President Wavel Ramkalawan has called for Seychelles and Mauritius to reaffirm their commitment to promote and defend the dignity and rights of their people and to continue to be an example for other countries.
According to State House, Ramkalawan made the address at an official wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the 189th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery in Mauritius on Thursday, February 1, of which he was the chief guest.
Present at the ceremony were the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, the Vice President of Mauritius and the Cabinet of Ministers.
Ramkalawan said he was honoured to be present and to share in this historic and emotional moment with the people of Mauritius and that the ceremony paid tribute to all the ancestors who suffered from the crime of slavery, and were oppressed by forced labour.
“We will never forget them and their contribution in building our society. Slavery in all its forms is one of the darkest chapters in human history. For several centuries, millions of men, women, and children suffered the toughest form of oppression that we can imagine, where their freedom and dignity were taken away from them, treated as simple commodities, and their human bodies and spirits were broken by a cruel and oppressive system,” he said.
The President added “The slave trade and business fuelled by greed for money and a false belief in racial superiority, destroyed families and communities and completely devastated many civilisations.”
|Ramkalawan was the chief guest at the ceremony to commemorate the 189th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery in Mauritius. (State House) Photo License: CC-BY
He noted that the history of slavery and its suffering continues to cast a shadow on their consciousness and that it reminds them of the human cruelty that existed in society.
Ramkalawan underlined the importance of not forgetting all the millions of people around the world who are victims of modern slavery and exploitation today, in one form or another, caused by global conflicts, economic imbalances, lack of education, lack of basic services, starvation, diseases among others.
“It is our duty, especially in knowing our past, to continue to sensitise the international community to this modern scourge and see how we can contribute to its elimination,” he said.
Ramkalawan affirmed that Seychelles and Mauritius would remain engaged in their collective efforts to promote and defend human rights, human dignity, and freedom of the two nations.
“The history of Mauritius and Seychelles is one highlighted by tears, suffering, struggle, and sacrifice of our ancestors. Whether in the sugarcane plantations of Mauritius, or the coconut plantations in Seychelles, or on the islands, many generations of African slaves, followed by the labourers in this barbaric system, worked under the tropical sun and nourished the fertile soil of our island with all their might and their blood. From that period of slavery until our independence, our two nations have gone through many challenges and obstacles,” he added.
Ramkalawan said, “Today, when we recognise the progress we have made, let’s not forget our common heritage and shared destiny that unites us.”
|Le Morne International Slave Route Monument is a tangible expression of the history of slavery in Mauritius.
He reiterated Seychelles’ position regarding the issue of Chagos.
“We fully and unreservedly support Mauritius in its efforts and progress to return Chagos under Mauritian sovereignty. Our support is based on the principles of justice, national sovereignty, territorial integrity and respect for international law. Mauritius has every right to the Chagos and we strongly denounce all attempts to deny its sovereignty. Together, we will continue to stand with Mauritius and firmly support it in its course for the recognition of its sovereignty and justice,” he said.
He also noted that through all the obstacles encountered, the two nations came out stronger and more resilient, united in their determination to build a future based on the principles of freedom, legality, social, material and spiritual well-being, and justice for all our citizens.
“Let us reaffirm our commitment to promote and defend the dignity and rights of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity or belief. Let us stand together as two proud and independent nations, united in our shared heritage and our common humanity. We have come out of the shadows, in the darkness we have been in, progressing on the path of development and prosperity,” said Ramkalawan.
He added that “Today, Mauritius and Seychelles are universally recognised and considered as beacons of hope in our region. Our shared history and our exemplary bilateral relations go beyond all borders and limits. Let us, together, continue to be an example of hope in this divided world. Let us continue to work together for a future anchored in the values of freedom, dignity and legality for all our citizens.”
Le Morne International Slave Route Monument is a tangible expression of the history of slavery in Mauritius and around the world, especially with the inscription of Le Morne Cultural Landscape on the UNESCO World Heritage list.