President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says the effects of slave trade have been devastating to the African continent and African Diaspora, with the entire period of slavery stifling Africa’s economic, cultural and psychological progress.
This, he said, had therefore made the payment of reparations for Africa and the African diaspora long overdue.
Speaking at the Reparations and Racial Healing Summit yesterday, President Akufo-Addo bemoaned the fact that the subject of reparations “becomes a debate” only when it comes to Africa and Africans.
According to him, when the British ended slavery, all the owners of enslaved Africans received reparations to the tune of £20 million, the equivalent today of twenty billion pounds sterling, but enslaved Africans themselves did not receive a penny.
He pointed out that, likewise in the United States, owners of slaves received $300 for every slave they owned, with the slaves themselves received nothing.
He added that 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 have 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,” he stated.
Time for reparations
President Akufo-Addo insisted that it is time for Africa, whose 20 million sons and daughters had their freedoms curtailed and sold into slavery, also to receive reparations.
Whilst reiterating that no amount of money can restore the damage caused by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and its consequences, which had spanned many centuries, the President stated it is now time “to revive and intensify the discussions about reparations for Africa.”
He entreated 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,” he added.
With the Caribbean Community, CARICOM, having taken the lead in the reparations debate, President Akufo-Addo 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 to capitalise on the opportunities that await us in the future,” he contended.