Osabarima Kwesi Atta II, Omanhen of Oguaa Traditional Area, said Africans and those in the Diaspora should use the UN International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery to fight contemporary slavery on the continent.
He said although slavery and slave trade was abolished so many years ago, the African continent was still challenged with debt, forced recruitment of child labour and child soldiers and illegal sex trade which were equally dehumanizing.
Osabarima Kwesi Atta said this on Saturday in Cape Coast to mark the celebration of this year’s International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
The celebration, organized by the UN Information Centre in Accra, was attended by school children, students, chiefs, Africans from the Diaspora and a cross-section of the public. It was under the theme: “Forever Free: Celebrating Emancipation”.
The day is marked annually to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system and to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice in the contemporary society.
The Omanhen said 150 years after most countries officially abolished slavery, people of African descent who may or may not be descendants from slaves continue to suffer the racial discrimination which characterized the frightful era.
He said the collaborators, perpetrators and benefactors of the trade had not yet apologised appropriately or addressed reparations for their acts.
Osabarima Kwesi Atta commended the UN for commemorating the day and said the day must mark more than a ritual or symbolic exercise but urgent and serious commitment for action must be made to repair the damages caused and ensure that humanity never returned to such savagery.
Ms Vivian Etreh, Cape Coast Metropolitan Director of Education, commended the UN for the day and stressed that everything should be done to protect and promote the human rights, freedoms and dignity of all people who continued to suffer under modern forms of slavery.
Ms Cynthia Prah of the UN Information Centre, who gave a brief background of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, said it was the largest migration in history and undeniably one of the most inhumane.
She said this year’s theme paid tribute to all those who worked tirelessly to overturn the acceptance of the slave trade and institution of slavery as legitimate and moral.
A message by the UN Secretary General, which Ms Prah read, said: “We must never forget the torture, rape and killing of innocent men, women and children, the families that were separated, the lives that were uprooted and the horrific conditions on slave ships, plantations and at the slave markets.
“These degradations cannot be buried by time; they must be examined , understood and addressed.”
Mr Stephen Korsah, representative of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, said although slavery had been abolished there were still icons and edifices like the castles to remind people of the unpopular and inhuman trade which took place 400 years ago.
He underscored the importance of castles in the slave trade and called on all to find time to visit the Cape Coast castle to learn more about the slave trade, adding that last year alone about 1,916 people visited the Cape Coast castle.
The Bakatsir Methodist School, St Monica’s , Pedu M/B and Philip Quaicoe Boys schools and the University of Cape Coast History Students Association that staged dances and cultural performances were presented with citation of participation and reading materials on the activities of the United Nations.