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UK officialises slavery day

afrol News, 14 December - The British government has finally adopted 23 August [UNESCO's day for the International Remembrance of Slave Trade and Abolition] as a day of national commemorations in the years to come.

UNESCO chose the nights of 22 and 23 August 1791 when the beginning of an uprising in Santo Domingo (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) later played a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. The dates are a reminder that enslaved Africans paved way for their liberation.

The history and impact of slave trade will become a compulsory element of British schools from September next year.

The move signals the government's renewed commitment to tackling the legacy of slavery, challenges facing modern Africa as well as addressing modern slavery. Britain had actively took part in slave trade.

In March, Britain signed the Council of Europe Convention on Action againsts Trafficking in Humanbeings. This will allow the country to prosecute traffickers and give victims greater support.

Apart from doubling its aid to Africa by 2010, Britain's Education for Every Child programme aims to provide education for 15 milllion children over the next ten years.

Communities Minister, Pamjit Dhanda, expressed delight to confirm the adoption of 23 August as the future date of abolition commemorations.

Dhanda thanked the 2007 Bicentenary Advisory Group, an independent group of key stakeholders who advised the government on bicentenary activities.

"This bicentenary year has seen a remarkable coming together of communities, voluntary groups, and government at all levels to mark abolition. People across the country have been reminded of the suffering of millions who were enslaved; celebrated the courage of those who struggled for emancipation; and recommitted this country to the struggle against the unacceptable forms of slavery which sadly still persist."

Dhanda also said there were celebrations on enormous contributions Black African and Black Caribbean communities had made in Britain. The said however said there is need to deal with the target actions such as the legacy of inequality in relation to education, employment and race still faced by some blacm and caribbean communities.

"Understanding the slave trade and its legacy is vital to broadening our history and recognition of the challenges we still face as a society today," Culture Minister, Margaret Hodge, said at the Museum in Docklands.

"There have been moving events in museums, galleries, schools, libraries and town halls up and down the country this year. We now have a permanent cultural legacy in our museums such as in the inspiring Museum here in the Docklands and the International Slavery Museum Liverpool."

"With the 23 August set to be a national day of commemoration in years to come, I hope that cultural sector across the country will continue to mark the day and inspire and move people just as they did this past year with a range of commemorative events - from displays, lectures, to religious services and plays."

In the coming years groups looking to mark the slavery day will be able to apply support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Big Lottery Fund and Arts Council of England.

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