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The slaves of yesterday

Of the few words that the actress Lupita Nyong’ o pronounced when receiving the 2014 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the press has mostly remembered the final passage: "This statue means that no matter where you come from, your dreams can still be realized". Yet the initial words of the thirty-one Kenyan actress awarded for her role as the slave Patsey in the film of Steve McQueen 12Years a Slave, were far more interesting. Taken from the autobiography (1853) by Solomon Northup, the film tells the story of a coloured violinist, a free man in the State of New York who, through deception, is kidnapped and taken to Louisiana where he would remain in slavery for 12 years. After expressing her thanks for her Oscar, Nyong'o added: "Not even for a second can I however forget that the joy of this moment was made possible by the enormous suffering of someone else. Precisely for this reason I want to thank the spirit of Patsey, who has guided me. And I want to thank Solomon for having told the true story of this girl, and his own."

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