Ghana calls for Africa united front on slavery reparations
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo on Tuesday called for a united front with African leaders on demands for reparations for transatlantic slavery and colonial-era damages.
Some Western leaders have recently moved to acknowledge the wrongs of the colonial era in Africa and museums have begun returning stolen African treasures and artefacts.
But the concept of paying financial reparations over a trade that shipped millions as slaves from West and Central Africa remains vague.
Ghana’s leader has been vocal in calling for reparations and used his speech to the UN General Assembly this year to demand more acknowledgement of the impact of colonial exploitation.
“No amount of money can restore the damage caused by the transatlantic slave trade and its consequences. But surely, this is a matter that the world must confront and can no longer ignore,” Akufo-Addo said at a reparations conference with African leaders in Accra.
“Even before these discussions on reparations conclude, the entire continent of Africa deserves a formal apology from the European nations involved in the slave trade,” he added.
Akufo-Addo called on Africa to work together with the Caribbean to advance reparations, labelling it a “valid demand for justice.”
Describing slavery and colonialism as “Africa’s dark phase”, President of the Comoros and African Union Chairperson Azali Assoumani said the impact still “wreaks havoc in our population”.
Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier this month expressed his “shame” at crimes committed during his country’s colonial rule in Tanzania.
Earlier this year, the owner of British newspaper The Guardian apologised for the role of its founders in transatlantic slavery and announced a “decade-long programme of restorative justice”, following an independent probe.
While the debate over reparations for slavery is still developing, the restoration of stolen treasures and artefacts has steadily advanced.
Nigeria is in the process of bringing back thousands of 16th to 18th century metal plaques, sculptures and objects that were looted from the ancient Kingdom of Benin and found their way into museums and with art collectors across the US and Europe.
Many of the artefacts were originally taken in 1897, when a British military expedition attacked and destroyed Benin City.
Nigeria’s neighbour Benin last year inaugurated an exhibition of its artworks and treasures returned by France after two years of negotiations.