Exploring Modern Slavery in James Town

Exploring Modern Slavery in James Town

As principle investigator for the Anti-Slavery Knowledge Network funded project Hidden Histories: the untold stories of Slavery and James Town, I have spent a good deal of time in Ghana over the last twelve months.

I have been traveling to, and working in, Ghana for nearly twenty years engaging in various applied theatre programmes (often with project partner the James Town Community Theatre Centre), researching the 2005 copyright law and eating kenke and hot sauce. This project has afforded me the opportunity to engage with the place and the project partners in James Town in a much more sustained way.

The project is a hard one; the focus – modern slavery – is disturbing on many levels and there are plenty of testimonies that we have heard that have been deeply affecting. The organised and sophisticated abuse of children and vulnerable adults and the normalising of exploitation and death is, obviously, awful. What is worse, if anything can be, is the denial that the situation even exists.

Over the course of the year, the project has enabled us to gather multiple testimonies, turn them in to a performance and show it to young people in the community and local schools. Consequently, we have been able to develop a discussion that did not really exist before at the community level and we have seen future community leaders engaging with the issues of modern slavery in James Town.