The Danish government has formally apologised to Ghana for its regrettable role in the slave trade which saw an estimated 12 million Africans, including Ghanaians, shipped across the Atlantic.
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade involved the forced transportation by slave traders of enslaved Africans to the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries.
The slaves were treated under the most inhumane conditions, and scars of the trade remain today with racial tension persisting in some western countries.
Centuries after the slave trade, however, the apology by the government of Denmark at the Presidency last Thursday can be deemed an act of contrition and goodwill.
“We share a dark history of slave trade, a shameful, unforgettable part of Danish history. Nothing can justify it,” the Danish foreign minister, Anders Samuelson, said, shortly after a high-profile meeting of a delegation led by the Danish Queen, Magarethe II, with Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Clearly, nothing can justify the inhuman treatment meted out to human beings under the guise of the slave trade. It will be extremely painful to recapture some of the dastardly and sinful acts that took place during that period when thousands of Ghanaians, who were beaten, tortured and exchanged for items such as ivory and gold, were shipped as slaves to Denmark and other European countries, as well as the Americas to work under stressful conditions to develop those countries.
But now that an apology has been rendered, we as a country cannot hold on to the lingering pain but look forward to building stronger ties as part of efforts to boost global well-being and development.
Years after the dark days of the slave trade, Ghana and Denmark have had warm ties and the two countries have enjoyed strong diplomatic and commercial relations. The visit by the Queen, who was accompanied by representatives of Danish companies and business organisations, is further testimony to the good relations that exist between the two countries.
The Daily Graphic notes with satisfaction that Denmark, through DANIDA, has supported Ghana in many sectors of the economy. And in view of President Akufo-Addo’s agenda of moving Ghana beyond aid, it is even more refreshing to know that Denmark is now moving from aid to trade and is gradually transitioning from development aid to trade cooperation. This is a step in the right direction.
We look forward to a cooperation that would help improve on education, address the issues of poverty and deal with graduate and youth unemployment.
On the African front, the two countries can also work to end the proliferation of conflict and endemic instability in parts of the continent.
Already, Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, has complained about the high rate of illegal migration, which, with its associated challenges, has been receiving lots of global attention in the past few years.
It will, therefore, be important for Ghana and Denmark to explore areas of cooperation and work together to curb the problems associated with the menace of illegal migration, particularly the activities of human traffickers.
No doubt, the two countries have a major role to play in global affairs, and this they can do effectively if they work together in the spirit of cooperation, unity and peace.