Bermuda To Commemorate Victims Of Slavery

March 11, 2013

The African Heritage Diaspora Trail Bermuda will be holding a series of public events in the lead-up to International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade [Mar.25].

For more than 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims of the tragic transatlantic slave trade, one of the darkest chapters in human history.

The annual, United Nations-sanctioned observance of 25 March as the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade serves as an opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system, and to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.

Contemporary engraving of conditions on an Atlantic slave ship

slave ship

The first African slaves arrived in Bermuda in 1619 — less than a decade after the island was first permanently settled by the English — and the institution existed here until the  passage of the British Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. The act came into effect in British territories on August 1 the following year, formally Emancipating all slaves.

This year’s theme, “Forever Free: Celebrating Emancipation,” pays tribute to the emancipation of slaves in nations across the world.

This year is particularly important with many key anniversaries, including 220 years since France’s General Emancipation decree liberated all slaves in present-day Haiti; 180 years since the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 ended slavery in Bermuda, Canada, the British West Indies and the Cape of Good Hope; and 170 years ago, the Indian Slavery Act of 1843 was signed.


Slavery was also abolished 165 years ago in France; 160 years ago in Argentina; 150 years ago in the Dutch colonies; and 125 years ago in Brazil.

2013 is also the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States, which declared that, on January 1, 1863, “all persons held as slaves within any States, or designated part of the State, the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

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  1. Know Thyself says:

    Now lets teach the true African History in this colinal school system

    • Nuffin but de Truth! says:

      if ya dont like what is being taught in our schools…MOVE!

      • Pastor Syl Hayward says:

        @ Nuffin but de Truth!: Wrong answer! If we don’t like what is being taught in our schools, our civic duty is to request first, and thereafter press for a balanced curriculum. Our students, black , white, Portuguese, mixed, Filipino, all deserve to get an honest picture of our history. Why should we abandon our home and our school system?

        • Rajai Denbrook says:

          Many thanks for such a considered, intelligent, and valid reply Pastor Hayward, you don’t see enough of them on here.

        • M.P. MOUNTBATTEN JP says:

          Well , what type of response should we expect from ‘Nuffin’ !

        • Bawidaba says:

          I agree. History should be taught as accurate as possible.

          As a young child I remember reading about Christopher Colombus and how he discovered America, and thinking …but there were already Indians there when he got there.

          Or reading about Juan De Bermudez and how he discovered Bermuda, only to find out that Bermuda was discovered many, many years earlier by the Portuguese?

          Why do we continue to teach history that is obviously incorrect. I realize that many of the exams that are children take are written and graded in the USA, so our teachers must often teach their students the correct (although obviously incorrect) answers. I don’t have the answer as to how we can fix it, but I know this isnt correct either.

          • Linda Wales says:

            I remember answering the question with the answer that the Indians discovered America and it was marked wrong. I then asked how could it be wrong when it is said that Christopher Columbus found Indians there when he arrived so how could he have discovered it if the Indians were already there? I was put in detention for this because I took a stand to expressed what I felt was the truth and felt I needed clarification if I was going to be taught incorrectly. This is the main reason why I feel we as parents need to teach our children ourselves about certain things such as history because they are being misled with incorrect information.

            • sage says:

              Indians are from India which is where Colombozo thought he had arrived when he named the people he “discovered”, not realizing a continent blocked his path. I think the term First Nation is more respectful to the indigenous people.

      • William says:

        Racist a$$!

  2. Concerned says:

    At one point African history was being taught but not Bermuda History and i don’t think even that is being taught now… No Bible, No Praying and no history – or is Bermuda History now Social Studies… who the heck knows Curriculum changed so many times – can’t keep up.

  3. Future says:

    Bernews: a suggestion. Please edit this and any future articles to say “enslaved” rather than slaves. Too many people have made irrational associations with Africans and slaves. As if slaves were sitting around waiting in Africa, were caught by Europeans and transported to the western world. No! Sophisticated and educated people, engineers, builder, farmers, architects, mathematicians, teachers, philosophers, doctors, chemists….all of these people were captured and enslaved. There is no such reality as “African slaves”.

    Some historians take the oxymoron to its extreme and use statements in their writings such as “newly freed slaves”. What a catastrophic contradiction.

  4. Toy Machine says:

    “Engineers, builder, farmers, architects, mathematicians, teachers, philosophers, doctors, chemists…”

    I’m sorry but no, stop trying to rewrite history. Oh yeah you weren’t Egyptians either.

