African leaders have unanimously condemned the historical injustices including slavery and apartheid meted out to the continent and its people during the dark days of slavery.
A unanimous call has also been made for the return of looted resources by the slave masters and their descendants.
At the Accra Reparations Conference, the leaders took turns to highlight how the trans-Atlantic slave trade has perpetually become a spanner in the wheels of the continent’s progress and the need to make amends today.
The four-day conference is under the theme “Building a United Front to Advance the Cause of Justice and the Payment of Reparations to Africans.”
The aim is to generate actionable strategies for securing reparations for slave trade, segregation, colonialism, apartheid, neo-colonialism, and neo-liberalism.
Deputy Chairperson for the African Union Commission, Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, said the call for reparations and justice for the victims of the slave trade and their descendants has never been more urgent. The detrimental effect according to Dr Nsanzabaganwa continues to impact the socioeconomic situation on the continent.
“The demand for reparation is not an attempt to rewrite history or to continue with the cycle of victimization. It is a call to recognize the undeniable truth, and right the wrongs that have gone unpunished for far too long and continue to thrive presently,”she said.
Reparations according to the speakers also demonstrate the continent’s commitment to justice and restoring the dignity of Africans.
Prime Minister of Burundi, Gervais Ndirakobuca described the centuries of colonialism as an abominable act that has denied Africans their resources, and thus challenged Britain, France, and other colonial masters to surrender the cultural heritage that they stole from the African continent.
He also charged the current crop of African leaders to fight neocolonialism by striving for economic independence.
The African continent is still recovering from the deep wounds suffered during slavery. Mindful of that painful fact, Chairperson of the African Union, H.E. president Azali Assoumani of the Union of Comoros said slavery has done irreversible harm to Africans. He explained the scope of reparations the African Union is asking for.
“Financial reparation will cater for the harms just like it has been done in other regions. Reparations also involve initiative which aims at strengthening victim communities through education and the guarantee of equality in the phase of opportunity for sustainable development for these communities who have for long been left behind”H.E Assoumani said.
As the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence, President Akufo-Addo spoke about the special responsibility Ghana owes to Africans in the diaspora, thus the need for the just call for reparations.
In his address, he said “When the British ended slavery, all the owners of enslaved Africans received some £20 million pounds, equivalent today of some £ 20 billion pounds sterling. The enslaved Africans themselves received nothing. Likewise, in the USA, owners of slaves received $300 dollars for every slave they own. The slaves themselves received nothing. Native Americans have received and continue to receive reparations. Jewish people, six million of whom perished in the concentration camps of Hitlarized Germany, received reparations including homeland grants and support. It is time for Africa, twenty millions of whose sons and daughters had their freedoms curtailed and sold into slavery, also to receive reparations’’
What remains unclear for now, is whether or not the leaders will at the end of the advocacy, put forward an amount of money as compensation for the continent and those in the diaspora once the advocacy is concluded.
For now though, they are unanimous on the call for the return of stolen artifacts