As the US has now officially enacted Juneteenth, a federal holiday to commemorate the abolition of slavery, demands have been set forth to do the same in Norway.
While Norway was for centuries under Danish rule (and effectively a colony itself), Denmark-Norway was involved in the so-called Triangle trade, which went between Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. From a base in West Africa, a total of 120,000 slaves were procured from local traders and brought to the New World.
According to Akhenaton Oddvar de Leon, the leader of the Organisation Against Public Discrimination (OMOD), which works to safeguard the legal security of minorities and to counter racism, Norway should do its share and acknowledge its role in the slave trade.
"It could have helped to bring out a forgotten part of Norwegian history. Many believe that because Norway was a colony, the country was absent from the slave trade. But Norway indeed had a large fleet of ships that participated in the slave trade", Akhenaton de Leon told the newspaper Vårt Land.
"Many are unfamiliar with Norway's past in the slave trade. Europe and Norway have a moral account to make up for. Additionally, such a memorial day will be for everyone, and not linked to a religious holiday", de Leon added.
The leader of the Organisation Against Public Discrimination is himself from Trinidad in the Caribbean, and has admittedly always been interested in history. He argued that a Norwegian memorial day for the abolition of slavery will spread knowledge and welcomed a public discussion about the date.
The Culture Ministry said there are currently no plans to introduce any new holidays in Norway.
In the 19th century, Denmark-Norway had one of the largest fleets in the world, a portion of which did earlier take part in the slave trade. This part of Norwegian history was recently highlighted during the wave of Black Lives Matter demonstrations against perceived historic injustices, when demands to rename the Bergen district of Møhlenpris called after slave trader Jørgen Thor Møhlen.
The Dano-Norwegian Realm existed between 1380 and 1814, whereupon Norway became subject of the Swedish Crown for nearly a century, before finally gaining independence in 1905. At its peak, Denmark-Norway possessed colonies spanning four continents (Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia). The Faroe Islands and Greenland were the last to lose their colonial status after World War II.