He said Africans ought to strengthen their commitment to ensuring that that blot on the Continent’s history did not repeat itself.
President Akufo-Addo made the call on Monday at an event organized by the Kenyan Leader Uhuru Kenyatta, on the sidelines of the ongoing 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Describing the slave trade as “one of the most unfortunate and barbaric episodes of human history,” the President said the commemoration of the 400th Anniversary of the commencement of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was to recognize the fact that Africans should never allow themselves to be dehumanized and be sold into slavery.
He noted that the nearly 12.5 million Africans from Central and West Africa sold into slavery had their freedoms curtailed to build and create wealth for the peoples of unknown lands where they were sent.
“As though this was not enough, the Continent had to endure centuries of being colonized by the same people who undertook the slave trade. The identity and personality of the African were assaulted, and the imprints of imperialism and colonialism woven deeply into the fabric of our lives,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo stated that as Africa commemorated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first West African slaves in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in what subsequently became the United States of America, “we have a sacred duty and an onerous responsibility to help restore the dignity and pride of the African.”
“We are a continent of some 1.3 billion people, more than either the populations of Europe or the Americas; we are an enterprising, hardworking and innovative people, and we must make it count.”
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that Ghana was using the symbolism of 2019, dubbed: the “Year of Return,” to bring together Africans, persons of African descent, and all well-wishers and lovers of freedom to strengthen the commitment to ensuring that slavery never happened again on the Continent.
Ghana kicked-off the “Year of Return,” an event to give fresh impetus to unite the people in the Diaspora with their kindred in Africa, with its launch in Washington D.C, in October 2018.
This was followed by the Full Circle Festival last December, where more than 70 African American celebrities visited Ghana to reconnect with their African heritage.
The “Year of Return” would commemorate the 400th year of the extraordinary sacrifices, achievements and contributions Africans in the Diaspora made to the lives of the Americans.
President Akufo-Addo said the celebrities, who participated in the Full Circle Festival, were able to view Ghana and, indeed, Africa from their own lenses and were able to “Eat, Feel, See and Wear Ghana”.
The Back-2-Africa Festival, the Home Coming and Investment Summit, the African-American Investment Forum, and the Pan-African and Emancipation Day Celebrations are some of the activities that would be held to commemorate the year-long event.
The commemoration, President Akufo-Addo noted, “should enable us, in the African Union, to consolidate and strengthen our links with our Sixth Region, i.e. the African Diaspora of the so-called ‘New World,’ which have laid dormant, and make operational and extend the Free Movement Protocol to those in the Diaspora seeking to resettle in Africa.”
Looking forward to welcoming people from the Continent and from the Diaspora to Ghana, he indicated that; “Now is the time to engage each other more positively, and imbibe in ourselves a deep consciousness and understanding of the history of the African peoples.”
“We, in Ghana, will ensure that the focus of activities commemorating the arrival of the first African slaves in Virginia showcases the achievements, creativity, ingenuity and resilience of the African peoples through the ages,’ he added.
Africans, President Akufo-Addo added, “must be proud of our rich heritage, a heritage which encompasses the ancient Kingdoms of Benin, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kongo, Mali, Mutapa, Songhai and Zimbabwe, and the world-renowned centres of learning of the University of Al Azhar in the 10th century, and the University of Sankore in Timbuktu in the 13th century. I am proud to be an African.”