Work to change African narrative of despondency - President Akufo-Addo to people of African descent
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on people of Africa descent to work and change the African narrative which has been characterised largely as a continent with a concentration of diseases, hunger, poverty and illegal mass migration.
He said Africans must help make the continent a place for investment, progress and prosperity to discourage the youth from fleeing in the hope of a better life in Europe or the Americas.
President Akufo-Addo, who made the call at the opening of a maiden reparations conference in Accra yesterday, also urged Africans to remember that the destiny of black people, no matter where they were in the world, was connected to Africa.
The four-day conference, which is on the theme: “Building a united front to advance the cause of justice and the payment of reparations to Africans”, was spearheaded by the AU Commission and was attended by representatives of Africa heads of state, ambassadors, high commissioners and members of the diplomatic corps.
President Akufo-Addo said it was time for Africa, whose sons and daughters had their freedoms curtailed and sold into slavery, to also receive reparations.
He, however, said no amount of money could restore the damage caused by the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and its consequences which spanned many centuries.
The President said the Caribbean community had unequivocally pronounced its demand for the payment of reparations and, therefore, “we in Africa must work together with them to advance that cause”.
"The call for reparations is not a plea for alms, but a valid demand for justice.
If reparations can rightfully be paid to victims and descendants of the victims of the holocaust, so can reparations be paid to the descendants of the victims of the slave trade,” he said and added that “it has been 400 years and we want to bring closure to this tragedy”.
President Akufo-Addo, whose address was received with applauds, also said the entire continent of Africa deserved a formal apology from European nations involved in the slave trade for the crimes and damage it had caused to the population, psyche, image and character of the African the world over.
President Akufo-Addo further said the initiative for the return and restitution of African cultural properties to the continent must also be a major issue of concern for all Africans.
“We must call for the return of African cultural properties that were illegally and shamelessly transported from the continent.
“This reconnection of the present and the past will also help to build new relations with the international community, especially Europe, which was principally responsible for the original theft of the cultural properties,” the President stated.
He said when they were returned, it would also offer Africans the opportunity to develop local knowledge of the technological, cultural, social and aesthetic value of the objects.
“Ghana has also successfully recovered some of the stolen cultural properties and relics.
For example, in 2008, the government collaborated with the elders of Ahanta to return the severed head of Nana Badu II, who was executed in 1838,” the President said.
Others include the return of some family collections of the Ashanti royal family and an Asante stool in 1988 by the British Government.
President Akufo-Addo, who is a co-convener of the conference, said never again should the black person allow him or herself to be subjected to the dehumanising conditions of slavery.
The Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, commended Ghana for bringing the subject of slavery and reparations to the fore and for hosting the conference, adding that it was a step towards a more proactive future for Africa.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, said Africa and its diaspora were still reconnecting and collectively healing from the deep wounds inflicted by slavery and colonialism.