On May 10th, on France’s National Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade, Slavery and its Abolition, the SlaFMig project team based in Copenhagen an online conference in partnership with the Centre for Advanced Migration Studies (AMIS), to hear and showcase the experience and the voice of Salif Kamara, vice-president of the Rassemblement Malien pour la Fraternité et le Progrès (RMFP) – an anti-descent-based-slavery organization active in France and Mali, at the national, regional and local level. The conference, called “Contemporary Slavery, Forced Migration and Diasporic Activism in West Africa”, centered around the transnational involvement of the Malian diaspora in the fight against descent-based slavery as part of the “Gambana” movement (meaning equality in rights and dignity in Soninké). After two shorts contextualizing presentations given by AMIS thesis writers Leah Durst-Lee and Nolwenn Marconnet, Mr. Salif Kamara generously answered questions from the organizers and from the audience and shared valuable insights on the origins of Gambana – born in the Soninké diaspora in France in 2016 – and the work done by diaspora-born organizations such as RMFP, including awareness raising on WhatsApp groups and legal action both in France and Mali. Among other things, he highlighted the need to combat descent-based slavery practices simultaneously in the diaspora and in Mali, as there is a continuity of slavery practices in the diaspora, leading to attacks, verbal aggression, problems with marriage, and conflicts around participation in village funds.
The event was bilingual, and we were pleased to be joined by both French and English speakers from West Africa, Europe, and North America.