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Long-awaited plaque marks end of slave trade

SMILE: Enfield's first black African mayor will unveil a plaque commemorating the end of the slave trade

THE FIRST black African mayor at a north London council will unveil a long-awaited plaque commemorating the abolition of the slave trade.

Enfield councillor Christiana During, who made history when she was sworn in earlier this year, will be joined by the High Commissioners of Jamaica, Angola and Sierra Leone on October 1 to kick off Black History Month.

Designed and crafted by sculptor Les Johnson, the plaque will finally go on show after the council made a commitment in 2007 to create something to mark the milestone.

The etching on acrylic will be displayed on a pillar in the conference room at the council’s civic centre.

An extract of its text reads: “Over hundreds of years, millions of African men, women and children were captured, kidnapped and forced to undertake a journey that led to a lifetime of misery and exploitation.

“Today we all accept that slavery is abhorrent and repugnant. The bicentenary gives us the opportunity to remember the millions who suffered and died as a result of slavery, and to pay tribute to the courage and moral conviction of all those – black and white – who campaigned for abolition.

“The spirit of freedom, justice and equality that characterised the efforts of the abolitionists is the same spirit that drives our determination to fight injustice and inequality today.”

The transatlantic slave trade, which spanned four centuries, finally ended in 1807 although the practice of slavery was not outlawed until 1834.

Chandra Bathia, director of the Enfield Racial Equality Council, added: “This plaque will remind people of the shame and degradation of slavery.

“Our copy of the plaque will be prominently displayed at our Edmonton offices at Community House and another will be displayed at Edmonton Green library.

Black History Month is a national celebration focusing on the untold stories of Britain’s African and Caribbean communities through music, film, lectures and other events.

For more information about what is happening in Enfield visit www.enfield.gov.uk/blackhistorymonth

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