Slavery program planned

Published 3:10 am Friday, October 23, 2009

SELMA — The Slavery and Civil War Museum is hosting an all-day event on Saturday for the second annual Maafa Celebration. A Kiswahili word, maafa translates to “terrible occurrence.”

Guests are invited to participate in an interactive tour of the museum at 9 a.m., silent procession across the Edmund Pettus Bridge at 10 a.m., marker dedication ceremony at the National Voting Rights Museum Memorial Park at 11 a.m., book signing of Raymond Winbush at 2 p.m., showing of the documentary “Brotherhood Against Apartheid” at 6 p.m. and a performance of “The Healing Story” at 7:30 p.m. at Wallace College.

Winbush is author of “Belinda’s Petition,” which tells the story of an African slave named Belinda and her fight with state legislature to receive reparations for her 50 years of working on a plantation.

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The Maafa Celebration is an international event that “lifts up that history by remembering and being thoughtful of it,” said Malika Fortier, program coordinator. “It brings healing.”

Fortier wants the event to reflect what is good from African traditions and what needs to change for the future.

“We want people to be more knowledgeable about the past and heal the wounds created in the past,” Fortier said.

The Slavery and Civil War Museum opened in 2002. Starting in 2005, the museum began offering interactive tours. On these tours, guests are not warned that their tour is interactive until they step out of the car at the museum. Guides act as slave owners, yelling with profanities at guests as they are quickly shuffled into the unlit building.

“We like to tell the history in a way that we’re not shaming anyone, not blaming anyone. But in order to understand it, we must tell the truth,” said Afriye We-kandodis, tour specialist.

Guests are packed into a dungeon area and then a boat to cross the Middle Passage, piling atop one another to fully illustrate the conditions of the past. It’s where they strip you of culture, identity, and sometimes your dignity,” We-kandodis said.

Culminating the tour with a discussion called a “circle of greatness,” guests are invited to discuss the events of the tour, race and culture. “We have to do healing work to repair those relationships,” Fortier said.

Events are open to the public at no cost, except for the play at Wallace College. Tickets are $10 and can be bought in advance or at the door. Contact Wallace College at 876-9227.