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For the 170th anniversary
of the abolition of slavery,
December 2018 - December 2019
represented a full year of commemoration

One year ago, the Departmental Council announced the launch of a full year of commemoration for the 170th anniversary of the abolition of slavery.

From the outset, we specified that the commemoration would include a variety of long-lasting and unifying highlights, such as conferences, seminars, concerts, artist residences, websites and awards. And thus the tone was set all over the island, not only for the month of December 2018, but also for the entire commemorative year. One key event was the ‘Gran 20 Désanm’ festival held at the Villèle museum, beautifully staged and lit up for the evening, with several thousand visitors including dignitaries from Mozambique, the Foundation for the Remembrance of Slavery, and UNESCO.

It was on this occasion that we launched the new construction project of the Villèle Museum: with this ambitious renovation campaign, the museum up in Saint-Gilles-les-Hauts will broaden its scope and now tell not only the story of the buildings, but the history of slavery as well.

Throughout 2019, we continued our research on history and remembrance, constantly mindful of the importance of a dignified and shared commemoration. We therefore worked with researchers, artists, associations, clubs and councils, strengthening ties with local communities and forging partnerships at local and national level.

Of the many actions carried out in relation to the 170th anniversary of this major historical date for both France and Reunion, most will live on in the future. All of them are intended to improve and inspire the future Villèle museum, which we really hope will meet the expectations of both the Reunionese and visitors to our island.

In the meantime, the commemorative year will come to an end with the 2nd ‘Gran 20 Désanm’.

With a completely new exhibition, entirely devoted to a slave by the name of FURCY, there will also be a presentation of the 2nd edition of the book ‘Comparative Views about Slavery’, the projection of films onto a big screen, audio tours, a ‘mini online museum’, a re-enacted slave camp, and a number of Creole-style kitchens… As well as an artistic programme bringing together more than a hundred artists (musicians, dancers, storytellers, visual artists…).

We really hope that many of you will attend this historic event.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful ‘Gran 20 Désanm’ to you all !

Cyrille Melchior,
President of the Departmental Council of Reunion Island

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