Pan-African conference on reparations opens in Accra
A pan-African conference on reparation payments for colonial era injustices and slavery opened on Tuesday in Ghana’s capital Accra.
Attending the conference is the chairperson of the African Union, AU commissioners, some African government representatives as well as other Africans from the diaspora.
The conference is pushing for reparations for injustices committed against Africans during the slave trade, segregation, colonialism, apartheid, neo-colonialism, and neo-liberalism.
Delegates are hoping to develop a unified and effective strategy which covers an effective modality towards securing the reparations Africans seek.
This gathering is the first after the African Union endorsed a recent push for payment of reparations to Africans and people of African descent for historic injustices.
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The African Union commission’s deputy chairperson, Monique Nsanzabaganwa told the gathering that the reparations are justified and go beyond financial compensations.
“Reparations are more than merely financial transactions; they are a moral and ethical obligation. They represent our acknowledgment of past wrongs and more importantly the resolve to make amends. It is a tangible step towards justice, equality and healing for those who have suffered and continue to suffer the consequences of historical injustices,” she said.
A key champion of the reparations in recent years has been Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo who said this push for reparation was long overdue.
“It is time for Africa, 20 million of whose sons and daughters who had their freedoms curtailed and sent into slavery also to receive reparation. No amount of money can rstore 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. The entire continent of Africa deserves a formal apology from the European nations involved in the slave trade,” Akufo-Addo said.
Demand for reparations isn’t new in Africa with South Africa hosting the Global African Diaspora Summit in 2012 pushed. British MP, Bell Ribeiro Addy said it is important countries that committed the colonial injustices and past crimes don’t dictate how these reparations are paid.
“Whiles I am a daughter of Ghana, I am a British politician. The policy of reparation would made in parliaments like mine, but I do not believe that western countries should be detecting how and what is given in reparations. The injustice must stop now and that means reparations must be carried out on the terms of those who are most impacted,” Addy said.
This week’s conference will have the first ever African Committee of Experts on reparations to develop a Common African Position on Reparations and incorporate an African Reparatory Programme of Action.
Jasmine Mickens from Open Society Foundation, urged delegates to present a unified front if results are to be realized.
“We are not here to speak and share words of inspiration, but we lead with collective action, and we take seriously what this movement requires to be sustained and I am even more excited about what we would do in the days to come,” Mickens said.
Delegates at the conference would explore the legal and moral grounds for the reparations and explore different models of reparatory justice.
They would also among others at this conference develop an action plan for a sustainable reparatory justice process in Africa at the end of the conference.