President Akufo-Addo says the commemoration of the 400th Anniversary of the commencement of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is recognition that never again should Africans permit themselves to be subjected to such dehumanising experience.
Describing the slave trade as “one of the most unfortunate and barbaric episodes of human history”, he noted that 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.
“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 personality of the African were assaulted, and the imprints of imperialism and colonialism woven deeply into the fabric of our lives,” he said.
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, the President stated that “we have a sacred duty and an onerous responsibility to help restore the dignity and pride of the African.”
He continued, “We are a continent of some 1.3 billion people, more than either the populations of Europe or the Americas; we are an enterprising, hardworking and innovative people, and we must make it count.”
President Akufo-Addo made this known on Monday, when he spoke at an event organised by President Uhuru Kenyatta, on the sidelines of the ongoing 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Ghana, according to the President, is using the symbolism of 2019, dubbed as 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 ensuring that this blot on the history of Africa never reoccurs.
It will be recalled that Ghana kicked-off the ‘Year of Return’, with its launch in Washington D.C., in October 2018, and continued with the December 2018 Full Circle Festival, involving over 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 Home Coming 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, President Akufo-Addo noted, “should enable us, in the African Union, to consolidate and strengthen our links with our Sixth Region, i.e. the African Diaspora of the so-called ‘New World’, which have laid dormant, and make operational and extend the Free Movement Protocol to those in the Diaspora seeking to resettle in Africa.”
Looking forward to welcoming people from the continent and from the Diaspora to Ghana, he indicated that now is the time to engage each other more positively, and imbibe in ourselves a deep consciousness and understanding of the history of the African peoples.
“We, in Ghana, will ensure that the focus of activities commemorating the arrival of the first African slaves in Virginia showcases the achievements, creativity, ingenuity and resilience of the African peoples through the ages,’ he added.
Africans, President Akufo-Addo added, “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.”