International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is intended to raise awareness of the tragedy of the slave trade, and encourage collective consideration of the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of this tragedy.
Slavery in Africa existed before the arrival of Europeans; however their arrival transformed the way in which the trade was conducted. Driven by a desire to profit from the newly discovered territories of the Americas, slaves were often subjected to inhuman living and working conditions. Slave owners generally supplied only the minimum food and shelter required for survival, and expected their slaves to work 48 hour shifts in order to maximise profitability during harvest time.
The desire for profit also transformed the scale of the slave trade. Over the course of four and a half centuries up to 12 million Africans were enslaved and transported to the Americas. 6 million slaves were transported during the 18th century alone, with Britain being the largest trader during this time, responsible for the transport of over 2 million Africans.
During the seven week journey from Africa and the Americas, slaves were tightly packed on board ships which could carry between 350 and 600 people. As slaves were left with as little as 4ft space, this meant that disease travelled quickly and approximately 15% of slaves died during this time.
The 23 August marks the night of the uprising in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) which acted as a crucial trigger in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.