Wing A of the Intercontinental Slavery Museum (ISM), aiming to give more visibility to slavery and slave trade in the Indian Ocean, was inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, this evening, at the ex-Labourdonnais Military Hospital in Port Louis. The Minister of Arts and Cultural Heritage, Mr Avinash Teeluck, and the Chairperson of ISM Mauritius Ltd, Mr Jean Maxy Simonet, were also present.
A publication on the recommendations of the Public Consultation Process on the theme 'Breaking the Silence', organised by ISM (Mauritius) Ltd from 21 October 2020 to 21 January 2021 in the context of the implementation of the ISM project, was also launched.
The ISM was established following key recommendations of the 2012 report of the Mauritius Truth and Justice Commission, which was set up to investigate the history of slavery and its consequences in Mauritius. The museum was converted from the ex-Labourdonnais Military Hospital which is among one of the oldest buildings in the country and is highly significant in the history of slavery.
The ISM aims to study slavery and the slave trade in the Indian Ocean; gather, collect and preserve documents and oral history on slavery; create and preserve a catalogue of artefacts related to slavery; host a permanent exhibition and organise regular travelling exhibitions; promote curricular development and scientific research as well as the production of educational and pedagogical materials.
In a statement, Prime Minister Jugnauth said that through the ISM, Government is paying tribute to the hard work, perseverance, and sacrifice of the slaves who have greatly contributed to the socio-economic development of the country.
The ISM, he underlined, demonstrates Government's commitment to raising awareness on the legacies of slavery and the slave trade, as well as promoting the African diaspora and a more inclusive society for all. It also comprises a Research and Documentation Centre to enable the population to conduct research and have access to information on Mauritian history and intercultural dialogue under one roof, he indicated.
Prime Minister Jugnauth underlined that Government will spare no efforts in the implementation of the second phase of the project and will take into consideration the findings and recommendations of the public consultation process. Phase two, he recalled, will consist of the full restoration of the building, housing of the museum and actual conceptualisation and setting up of the museum, following the conduct of an overarching Heritage Impact Assessment and Visual Impact Assessment exercise for the buffer zone of the Aapravasi Ghat World Heritage Property and approval by the UNESCO.
The Minister of Arts and Cultural Heritage, Mr Avinash Teeluck, spoke of the technical and financial support received from the Government of France as well as other countries, namely Japan and the United States of America, regarding the implementation of the second phase of the ISM Project.
The ISM, he pointed out, is a big achievement for the country, as until today, there was no such place where the population could explore, study, and transmit the histories of slavery and the slave trade and indentured labor in the Indian Ocean region.
For his part, the Chairperson of ISM Mauritius Ltd, Mr Jean Maxy Simonet, recalled that the first phase of the setting up of the ISM, namely the renovation of the building, was launched on 20 October 2020, adding that after exactly one year the first phase is being launched despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19. He indicated that discussions for the second phase have already started and expressed optimism that the second phase will be implemented in due course.