In the past two days, Banjul has been playing host to an International Colloquium on slavery. The event initiated, sponsored and championed by President Jammeh Babili Mansa formed part of celebrations marking the 22nd anniversary of the July 22nd Revolution and is both important and symbolic for many reasons. It created a platform for the discussion and the advancement of frontiers of knowledge by exploring the impacts of slavery, slave trade and colonialism on the African continent.
Slavery, slave trade and colonialism may be things of the past but their effects cannot and must not be swept under the carpet like that.
Even to this day, there exist strong arguments that our continent and her people would have been better off without these painful episodes in our history.
The Gambia, like many other countries, has endured hundreds of years shouldering on her neck the yoke of colonialism.
While colonialism denied our people that continuity to self-rule and self determination until nationhood was eventually attained, slavery and the shipment of able-bodied youth even left a far bigger scar on our social, economic and cultural fabrics. Aside from the high toll of human cost, the premature death of thousands of people forcefully uprooted from the motherland, our forebears have equally been robbed of riches of unquantifiable value and proportion.
From the foregoing, it is imperative to see the need for a somber reflection on some of the darkest moments in human history. The hosting of the colloquium attended by experts on slavery and colonialism, students and historians is very much indicative of The Gambia and her leadership’s resolve to see that justice is served.
Our ancestors have paid a heavy price for colonialism, slavery and slave trade. It was exploitation at its very best. For now though, this international colloquium represents a landmark move in The Gambia’s quest for a UN resolution seeking reparation for the injustice meted out to our ancestors. Slavery, slave trade and colonialism are heinous crimes that have left a stain on our heritage.
It is only fitting that this truth be admitted and appropriate compensation be provided.