African leaders and the diaspora have converged in Accra, Ghana to advance the cause of justice and the payments of reparation for the exploitation, inhumane and atrocities meted out to Africans by the Atlantic slave trade.
Dubbed “Accra Reparations Conference,” leaders on the continent, the diaspora, academia, legal experts and civil society organisations have met in Ghana’s Capital to dialogue, share knowledge and formulate actionable strategies to address the historical injustices spanning the slave trade era, segregation, colonialism, apartheid, neo-colonialism and neo-liberalism.
The identification of how slavery, colonialism and racism had impacted the lives of black people across the world has necessitated the advocacies and campaigns to demand reparations, foster healing and restore dignity to Africans.
In his address, the host President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, said Ghana was humbled to host such a conference to demand the reparations for Africans in the slave trade era.
The demand for reparation, according to President Akufo-Addo, is not a plea for alms but the dispensation of justice for Africans, adding that no amount of money can restore the damage caused by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
However, the Ghanaian President stressed that payment of reparations needed to be made to Africans for the inhumane atrocities committed against them.
President Akufo-Addo argued that if reparations could rightfully be paid to the victims of the holocaust, reparations could be paid to the victims of the slave trade.
“We cannot quantify the pain we have suffered from the slave trade atrocities, but it has to be acknowledged,” the President stated.
Slave trade, according to him, has hugely devastated the psychic and social fabric of Africans and demanded a formal apology from European nations be made to Africans for the inhumane treatment meted out to them in the slave trade.
The Caribbean community, according to President Akufo-Addo, has unequivocally announced its demand for the payment of reparation, adding: “It is now time for Africans to revive and intensify the discussions about reparations for the continent, as the time is long overdue.”
President Akufo-Addo also supported the return and repatriation of African cultural properties to the continent.
That, he emphasised, would help Africans and in particular the descendants of the communities, groups and individuals who created and produced these cultural properties to reconnect to their history, pioneers, knowledge and skills.
This reconnection to the past and the present, the President explained, would help to build new relations with the international community, especially that of Europe, which was principally responsible for the original thefts of cultural properties.
Most of these cultural properties, he maintained, when returned, would also offer Africans the opportunity to develop local knowledge of the technological, cultural, social and respected value of the objects.
President Akufo-Addo stressed that the reparation and repatriation of stolen and looted African cultural properties under pre-colonial and colonial circumstances must be issues of major concern to all Africans.
Countries such as Senegal, Nigeria and Benin have managed to regain possession of some of their cultural properties that were illegally moved out of their territories.
Ghana has also managed to restitute some of its stolen cultural properties and relics. The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has set up a national focal team on restitution and repatriation to research and advice on international best practices and guidelines and how it would support the country in the restitution process.
At no other time in history has the demand for a global black identity been more apparent than this dispensation. However, there has been a significant gap in this renewed energy for advocacy and political commitments.
Experts say the discussions and debates, especially those within Africa are happening in silos. “The interventions seem half-hearted; the campaigns appear uncoordinated and there seems to be a lack of comprehensive strategy and agenda for reparations.”
However, there is a significant gap in this renewed energy for advocacy and political commitments.
The African Union (AU) for instance, has become more vocal in its demand for restitution for stolen African religious symbols and cultural relics, as well as a recognition of the African diaspora community in the advocacy for reparations.
The four-day event, themed “Building a United Front to Advance the Cause of Justice and the Payment of Reparations to Africans,” will attempt to address these inconsistencies.
Distinguished leaders at the conference were Prime Minister of Togo, Victoria Tomegah Dogbe; Chairperson of African Union, President Azali Assoumani, representatives of South Africa, Kenya, and Algeria, as well as Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, among other world leaders.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD