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Ghana to lobby AU for intercontinental initiative on reparations – President

President Akufo-Addo

Ghana has said that it will press the African Union (AU) to gain support for a cross-continent initiative to strengthen demand for reparations for the transatlantic slave trade.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said building bridges and reconnecting as a united community to address the issue of reparations was now imperative.

He said that it was essential to create a "big and cacophonous voice that cannot be ignored, and that, in the end, will force some decisions."

“It is time that the Caribbean and those of us on the other side of the Atlantic get together on this matter because it is a common fight,” he stated while addressing the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley, at the Jubilee House, Accra.

The President stressed the need to work towards a strategy that would compel the perpetrators of the trans-Atlantic slave trade “to be able to sit down across the table with us and talk about how we can achieve our goals.”

Dr Rowley's courtesy call on the President was part of his itinerary on his visit to Ghana, where he was invited to celebrate His Royal Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene's ascent to the throne.

It is the 25th year since Asantehene ascended to the Golden Stool and ruled the Asante Kingdom.

Dr Rowley is an ardent supporter of the development of an international entity, like an AU-Caribbean body, to advance the cause of reparations for African people for atrocities committed during the slave trade.

According to the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), an international organisation dedicated to racial and economic justice, nearly 13 million Africans were kidnapped and trafficked across the Atlantic to the Americas, including the British, French, and Spanish colonies, between 1501 and 1867.

About two million people are thought to have died during the atrocious Middle Passage.

"Kidnapping, trafficking, abusing, and dehumanising African people and their descendants was as lucrative for Europeans and white Americans as it was traumatising for black people.

“The trans-Atlantic slave trade enriched many white people across occupations and industries—from early European colonists to priests and popes, shipbuilders to rum and textile producers, bankers to insurers—and generated the capital used to build some of America’s greatest cities and most successful companies,” says the EJI.

While many European and American families, businesses and institutions continue to benefit today from the enormous wealth produced by enslavement, the African people are still forced to grapple with the legacy of inequality, injustice, poverty, and low self-esteem.

President Akufo-Addo said the idea of an international body to expedite the processes of ensuring reparations for the crimes committed during the slave trade was a welcoming one, “and we will work with it.”

“I think the people in Addis Ababa, the AU, will be very happy to hear this initiative, especially because of the decisions that have been taken in this last year or two along the same lines.

“It is extremely important for us, for all of us, for our self-confidence and self-worth that this matter is dealt with, if possible, in our lifetimes.

“The people were taken from here and dumped across on the other side of the ocean. So, we have a direct interest,” he told Dr Rowley.

President Akufo-Addo has been pushing the AU leadership for some time to seriously explore the issue of reparations.

"If people can be compensated for the Holocaust, Africans can be compensated for slavery," he told participants at a recent forum in Ghana's capital, Accra.

He insisted that the atrocities committed during the slave trade should not be repeated and that Africans would never again allow such evil to be perpetuated against them.

Dr. Rowley praised Ghana's government for playing a key role in generating public support for reparations to Africans.

“We the descendants of the enslaved would want to be emancipated from that inhumanity, and we have been fighting it with Africa.

“And, we think the time has come for an international body to put this conversation, this narrative to the Western world so that some sort of rectifications could come our way,” the Prime Minister appealed.

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