For the Departmental Council, the 20th December this year (2018) will take on an exceptional character. The celebration of 170 years of the abolition of slavery in France directly echoes the main cultural project of the Departmental Council for the current electoral term: the programme for the De Villèle Historical Museum, museum of the estate and of slavery.
We wish to organise an important 20th December celebration at the museum and throughout the island. Solemn and festive, cultural and popular.
This is a commemorative year (December 2018-December 2019) which, in all its aspects, will prefigure the future museum, which we hope will become a scientific and cultural centre of excellence as regards the topics covered, as well as a reference centre for cultural tourism in Reunion.
30 or so researchers, about the same number of artists, associations, town councils, State authorities, sports committees and associations, clubs and partners from the economic sector are already working side-by-side with us in order to:
– enrich and transmit knowledge about slavery in Reunion
– enhance and share cultural heritage elements originating in slavery and the collective memory
– give the actors of history a visible and dignified presence
– include the history of slavery in Reunion in the universal and timeless history of slavery around the world.
Other partners will certainly come to join us, since we should like to involve all the inhabitants of Reunion, so that this year’s commemoration may echo throughout the territory, involving an even greater number of local, national and international partners and that the projects of the Departmental Council may be federating and permanent.
Every day we hear about extremist movements of all sorts developing around the world, as well as about people being excluded, in connection with these movements. Reunion must not sacrifice the ideal of unity that its people have been working to construct, day after day, since the historical act which made this possible: the declaration of the abolition of slavery in 1848. Liberty is not created through a decree, once and for all, but needs to be conquered on a daily basis.
In a spirit of dignity and harmony, we will make sure that the 20th December celebrated in 2018 becomes a truly great 20th December and that the year 2019 becomes a great commemorative year.
It is a time for consolidating our knowledge of the history of slavery, for praising liberty and celebrating a great period of unity.
Cyrille Melchior, President of the Departmental Council of Reunion
The Departmental Council invites all the people of Reunion to celebrate the 170th anniversary of the abolition of slavery with the artists, researchers, museum curators, associations, institutions, partners from the economic sector and schools.