The International Conference on Slavery in Africa in Yaoundé, April 2022

The international conference ‘Knowledge and Decompartmentalization’ about ‘Slavery in Africa’ was held at the University of Yaoundé (Cameroon) from April 19 to 21, 2022. Mamadou Sène Cissé and Mariam Coulibaly, secretary general and treasurer of the Donkosira association, were able to participate.

The aim of this meeting was to demonstrate the historical importance of slavery in Africa, its weight in contemporary social relations, through the collection and preservation of oral and written sources; and to contribute to the review of the most recent knowledge and significant scientific advances, in order to disseminate them in school and university courses and in civil society. In recent years, research on slavery in Africa has enjoyed a certain dynamism, with the publication of numerous reference works and reports, supported in part by international research programs.

The conference was organized by URMIS (Research Unit on Migration and Societies, Institute of Research for Development / University of Cote d’Azur, France), in partnership with CARTE (African Center for Research on Trafficking and Slavery, Cheick Anta Diop University, Dakar, Senegal), CRHIA (Research Center for International and Atlantic History, University of Nantes, France), the SLAFNET network and the University of Yaoundé The opening ceremony was presided over by the Rector of the University of Yaoundé I, H.E. Maurice Aurélien Dosso, with speeches by the representative of IRD in Cameroon, the Rector of the University of Maroua, the representative of the French Ambassador, and the coordinator of the SLAFNET network. Cultural troupes and a choir accompanied the ceremony.

During the conference, Professor Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch presented a paper on the genesis of the African history of slavery. The second day began with a plenary roundtable discussion moderated by Giulia Bonacci (IRD/URMIS) with a discussion of the books Les mondes de l’esclavage, une histoire comparée (Benedetta), and Les esclavages en Afrique (Marie Pierre Ballarin and Klara Boyer – Rossol). A batch of books was offered to the University of Yaoundé, in order to contribute to research in the field.

The conference was organised into panels, which each joined according to the program. Panel 11 dealt with the teaching and history of slavery: Mamadou Sène Cissé and Mariam Coulibaly (Donkosira) made a presentation on the history of descent-based slavery in Mali. Other themes were addressed: “Slavery and Trafficking in Cameroon (15th- 20th century)” (presented by Professor Ahmadou Séhou (University of Maroua), “Slavery in Africa: Knowledge and Decompartmentalization” (by Catherine Coquer-Vidrovitch).

On the third day, a roundtable on strategies to fight slavery in Africa was held, in which Malian Gambana activists invited by our SlaFMig program participated: Salif Kamara (Vice President RMFP Gambana) and Diaguily Maro Kanouté (Regional President – Kayes section, RMFP Gambana).

At the closing of the conference, the Malian delegation was particularly thanked, and the role of young researchers was highlighted several times. The leads provided by the DONKOSIRA association and Dr. Marie Rodet were highly appreciated.

Aline Desdevises, Mamadou Sène Cissé, Mariam Coulibaly

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