New York – A virtual memorial to victims of the slave trade can be created along ribbons deep seabed in the Atlantic Ocean
Tributes to victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade can be found in museums and through statues, but a new proposal calls for a memorial that cannot be visited or even seen.
A proposal reads a virtual memorial of ribbons on maps of the Atlantic deep-sea floor. The estimated 1.8 million Africans who died at sea during the trans-oceanic slave trade published this month in the Journal of Marine Policy.
“It would be on a map … they can not visit it,” said Phillip Turner, a scientific policy consultant who worked on the assignment as a doctoral student at Duke University in North Carolina.
“It’s more about education about the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The slave trade routes would be indicated on charts and maps drawn by the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the United Nations body overseeing mineral activity on seabed outside national jurisdictions.
The proposal comes as the world grapples with race after George Floyd, an unarmed Black American, died in police custody in May. His death caused protests worldwide and caused a revaluation of the legacy of slavery and racism.
As protesters worldwide are monuments honoring slave owners, Confederates, and disgraceful white leaders of recent decades, their downfall opens up a debate over who should stand up to take their place.
“What happened to George Floyd’s tragedy is to really intensify the discussion,” said Ambassador Michael Kanu, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations. He was co-author of the article.
“It’s all part of the search for justice,” he said in an interview, adding that he hoped West African countries could submit the proposal to the ISA next year.
The memorial would add a cultural aspect to the economic and environmental considerations before the ISA regarding the investigation into deep-sea mining, particularly copper and cobalt, Turner said.
About 40,000 slave journeys crossed the Atlantic and, according to the authors, transported more than 12.5 million captured Africans from the early 1500s to the late 1800s.
The routes of the slave ships became the cemeteries of those who were thrown overboard, killed themselves or drowned when ships sank, the newspaper said.
The memorial would be the first of its kind to honor the victims of slave trade. The submarine wreck of the Titanic, which sank in the Atlantic Ocean in 1912, was declared a memorial by the US Congress in 1986.
Well-known monuments to land slavery include a site in Rio de Janeiro, to which an estimated 900,000 African slaves were sent, and a 15th-century slave trade house in Calabar, Nigeria.