1619 to 2019: 400th Year
From the Door of No Return to the Year of Return:
February 22-24, 2019 with Venues as part of the Historic Lessons.
Sankofa Youths Reaching Back to Fetch and for All to Explore the Historic Connectivity.
Honorary Chairpersons With History and the Connection
Mr. Samuel Hingha Pieh
In the Year of Return, Sierra Leone is the first dating to 1787 when groups of about 400 black Londoners arrived in Sierra Leone and established Granville Town, named after British abolitionist Granville Sharp. When the settlement was destroyed by the indigenous inhabitants in 1789, British abolitionists sent a second, larger party of about 1,100 former American slaves who had been resettled in Nova Scotia, Canada, at the end of the
The Nova Scotian Settlers or Sierra Leone Settlers (also known as the Nova Scotians or more commonly as the Settlers) were
who founded the settlement of
Freetown, Sierra Leone
on March 11, 1792.
A native of Sierra Leone, Mr. Samuel Pieh is facilitating the Year of Return to promote this unique history with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Tourism. His great-great-grand father is Sengbeh Pieh, the leader of the Amistad legend. In January 1839, 53 African natives were kidnapped from Africa and sold into the Spanish slave trade. They were placed aboard a slave ship bound for Havana, Cuba. Once in Havana, the Africans were classified as native Cuban slaves and purchased at auction by two Spaniards, Don Jose Ruiz and Don Pedro Montez.
The two planned to move the slaves to another part of Cuba. The slaves were shackled and loaded aboard the cargo ship
(Spanish for "friendship") for the brief coastal voyage.
However, three days into the journey, a 25-year-old slave named Sengbe Pieh (or "Cinque" to his Spanish captors) broke out of his shackles and released the other Africans.
The slaves revolted, killing most of the crew of the
, including the cook and captain. The Africans forced Montez and Ruiz to return the ship to Africa.
During the day, the ship sailed due east, using the sun to navigate. However, at night, Montez and Ruiz would change course, attempting to return to Cuba. The zig-zag journey continued for 63 days. The ship finally grounded near Montauk Point, Long Island, in New York, USA. The United States federal government seized the ship and its African occupants -- who under U.S. law were "property" and therefore cargo of the ship. On August 29, 1839, the
was towed into New London, Connecticut.
The government charged the slaves with piracy and murder, and classified them as salvage property. The 53 Africans were sent to prison, pending hearing of their case before the U.S. Circuit Court in Hartford, Connecticut.
The stage was set for a significant, controversial, and highly politicized case. Local abolitionist groups rallied around the Africans' cause, organizing a legal defense, hiring a translator for the Africans, and providing material support. Meanwhile, the Spanish government pressured the U.S. President, Martin Van Buren, to return the slaves to Spain without trial.
Sengbeh Pieh, also known as Joseph Cinque in American history books, and his peers became a reference for Anti-Slavery Abolitionists' Campaign to end Slavery. With help and support from diverse groups of people and organizations, the Amistad Africans were tried and freed in the US Supreme Court after a compelling defense by former President and Lawyer John Quincy Adams. He spoke for nine (9) hours. Here is the excerpts of the
He was the first and only former President to argue before the Supreme Court.
The Year of Return is a tribute to goodwill and preserving the innate dignity of humankind.
This historical event inspired Debbie Allen and Steven Spielberg to produce the movie Amistad in 1997. Mr. Samuel Pieh was a cast member as Language Coach and Screen Actor representing Suuleh who was one of the Elders among the enslaved Africans.
The Right Reverend Dr. James E. Terrell. Host
The Rt. Revered Dr. Terrell is the Pastor of Second Baptist Church in Washington, DC built by slaves. Second Baptist was founded in 1844. The facility took 10 years to build and complete from 1884 to 1894. It is a historic landmark as it served as an Underground Railroad, a vast network of people and organizations that helped fugitive slaves escape to the North and to Canada. The effort consisted of many individuals -- many whites but predominantly black -- who had the local know-how.
In 1786 George Washington complained about how one of his runaway slaves was helped by a "society of Quakers, formed for such purposes." The system grew, and around 1831 it was dubbed "The Underground Railroad," after the then emerging steam railroads. The system even used terms used in railroading: the homes and entities where fugitives would rest and eat were called "stations" and "depots" and were run by "stationmasters," those who contributed money or goods were "stockholders," and the "conductor" was responsible for moving fugitives from one station to the next.
The Honorable Samuel Dotse. Keynoter
The Honorable Samuel Dotse is a founding Member of the African Union Economic Social and Cultural Council National Chapter, Ghana. As President, he coordinated the launching of National Chapter with the active participation and support of the of the Ghanaian Foreign Ministry and the African Diplomatic Corps. ECOSOCC Ghana is a model for Member States. Ghana is the first African Nation to officially launch the Year of Return.
When competently launched and functional, National ECOSOCC chapters constitutes the only organ at the African Union with presence in Member States at the civil society level to support public sector initiatives. The Honorable Dotse is a former Deputy Presiding Officer of the Western Region at the African Union Economic Social and Cultural Council.
Mrs. Odile Yemba
Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the Year of Return, African Embassies, which represent their AU Member States and their Nationals Living Abroad - in the Diaspora, are are the highest and most authoritative source of official information and connection to their countries and, collectively, Africa. From the Heritage to sharing the ingenuity of people of African origin, come to the Gate of Return - each 55 State is part of the tapestry of the diversity of Africa's grace and hospitality.
Come, it is the 400th Year.
The beauty and opportunity in AU Member States remain mostly untold . African Embassies have a vital role to play. Mrs Odile Yemba, in the consular service, has been a model with active and consistent diplomatic presence in the civil society.
The Africa We Want is one where Peace enables the Year of Return. We are proud to honor the DRC and Kenya.