Every year on May 27, Guadeloupe celebrates Slavery Abolition Day. The holiday is also celebrated in other Caribbean nations formerly colonised by Europeans, who were notorious for enslaving indigenous peoples and subjecting them to atrocities. On Abolition of Slavery Day, citizens attempt to confront the past. Additionally, those enslaved by serfdom or other forms of involuntary servitude observe this significant date. The day reminds us of humanity’s violent past and our efforts to prevent its repetition.
The background of Slavery Abolition Day (Guadeloupe)
Slavery Abolition Day is observed annually on May 27 in Guadeloupe, a French overseas department in the Caribbean Sea where Native Americans have resided for centuries. This day marks the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Guadeloupe in 1848.
In November of 1493, Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer, arrived at Saint Mary. He later named the island Guadeloupe in honour of the Santa Mara de Guadalupe monastery in Extremadura. However, on June 28, 1635, the French overthrew the indigenous inhabitants and took possession of the island. The settlers then resolved to plant sugar cane and bring West African slaves to the Caribbean to perform the labour. In 1674, the French monarchy established Guadeloupe as a colony where a plantation economy flourished. The 1800s were a difficult period in Guadeloupe. Initially held by the British from 1759 to 1763 (during the Seven Years’ War), it was returned to France with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. However, it was retaken by the British in 1794, but Victor Hughes, the Convention’s Commissioner, immediately reclaimed it and worked to abolish slavery. A petition by Victor Schoelcher ultimately ended slavery on April 27, 1848. A month later, complete abolition went into effect. In order to alleviate the labour deficit on plantations, Indian indentured labourers began arriving in the late 1900s.
Slavery Abolition Day commemorates Guadeloupe’s long struggle against slavery and the decree that granted freedom to enslaved people, bringing an end to oppression in the region. It is a commemoration of the triumph over oppression and a ray of hope for the future.
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5 previously unknown facts about slavery
The earliest instances of servitude were documented in Sumer, Mesopotamia.
Over ninety percent of African slaves were transported to the Caribbean and South America.
Over 12 percent of those transported across the Atlantic on slave ships perished en route.
Between 1526 and 1867, approximately 12 million Africans were transported to the Americas as slaves.
It is estimated that more people are enslaved currently than at any other time in history.
SLAVERY ABOLITION DAY (GUADELOUPE) DATES