The Secretary General, Head of the Civil Service and Minister of Presidential Affairs has described slavery and colonialism as crimes against mankind that dehumanised Africans and African descendants. He added that the evil of injustice from slavery and colonialism left indelible scars in the minds of humanity.
Speaking on behalf of the Gambian leader at the Banjul International Colloquium held at the Coral Beach Hotel and Spa (formerly Sheraton) yesterday, Dodou Bami Jagne said the colloquium is organised as a mission to correct a historical injustice meted on humanity.
Organised by the Government of The Gambia, under the theme; “Reparation: Remembering the past, sharing the future”, the colloquium is part of activities marking the 22nd edition of the July 22nd Revolution. The international conference is intended to build on past momentum to forge a greater field of study that puts justice into a landscape that can give the seventy first session of the United Nations General Assembly the resolution on recognition, restitution and reparation for slavery and colonialism a new meaning and importance.
SG Jagne maintained that there is empirical evidence that Africa made Europe rich but said it is good that Africans are no longer prisoners of their own conscience. According to him, there is no historical equivalent to crimes against humanity than slave trade. “It is responsible for the brutal attack on our people and forcefully taking them away,” he said.
He said in spite of the small size of The Gambia, the country would table the declaration against slavery and colonialism at the 71st session of the Assembly in September. “We are rendering services to our ancestors, our children and our generations yet to be born.”
SG Jagne then expressed hope that the colloquium would be useful to many including the former colonial masters, saying millions of our ancestors have perished from the hands of colonialism, mismanagement and malpractices.
Neneh Macdouall-Gaye, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said the colloquium gathers to immortalize Africans and people of African descent who perished as a result of the atrocities of the slave trade and colonialism and to articulate concrete measures to indemnify countries that were ravaged by these historical crimes.
She described the initiative as the boldest move to obtain justice for the death and suffering of our ancestors and the destruction of countries by slave traders and colonialists.
She emphasised that for far too long, international recognition of the evils and injustices of the slave trade and colonialism have been banished to the archives of history, saying there has been a calculated conspiracy to silence advocates and thwart efforts to put the issue on the international agenda.
“We as African people are therefore grateful that President Jammeh has emerged as the voice of conscience and the voice of the voiceless to lead the campaign to obtain reparation for the disastrous effects of the slave trade and colonialism on Africans and people of African descent.”
Dr Leonard Jeffries, a Professor at the City University of New York and a member of the World African Diaspora Union (WADU) thanked President Jammeh for the initiative, saying knowledge is power and African knowledge is African empowerment.
He maintained that to fully distance ourselves from slavery and colonialism, Africans must find a way to chart the road for a powerful people for the future. “It is our individual responsibility to find and research our history,” he said.
According to him, The Gambia organising the colloquium is the beginning of a larger process for the recreation of a new development.
“With our going deep into the analysis, we hope that the slave trading system that took place on the Atlantic Ocean would be discussed.”
He said to make things work for Africans, “we must first understand our pinnacle; the synthesis and that is our culture. So we are from a large concentration of family.”
He maintained that the colloquium is a declaration to the entire world that the games that have been played for hundreds of years are over, saying if there is no struggle, there is no progress.
by Amadou Jallow