President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has observed that no amount of money will ever make up for the horrors faced by countries affected by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
However, he has called for the payment of reparations to such countries, indicating that the money would make the point that evil was perpetrated.
“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 labour,” he said.
Addressing the 78th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York last Wednesday, President Akufo-Addo said Europe and the United States of America (USA) must acknowledge that the vast wealth they enjoyed was harvested from the sweat, tears, blood and horrors of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and centuries of colonial exploitation.
He said the world had been unwilling and unable to confront the realities of the consequences of the slave trade and added that it was changing gradually, and it was time to bring the subject of reparations firmly to the fore.
“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.
“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 added.
President Akufo-Addo stressed that if there were any hesitations in some minds about the paying of reparations, it was 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 labelled as property deemed to be commodities”.
He emphasised that the issue was a matter that the world must confront, pointing out that the African Union (AU) had authorised Ghana to hold a global conference on the issue in November in Accra.
On the impact of illegal financial flows from Africa, President Akufo-Addo referred to the report of a panel chaired by a former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, on the issue, which stated that Africa was losing annually, more than $88 billion through illicit financial outflows.
He, therefore, expressed confidence in the creation of a joint task force of the AU Commission and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) secretariat, under the auspices of the UN, to find ways of stopping the damaging 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,” he said.
Touching on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), President Akufo-Addo indicated that before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana, like many other parts of the world, was making progress with the 17 SDGs.
However, the pandemic negatively impacted many of the efforts but expressed the optimism that Ghana had good reason to achieve the 2030 target.
“Today, the picture we have of our performance is not very bright. Most of the 21 targets designated for achievement by 2020 have not been met, and we are not on track to achieve many other targets by 2030.
“We have stalled or retrogressed more than 30 per cent of the targets,” stressing the need to accelerate action on the entire project as the “Progress on 50 per cent of the targets is weak”.