Saturday, March 31, 2007.
200 Years After Slave Trade
From: DAVID YARBOI-TETTEH - Elmina
HISTORY it self this time not to engage in slave trade but to reflect on the atrocities of slavery on the African continent and African Americans in the Diaspora.
The solemn event, dubbed, “Reflections” was held at the forecourt of Elmina Castle, one of the sports that played significant role in slavery activities by the Colonial Masters before its abolition 200 years ago by the UK parliament.
It gave a vivid and emotional account about the sufferings of the ancestors before being transported by ships to the new world to work on the plantations and construction sites in the Caribbeans and the Americans.
The event, organized by the British Council in collaborating within eh Ghana @ 50 so culture and secretariat, Edina Traditional Council regional and district co-ordinating councils and the Ministry of culture and chieftaincy aimed at reflecting on the significance of the abolition of the slave trade was to explore the relationship between the UK and Africa including the Diaspora over the past 200 years and look forward to a future of more positive and mutually beneficial relationships.
It uses the exploration of culture and identity to generate fresh ideas and create new understanding between individuals and communities in Africa and the UK.
The programme showed the various cultural and traditional heritage of the land of the African continent from the West to East through South and the North as well as cultures from the Diaspora.
The Edina Manhene, Nana Kodwo Conduah VI, was actually not in cloth but in the circle used by warriors during the colonial era to depict the role that the chiefs played in challenging the colonial rule.
Perhaps, one thing that – to quicken in the minds of brothers from the Diaspora was the “Joseph Project” by the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Regulations don’t need to retrace their roots.
Professor Kofi Anyidoho of the University of Ghana and Obour, a Ghanaian Hiplife Artiste together enacted a poetic performance of slavery which was applauded by the audience.
The performance by the African Caribbean drummers really showed the culture of the Caribbeans to the Ghanaian as people likened it to the jama or the kolomashee dance of the Chiefs and people of the Ga State.
The President, Mr. J.A. Kufour and Baroness Valerie Amos, leader of the British House of Lords and President of the Privy Council of Britain represented the people of Ghana and the UK respectively during the event.
President Kufour in his address said that it was regrettable that Africans who were victims of the slave trade, also participated in it and said that the way forward was to show remorse and accord those who suffered enslavement and their successors the full human rights.
“Through NEPAD, the African Union on its part is seeking a reconnection with Africans in the Diaspora. The European Union and American nations in turn must make commensurate gestures”, he added.
He said the celebration cannot be wholesome altogether since the basic problem of slavery of which the slave trade was a symptom, continue to be prevalent all over the world and called for a proper redress of the real causes of the problem.
Baroness Amos said the issue of the slave trade still remains one of the darkest and most uncomfortable chapter in Britain’s history, saying. “That is why the British Prime Minister, Tony Lair, has expressed his deep sorrow at Britain’s role in it.
She said the impact of slavery in slave trade was profound in the form of racism, prejudice and discrimination which still play a role in today’s modern world.
She called for a renewed collective commitment to tackle issues of people-trafficking, racism, discrimination and under-development of the African continent.
“Today as we recall the suffering of the past let us also remember the optimism of abolition and the challenges which face our collective future”, she stressed.
Nana Kodwo Conduah VI on his part recalled that the Edna Township was forced in wars from different ways as the colonial powers thought each other again dominion over this castle and the forts.
“No doubt, we were drawn into these intrigues and indeed our people suffered bombardment at the hands of the British army and colonial authority in 1873. So severe was the bornbardment that, our forbear and the custodians banned the hoisting or showcasing of the British flag in Edinaman and this has been the norm up to today”, he asserted.
Additionally, he said, “We recount this history not to draw swords but essentially to enable us to learn from the lessons from this regrettable experience of the slave trade and colonialism”.
The Director-General of the British Council, Sir David Green, noted that about 20 million people, mostly women and children are still enslaved.
Touching on the effect of the slave trade, he said, the world cannot today undo that history, saying “but we can and must encourage each generation to explore it, to understand it and to debate anew: and as an interdependent world we must ensure that Europe, Africa and America and the Caribbean do so together”.
“No one who comes to Elmina Castle can fail to be deeply moved by the experience”, he add.
THE SPECTATOR - Saturday, March 31, 2007 Page: 19