    • Therealknowthyself says:

      @ Toy Machine

      Try reading a history book once in awhile. Clearly you don’t have the faintest idea of african history.

    • Future says:

      Read the book: “Not Out of Greece”. It definitively puts and end to this foolish argument. Best of all, it uses reference materials from the greatest supposed thinkers, philosophers and mathematicians Europe could produce to prove they were mere children compared to their African teachers. And yes, by their own account, Egyptians were black (never mind DNA and our own paintings prove this). Stop watching Hollywood movies and using them to soothe your conscience!

  5. CommonSense says:

    I agree that this is an important part of our history that should not be forgotten. However I think people too often overlook that slavery is still present in our world today. In fact because of the increased world population, it is likely that there are more slaves being trafficked across borders today, than there ever were in the past. Typically we think of slaves as enslaved Africans, however there are people from all over the world in many different colors that are enslaved as we speak.

    I do not want to take away from the importance of remembering the shame of slavery in our own history. But in my mind it seems hard to celebrate the end of slavery, when in reality it is still present and arguably a bigger problem than ever.

  6. There exist more than twice as many slaves TODAY, RIGHT NOW than were taken from Africa during the whole of the transatlantic slave trade.

    If you’re really concerned about slavery, say & do something about TODAY’S problem, and stop going over & over ancient history.

    • Therealknowthyself says:

      @ Secret Troop


      I guess you missed the part of the article that expressed it was a day to “commemorate, honor and remember” whilst also to “raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.”

      Also the transatlantic slave trade is by no means “ancient history” Danielson, as it did not occur prior to the early middle ages.

      • @Therealknowthyself – I missed none of the article.

        Have you read any of the articles I cited?

        Slavery today has nothing to do with racism or prejudice. It is purely a matter of poverty and exploitation.

        • Therealknowthyself says:

          Yes I did read the articles however you’re diverting your attention away from the article at hand which rightfully honors and commemorates the victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

          I’m aware slavery still exists and in many forms in our modern day society (as shown in the articles you provided) but that doesn’t make this particular day of rememberance any less significant.

          International holocaust rememberance day is equally important to the jewish community.

    • jake best says:

      we need to justify our ancient history black people,,, so go over and over it as much as you can,,,,dont listen to this fool

  7. R U Serious says:

    Secret Troop…..that is some serious reading…..Mercy!!!

  8. Victor says:

    Denial of all sorts is too easy a cop out and I personally really do believe all that stuff about seven generations as well as the sins of the fathers. Although nobody can offer a better past, acknowledgement and acceptance are the beginnings of a way forward. For there to be genuine dialog and progress, I would suggest that this starts in the hearts and minds of individuals – and is not imposed from the top down from institutions whether they be political, judicial, church, etc. Indeed, the type of sectarianism that forty plus years of party politics has created suggests that genuine healing is perhaps the last thing many of Bermuda’s political leaders have wanted.

  9. Yes I said it!! says:

    Why is it that as a Bermudians who was born and raised in this country and attended school from pre-school to Bda College, that I know more about American history than I do Bermuda’s history? It’s not taught in school at any level and books are only just starting to come out on the history of Bermuda. Even with the current history book very little is said about the history during the days of slavery or on the lives of Black Bermudians. Why is this? What has been done is a handful of persons have been plucked from history ie Mary Prince, and they are supposed to represent the entire history of slavery in Bermuda! As the saying goes ” you don’t know where you are going until you know where you have been.” We as a people need to know OUR history ( by “our” I mean Bermudians black white Portuguese and every shade inbetween) in order to move forward as a prosperous society.

  10. mpartiality says:

    Well done African Heritage Diaspora Trail. Hopefully the parents of our young black males and females will take them to those events as mentioned in the above article. We are supposed to be a people who had our shackles removed in1883! However many of us do not act like it. It is evident by our behaviours that whilst our bodies are shackle free our minds are not. With 400 years of slavery and about 100 of freedom we obviously have a lot of catching up to do. Perhaps we can get there through truth and honest reflection. These events are affording us a great opportunity to take a long hard look at where we have come from and where we should be today. Some of us got it and even more of us just do not get it. We seem to do everything in our power to give back the freedom our ancestors fought so hard for us to get. They have done their job and it is now up to us to determine if we succeed or self-sabotage. I encourage each adult to take at least one young person with them and participate in these events . Hopefully we can all take away a better understanding of the struggle and begin thinking about the importance of developing a better sense of meaning, purpose and power.