President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has demanded the payment of reparations for the countries affected by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “No amount of money will ever make up for the horrors, but it would make the point that evil was perpetrated, that millions of productive Africans were snatched from the embrace of our continent, and put to work in the Americas and the Caribbean without compensation for their labor.”
Taking his turn to deliver Ghana’s national statement at the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the President noted that the time had come for Europe and the United States of America to acknowledge that the vast wealth they enjoy was harvested from the sweat, tears, blood, and horrors of the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the centuries of colonial exploitation.
“Maybe we should also admit that it cannot be easy to build confident and prosperous societies from nations that, for centuries, had their natural resources looted and their peoples traded as commodities,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo stressed that the world has been unwilling and unable to confront the realities of the consequences of the slave trade.
He, however, indicated that this is changing gradually, and it is time to firmly bring the subject of reparations to the fore.
“Granted that current generations are not the ones that engaged in the slave trade, but that grand inhuman enterprise was state-sponsored and deliberate, and its benefits are clearly interwoven with the present-day economic architecture of the nations that designed and executed it,” he said.
The President continued, “If there are any hesitations in some minds about the paying of reparations, it is worth considering the fact that, when slavery was abolished, the slave owners were compensated for the loss of the slaves, because the human beings were labeled as property, deemed to be commodities. Surely, this is a matter that the world must confront, and can no longer ignore. The AU has authorized Ghana to hold a global conference on the issue in November in Accra.”
Touching on the vexed matter of illegal financial flows from Africa, he referred to the report of the panel chaired by the highly respected former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, on the illicit flow of funds from Africa, which states that Africa is losing, annually, more than eighty-eight billion United States dollars ($88 billion) through illicit financial outflows.
“Yes, those monies too must be returned to the continent. It is difficult to understand why the recipient countries are comfortable about retaining such funds and are happy to call those countries from whom the monies are taken as corrupt,” President Akufo-Addo indicated.
He was of the belief that a joint taskforce of the African Union Commission and the OECD Secretariat, under the auspices of the UN, should be charged to find ways of stopping the damaging outflows.