Ghosts also gives life to those who were forgotten. While you walk down streets named after merchants who profited from the enslavement of people – Ingram Street, Glassford Street, Buchanan Street – the narrative remains firmly centred on the enslaved people, rather than the merchants who have countless biographies and portrait. The characters become people with lives, who felt pain, anger and loss, who resisted and fled. It is a powerful assertion of the humanity of enslaved people in the face of all attempts to dehumanise and forget them. As Onashile says:
“We don’t know what happened to him, and history hasn’t afforded him a name or presence, but this is our attempt at saying that he existed, and though we can’t be sure whether he ever found the refuge he was seeking, this is our attempt to put his ghost to rest.”
As memory institutions, museums and archives also have a role in the present to decide who and what we remember and to afford people the humanity that history has deprived them of. In doing that, there is much that can be learned from Ghosts.
Curator (Legacies of Slavery and Empire)
Ghosts can be downloaded from either the App Store for Apple devices or Google Play for Android devices, between 26th April and 9th May 2021. Price: £4.99