least 15 percent or more of the cargo on a typical slave journey.

Of the figure laying prone inside the sculpture, he said it is a deliberately androgynous human sculpture, called the trinity figure, representing the human spirit and the spirit of the men, women and children of African descent whose deaths resulted from the slave trade.

A lot of people had to suffer in very confined quarters, he said. And the reason why it kind of seems like it’s androgynous, it’s sort of meant to represent those three elements men, women and children. You’re sort of not really supposed to be able to tell.

He said the figure’s leg, hand and face are made from black Zimbabwean granite.

It has an outreached hand that’s meant to kind of reach out to people that are coming in, he said. It features a kind of tear that comes out of the face. That tear is supposed to wash down the side of the face and sets up the third element in the project.

That third element is a triangular waterfall, created by the tears that flow from the face of the trinity statue into two triangular reflecting pools. Leon said this element, located outside of the memorial, is intended to look ahead to the future.

It’s really about dealing with our current conditions of contemporary slavery and how that actually is something we need to be fighting today, he said. It’s about acknowledging that condition and thinking about future generations and educating future generations so this tragedy doesn’t happen again in the future. So that’s why it’s pointing the way forward for us after you’ve passed through.

Leon said the idea that children will be interacting and learning from his work actually brings me ongoing joy.

South Africa’s Odious Monument to Cecil John Rhodes


South Africa’s Odious Monument to Cecil John Rhodes

A statue of the British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town. Credit Schalk Van Zuydam/Associated Press

South Africa’s Odious Monument to Cecil John Rhodes

University of Cape Town students are right to demand the removal of a statue honoring colonialism’s great exemplar.

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JOHANNESBURG For two decades, many South Africans assumed that our university campuses had become politically apathetic. But this may be the year that South Africa’s students wake up from a deep sleep, refreshed and determined to demand transformation of their educational institutions.

Their activism has been stirred, unexpectedly, by a controversy over 19th-century history. Though the British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes came to Africa to pillage, he has been immortalized in countless statues, highways, buildings and, for a time, even a posh Cape Town nightclub.

Rhodes’s staying power in post-apartheid South Africa was impressive for a man who plundered much of the region while amassing his fortune, worked tenaciously as a politician to disenfranchise black people, and dreamed of conquering Africa from the Cape to Cairo. Now, it seems, the historical amnesia has come to an end.

Students at the University of Cape Town are demanding the destruction or removal of a huge statue of Rhodes that stares down on the city from the mountainside campus, eulogizing the arch-imperialist with the words of another great admirer of empire, Rudyard Kipling: Living he was the land, and dead, His soul shall be her soul!

Twenty years after apartheid ended, South African universities remain a testament to the country’s colonial heritage in terms of what they teach, who does the teaching, and the morally odious symbols that haunt our campuses or lurk in their very names. In recent weeks, there have also been demands to change the name of Rhodes University, my own alma mater.

Both of these universities have hastily built up reputations as exemplars of diversity and inclusiveness. They are not.

At Rhodes, 83 percent of senior management staff remain white and 77 percent of professionally qualified staff, a category that includes academic teaching staff, are white. By 2013, only three percent of academic staff at U.C.T. were black, and there are only two full professors who are black in the faculty of Humanities.

It is little wonder many U.C.T. students are demanding the destruction or removal of a prominent statue of colonialism’s great exemplar, Cecil John Rhodes. And in my hometown of Grahamstown, a city born of colonial misadventure, we shouldn’t be surprised that many students are demanding the name of Rhodes University be changed.

Critics may ask of what use it is to dismantle symbols of colonialism on campuses if removing them won’t usher in transformed and more inclusive educational spaces?

But they miss the point. The core issue is a prevalent feeling, and experience, of exclusion among many black students in universities across the country, even where they are a numerical majority.

These (mostly white) critics fail to grasp the aesthetic and moral assault on one’s entire being that occurs when a black person walks across a campus covered with statues and monuments that celebrate colonial conquerors as heroes. It is disingenuous to pretend these statues originally existed, or could be re-imagined anew, as monuments that poke fun at the evil characters who looted the region while trampling on the fundamental rights of indigenous people. Rhodes bequeathed land and money to both universities, and erecting statues and naming things in his honor were expressions of gratitude. Why else include an inscription that reads, To the spirit and life work of Cecil John Rhodes who loved and served South Africa?

It is dishonest to deny the inherently celebratory nature of the Rhodes statue, and historical statues in general. While removing one won’t change institutional cultures overnight or transform the demographics of staff it would be an important symbolic start.

I defend the students demands to remove the statue and change Rhodes University’s name despite being a Rhodes alumnus and a Rhodes Scholar.

Shedding some of these symbols would indicate institutional recognition that these protests are legitimate, and that some symbols are morally repulsive to a majority of South Africans. After they are removed, we can move on with the harder work of transforming educational institutions in a more fundamental way.

There are still hundreds of thousands of South African students who have been historically excluded from the higher education system and who still don’t have access to it. According to Inyathelo, a nonprofit education group, only 10 percent of black South Africans have access to university and only 5 percent complete their degrees, and most who do so struggle to complete these within the regulation time. And many campuses simply aren’t inclusive spaces where students other than the children of white alumni feel at ease.

Defenders of keeping the Rhodes statue seem particularly upset by the recent use of human waste to deface it. You can also have a look at how trading works in South Africa and South African binary options brokers from this website. They deem it objectionably militant, or at the very least unhygienic, preferring protest methods that are clean and less disruptive.

They should be thankful that these protests aren’t actually militant. In fact, the current drama is a far cry from genuine student militancy. Militancy is what South Africa experienced in 1976, when high school students rose up in Soweto and paid with their lives. Today’s protesters could become genuinely militant, but only if their demands are misread and ignored.

And thats a very real risk because too many South Africans prefer to fall back on myth making tropes about our rainbow nation. Mythmaking soothes, but it leaves the country open to future ruptures, which could result, if the core issues are never adequately addressed, in uncontrollable explosions of discontent. And thats far more dangerous for a young democracy than reducing Rhodes to rubble.

Institutions that benefited from Rhodes unjustly acquired wealth can start to make amends by using that wealth to expand access, increase diversity and create more educational opportunities on their own campuses. A good start would be the crushing of an odious monument to colonial evil.

Eusebius McKaiser is the author of A Bantu in My Bathroom and Could I Vote DA? A Voters Dilemma.

Forwarded by Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network

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