The African Slavery Memorial Society

AN INTRODUCTION

The vision of the African Slavery Memorial Society is to be a society that supports the preservation of our African Heritage and the memory of our African Ancestors who were enslaved in Antigua and Barbuda. Our mission is to work towards the preservation of the history of our enslaved African Ancestors and their descendants in Antigua and Barbuda from the 17th century through Emancipation to successive generations and to create ongoing consciousness of our African Heritage.

August 1st. 2009 marked the one hundred and seventy fifth (175th) year of the Emancipation of over 29,000 African men women and children on the island of Antigua.

Although their progeny forms the majority of the population of Antigua and Barbuda today our history is largely unknown even to ourselves.

It is a history which was well documented and preserved through the day to day ships manifests, captain’s journals, estate slave lists and slave census taken between 1812 and 1833. These may be found in several official documents such as the Codrington papers at the National Archives.

Unfortunately however, this documentation has remained the purview of those who have access to research libraries and archives at various British and American universities and museums, private collections and academic journals. By and large the history of Africans of Antigua has remained unrecorded by and unknown to those whom it concerns most; the native born Antiguan population who are the direct descendants of the slaves.

The African Slavery Memorial Society of Antigua & Barbuda sought to rectify this anomaly with the launch of the society to coincide with this historic 175th anniversary of Emancipation from slavery in Antigua.

It is intended that the awareness brought about by the society the descendants of the enslaved Africans will make all efforts necessary to lay hold of all documentation, oral history, cultural retentions and tangible implements so that through this we can develop a body of material which will be used to unfold a clearer understanding of our history and that this knowledge will become more readily accessible for today as well as for future generations.

The emancipated Africans to whom we refer are our ancestors a mere six generations past – our great grandparent’s grandparents – we are their great, great, great grandchildren and this history which we seek to preserve, our own family history --is worthy of preservation. We must research, write and own it ourselves. No one else will preserve this for us. It has to be done now or it will be forever lost.

Today, the society is in partnership with the Shackles of Memory in Nantes France and the TOSTEM Project spearheaded by Anneaux de la Memoire. Their vision is to have countries bordering the Atlantic which were in so many ways connected to and impacted by the slave trade and slavery to tell their own stories. “Emancipation Stories” an International Travelling Slavery Exhibition is the result. France, Cameroon, Senegal, Haiti and Antigua Barbuda are merging our stories to help others to understand more.