The act of vandalism to a public statue in Bordeaux, France has left the city’s inhabitants feeling uneasy. The culprits have not been found but many believe that it could be a racist attack against the African slave statue. For those unfamiliar with the history of this region, Bordeaux was once a major transit station for slaves being transported from Africa to America during slavery times. The particular statue at the center of the controversy was unveiled in 2007 and depicts a slave with broken chains.
The vandals removed one hand of the figure, breaking off two fingers. The mother’s hands appear to be wrapped around the baby’s head, as if protecting it protect against blows or blinding. The young child appears to be screaming in agony. There are also small holes where it appears that the eyes of the figures were gouged out.
The six foot bronze statue which stands on a stone pedestal was donated by Christiane Taubira, who is France’s first black female minister. She is known for her pivotal role in enacting France’s law legalizing same-sex marriage, the Taubira law. She also has endured constant racist slurs because of her position as a black woman in France’s government.
Taubira recently tweeted about this incident saying: “France was a Slave State” adding, “This monument is the very least we can do to pay homage to those ancestors whose and memory we must cherish, as we owe them gratitude and respect.”
The monumental black statue is situated at the Quai de la Douane (Customs Quay) which was once one of Bordeaux’s primary ports for slave ships. The city has a long history of slavery; the first slaves arrived here in 1670 and continued until 1848. At the time, it was one of France’s most active and important slave ports.
Many city residents believe that this act was racially motivated due to the recent comments by an extreme right-wing politician. Gérald Darmanin who is a member of Francois Fillon’s Republican party said: “The Taubira law (which recognises slavery as a crime against humanity) needs to be rewritten.”
After the statues hand was removed, he tweeted: “If someone destroys or defaces this statues (sic.) I would be tempted to do the same thing. And why not?”. This tweet has since been deleted. The mayor of Bordeaux Alain Juppé said that this act was “an unacceptable attack on the values of our Republic”.
For more information see : Statue of Slave in French Port town is Vandalised – The Voice Online
Monument Honouring Slavery Victims Desecrated in France – YNaija
Vandals break fingers off Bordeaux slave statue – Reuters Africa Eye News
France ‘was a slave state’ – The Local France
Slavery memorial vandalised in France with chains removed from the statue – The Independent UK
Statue of Slave Desecrated In French Port Town – Vanguard News Nigeria
Bordeaux – Monuments aux esclaves – Bridges to Africa – Géopolitique de l’esclavage en France