Slave trade apology is inappropriate -
The United Kingdom must atone and
pay REPARATIONS, Not Ghana !
(1 December 2006) - THE Governor General of Canada, MichaŽlle Jean who is on a four-country visit to Africa is visiting Ghana for four days, from November 27 to December 1 when she moves to South Africa. She had earlier visited Algeria and Mali.
At a State Dinner hosted in her honor by Ghana's President John Kufuor in Accra on Tuesday November 28, the Governor General is reported to have demanded an apology from African governments for the "role" that they played in the slave trade that saw the shipment of millions of Africans from their homelands some 400 years ago. In response to her demand, it is reported that Ghana's President John Kufuor had offered such apology which had been acknowledged by MichaŽlle Jean as "very encouraging."
We wish to state emphatically that we find this demand from the Governor General repugnant to say the least and a display of short-sightedness on the part of President Kufuor if indeed he did offer such an apology. For the Head of State of Canada, a country which quietly participated and benefited from the slave trade to demand from the victims of these horrendous and heinous crimes committed against its people an apology smacks of total ignorance of history as well as a recreation of imperialism which always seeks to blame the victims for their problems.
We know that many African-Americans and descendants of former slaves from Africa in the diaspora have this tendency of blaming present-day African citizens for "selling" their ancestors off to the Americas some 400 years ago. This is where MichaŽlle Jean is coming from. We sympathize with their plight but do not agree with their analysis. The present-day African countries were non-existent when the slave trade started. All over West Africa, societies consisted of small independent city-states and kingdoms whose chiefs were subjugated and bullied by the same imperialist countries like Portugal, Spain, Britain, France, Denmark and Holland. All these countries openly participated and benefited from the slave trade. And countries like Canada, Switzerland, Germany and the United States of America participated quietly on the side and benefited greatly in what is, without doubt, the greatest crimes ever committed against humanity.
The Jews have demanded, over the years and have received, apologies and billions of dollars in reparations and compensations from the countries and companies that participated and benefited from the holocaust against the Jewish people. As the first Black Head of State of Canada, one of the beneficiaries of the slave trade, what MichaŽlle Jean should be actively doing is to fight and pressure her government and others that participated and benefited from the slave trade to apologize for their crimes and offer appropriate reparations and compensation. These demands that many Black people in the diaspora have demanded for so many years have always been ignored.
We had naively believed that we now have an opportunity with a Head of State of Canada, whose ancestors were victims of this heinous crime, to help us obtain the long overdue justice. We must state that we are very disappointed in her!! If the only thing she can do is to extract an apology from the descendants of the victims of this crime and thereby absolve her country and its allies and criminal partners of blame, then our long-standing demand and struggle for apology and compensation from the perpetrators of these crimes is lost. And if our own head of State, John Kufuor indeed apologized, then we call on him too to apologize to the nation and to all people of African descent for apologizing to the perpetrators of crimes against humanity.
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