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Djimon Hounsou’s new initiative focuses on the importance of the diaspora retracing their roots. In the mid 1990’s, Hounsou starred in the Steven Spielberg directed historical drama “Amistad”. This role significantly impacted Hounsou and his own relationship with Benin, his home country.
The now 58-year-old tells The Washington Post that his participation in the film further educated him on the history of African people. He learned the extent to which the slave trade resulted in the loss of ancestral roots and knowledge.
Djimon Hounsou’s new initiative was inspired by this period of reflection. It was a huge inspiration behind the creation of the Djimon Hounsou Foundation in 2019 on December 2, which the United Nations marks as the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.
Hounsou, participated in the 16.19 run intended as part of the initiative to increase awareness of history “and each other”. The 16.19 kilometer distance route has historical interactive landmarks along the way.
The foundation aims to reconnect the African diaspora with their roots. It also seeks to fight modern slavery and human trafficking.
On Saturday 17 September, the foundation hosted the inaugural Run Richmond 16.19. The event ran across three continents – Richmond, Virginia, Liverpool, England, and Ouidah, Benin. These are the host cities for the Reconciliation Triangle created by Liverpool-based artist Stephen Broadbent.
When connected through straight lines, the trio of sculptures replicate the Triangle of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Triangle of Hope.
What he hopes for:
When speaking to The Washington Post, Hounsou said that he hoped “it will bring a certain journey of experiencing 400 years of Black history, where you can touch and feel”. On Saturday morning, the Richmond route commenced with a drum call and libation ceremony held by the Elegba Folklore Society.