PRESENTATION OF THE PROJECT "MEMOIRES LIBEREES"

The presentation of the program “Mémoires libérées” took place on the evening of November 26th at the Quai Branly museum. This program aims to valorize the sites and places of memory involved in the slave trade in many African and Caribbean countries. Coordinated by the association “Anneaux de la Mémoire” based in Nantes, this cultural and touristic project propose to create a dynamic around the historical tourism, and is currently meeting a lot of support from personalities and international institutions.

The UNESCO, the Ministry of Culture, the National Committee for the Memory and History of Slavery (CNMHE) the ACTe Memorial, the Embassy of Senegal in France, which represents a lot of representatives on a national and international scale, met Thursday November 26th at the Quai Branly museum for the presentation of the program "Mémoires libérées", created on the initiative of the “Anneaux de la Mémoire” association.

Based in Nantes, the association “Anneaux de la Mémoire” has been working for almost 25 years for the dissemination of historical research and for the raise of public awareness on the theme of slavery and its contemporary legacies. To federate the supports created during all these years, the “Anneaux de la Mémoire” constituted a Committee of Honor in 2014. It includes Lilian Thuram, Stéphane Martin (Quai Branly), Abdou Diouf (former secretary of the OIF), Myriam Cottias (CNMHE), Regis Debray (philosopher), Erik Orsenna (writer) Jacques Martial (Memorial ACTe), and distinguished historians and artists. This committee brings together personalities in France and abroad, which are supporting the actions of the “Anneaux de la Mémoire”.

As an introduction to the soiree, Doudou Diene, initiator of the UNESCO program “La Route de l’Esclave”, recalled the pioneering role of the association in the 1990s which includes the realization of the exhibition “Anneaux de la Mémoire”. This exhibition brought together more than 400,000 visitors at the Château des Ducs de Bretagne.

Since the 1990s, a lot of progress has been made around this painful part of human history, which was hidden for a long time. The 2001 Taubira law, or more recently the inauguration of the Memorial ACTe in Guadeloupe, a Caribbean center of expressions and memory about slavery, brought back this important fragment of history. Jacques Martial, its president, recalled during the soiree at the Quai Branly the traumatism that is still very present around slavery. In accordance with the values ​​held by the “Anneaux de la Mémoire” and by the Memorial ACTe, he highlighted the importance of establishing okaces and actions that promote the expression of different memories, inherited from the shared history between three continents.

Since 2014, the association coordinates an international cultural tourism project, whose name is TOSTEM (“Tourisme autour des Sites de la Traite, des Esclavages et de leurs Mémoires)”, which means “tourism around the sites of traffic, slavery and their memories”. Its action takes place over five territories: France, Cameroon, Senegal, Haiti and Antigua & Barbuda. The TOSTEM program, also called “Mémoires libérées” (freed memories) aims to preserve and promote the historic sites related to slavery to strengthen the economy of cultural tourism and participate in local development. Supported by the Program ACPCultures+, this original project allows to blend:

- Valorization of cultural and material heritages

- Local development and training of stakeholders in partner countries

- Dialoguing about the memories and growing the awareness of different audiences from these three continents.

This program will result in 2016 by the establishment of tourist itineraries in partner countries but also by the creation of an international and traveling exhibition that will be inaugurated in May 2016 in Nantes. This exhibition will be co-built by historians and artists from five partner countries and will be in Nantes for 2 months before beginning its travel around the three continents. Both intercultural and innovative, this project wants to combine historical content and contemporary artists works, and will be complemented by an educational section. As mentioned by Mr. Ognimba, Assistant Secretary General of the ACP (Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific) Secretariat, the ownership and understanding of heritage by local populations, including the youth, are necessary so that these populations are looking towards the future rather than the to the past.

The meeting held at the Quai Branly was therefore an opportunity to present the progress of the actions in front of the personalities and partners who closely follow the “Anneaux de la Mémoire”. In accordance with the values ​​of the association, they are convinced that the historical research, memories dialogues and public awareness about the Atlantic slave trade and its contemporary legacies, must continue to be conducted today.

December 1, 2015
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