“An expression of pain and pride is the best way to describe the Memorial ACTe,” said Shujah Reiph on his recent return from visiting the state-of-the-art museum in Guadeloupe.
The Memorial ACTe museum was built on the seaside grounds of the former Darboussier sugarcane refinery, said Reiph, president of St. Martin’s Conscious Lyrics Foundation (CLF).
The museum’s black box façade and silvery mesh crown houses a permanent exhibition that “explores Slavery and the European slave trade of African peoples in the Caribbean and the Americas,” said Reiph.
“I see my visit to the museum as a pilgrimage of memory, which was necessary to do as part of the 25th anniversary of the Black History Celebration in St. Martin,” said Reiph. CLF organizes the annual island-wide Black History Celebration.
According to Victorin Lurel, former President of Guadeloupe’s Regional Council, the Memorial ACTe is “reconciling history and the memory of slavery to facilitate relations between peoples.”
The Regional Council of Guadeloupe constructed the museum in Pointe-a-Pitre, the territory’s industrial city, where the President of France Francois Hollande inaugurated it on May 10, 2015.
“President Aline Hanson and then Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs from St. Martin North and South respectively, were among the 19 heads of states, political leaders from territories, and other invited guests from the Caribbean, the USA, Europe, and Africa at the opening ceremony,” said Reiph this week.
“The Memorial ACTe is a place to celebrate the positive elements of Black history and the complexity of Caribbean history. But visiting the exhibition can also bring up the pains of the evil system of Slavery that still negatively affects some of our ways of thinking and feeling to this day,” said Reiph.
“ I think that both the pride and the pain from seeing the exhibit can help many of us understand our individual selves better and to have greater compassion for each other,” said Reiph.
The CLF cultural activist said that he plans to organize a St. Martin group visit to the museum, similar to the highly successful group tour of St. Martiners to South Africa that he organized in 2008.
The spectacular edifice has changed the landscape of Pointe-a-Pitre, attracting visitors from around world. In July 2015, US Civil Rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson visited the museum where he addressed the people of Guadeloupe.