President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the commencement of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is a recognition of the fact that never again should Africans permit themselves to be subjected to such dehumanising conditions and be sold into slavery.
Describing the slave trade as “one of the most unfortunate and barbaric episodes of human history”, the President said nearly 12.5 million Africans from Central and West Africa were sold into slavery, had their freedoms curtailed in order to build up forcibly countries other their own and created wealth for the peoples of unknown lands to which they were sent.
President Akufo-Addo made the remarks at an event organised by the President of Kenya, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, on the sidelines of the ongoing 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday.
A release issued from the Presidency to the Daily Graphic yesterday did not give further information on the event.
Restoring African dignity
It quoted President Akufo-Addo as saying: “As though this was not enough, the continent had to endure centuries of being colonised by the same people who undertook the slave trade.
The identity and the personality of the African were assaulted and the imprints of imperialism and colonialism woven deeply into the fabric of our lives.”
As the continent commemorated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first West African slaves in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in what subsequently became the United States of America (USA), he said “we have a sacred duty and an onerous responsibility to help restore the dignity and pride of the African”.
He pointed out that Africa was a continent of some 1.3 billion people, more than the population of either Europe or the Americas, that Africans were an enterprising, hardworking and innovative people and said: “We must make it count.”
Bringing Africans together
President Akufo-Addo said Ghana was using the symbolism of 2019, dubbed the ‘Year of Return’, to bring together Africans, persons of African descent and all well-wishers and lovers of freedom to strengthen the commitment to ensure that the blot on the history of Africa never recurred.
Ghana launched the ‘Year of Return’ in Washington, DC, in October 2018 and followed it up with the December 2018 Full Circle Festival, involving more than 70 African-American celebrities visiting Ghana to reconnect with their African heritage.
They were able, in the words of the President, to view Ghana and, indeed, Africa, from their own lenses and were able to “eat, feel, see and wear Ghana”.
The Back-2-Africa Festival, the Homecoming and Investment Summit, the African-American Investment Forum and the Pan-African and Emancipation Day celebrations are some of the activities that will be held to commemorate the year-long event.
The commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the commencement of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, President Akufo-Addo said, “should enable us, in the African Union (AU), to consolidate and strengthen our links with our ‘sixth region,’ that is, the African Diaspora or the so-called ‘New World’, which has laid dormant, and make operational and extend the Free Movement Protocol to those in the Diaspora seeking to resettle in Africa”.
While looking forward to welcoming people from the continent and from the Diaspora to Ghana, the President said now was the time to engage one another more positively and inculcate in “ourselves a deep consciousness and understanding of the history of the African peoples.”
He said Ghana would ensure that the focus of activities commemorating the arrival of the first African slaves in Virginia showcased the achievements, creativity, ingenuity and resilience of Africans through the ages.
“Africans must be proud of our rich heritage, a heritage which encompasses the ancient kingdoms of Benin, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kongo, Mali, Mutapa, Songhai and Zimbabwe and the world-renowned centres of learning of the University of Al Azhar in the 10th century and the University of Sankore in Timbuktu in the 13th century. I am proud to be an African,” President Akufo-Addo added.