In Senegal, Africa remembers slave trade

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Flowers were thrown into the Atlantic ocean in memory of victims of the slave trade, commemorated for the first time on the African continent during a ceremony in Senegal's capital Dakar Wednesday.

The "Black Atlantic" ceremony took place on the ferry which crosses from Dakar to Goree Island, a symbol of the slave trade and departure point for thousands of slaves destined for the United States.

After a minute of silence and the reading of poems in tribute of the victims of the slave trade, those aboard the ferry threw flowers into the ocean.

Goree Island and its famous "Slave House" has been on the United Nations World Heritage List since 1978, and is a favourite amongst tourists visiting the west African country.

"For the first time, Senegal and Africa are commemorating the memory of the slave trade," said Karfa Diallo, president of the French-based Memorial Foundation of the Slave Trade which organised the ceremony.

"Black Atlantic marks an important moment in the history of humanity and Africa's reconciliation with herself," he added.

Amady Bocoum of the Senegalese culture ministry said: "We think of Goree which was a terminus, but also of all that happened on all the African trails" where slaves where kidnapped.

April 27 was chosen as the date for the commemoration as it corresponds with that of the abolition of the slave trade in French colonies in 1848.

In March 2010, Senegal adopted a law criminalising the slave trade, making it the first African country to do so.

© 2011 AFP

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