President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said the payment of reparation for the 20 million Africans sold into slavery is long overdue.
He said even though the perpetrators who were the so-called owners of the slaved Africans had received reparations, it “becomes a debate” only when it comes to Africa and Africans.
Speaking at the Reparations and Racial Healing Summit on Monday, President Akufo-Addo said when the British ended slavery, all the owners of enslaved Africans received reparations of £20 million then, equivalent to £20 billion.
“But enslaved Africans themselves did not receive a penny. Likewise, in the United States, owners of slaves received USD$300 for every slave they owned; the slaves themselves received nothing.”
In the case of Haiti, the country had to pay reparations amounting to $21 billion to French slaveholders in 1825 for the victory of the great Haitian Revolution, the first in the Americas and the Caribbean which freed the slaves.
Native Americans, according to President Akufo-Addo, received and continue to receive reparations; Japanese-American families, who were incarcerated in internment camps in America during World War II, received reparations.
“Jewish people, six million of whom perished in the concentration camps of Hitlerite Germany, received reparations, including homeland grants and support.”
President Akufo-Addo said even though no amount of money could restore the dignity of the enslaved Africans by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade which had spanned many centuries, it was time to revive and intensify the discussions about reparations for Africa.
The consequences and effects of the Slave Trade had been devastating to the African continent and the African Diaspora, the President said, adding: “it stifled and continued to stifle her economic, cultural and psychological progress.”
The President thus asked the participants at the Summit not to overly concern themselves with modalities for the payment of reparations but rather work to establish, unequivocally, first the justice in the call for reparations.
“And, even before these discussions on reparations conclude, the entire continent of Africa deserves a formal apology from the European nations involved in the slave trade for the crimes and damage it has caused to the population, psyche, image and character of the African the world over,” the President added.
President Akufo-Addo, who commended the Caribbean Community, CARICOM for taking the lead in the reparations debate, urged the African Union to engage with “our kith and kin from the diaspora”, and form a united front to advance the cause of reparations.
“The discourse on reparations cannot succeed without emphasis on racial healing. We need to heal from the wrongs of the past in order to capitalise on the opportunities that await us in the future,” he added.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD