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Slavery Still Exists

Jun 12, 2008, 5:38 AM | Article By: By Abba A.S. Gibba

- Secy Grey-Johnson

Mr. Crispin Grey-Johnson, Secretary of State for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, has asserted that Africans are the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade that lasted for some four hundred years. He reiterated that the slave trade did not only cause untold misery, suffering and damage to Africans, but that it also led to the colonisation of the continent and the institutionalisation of racism, especially in the Americas and certain parts of the African continent itself.

He added that there is no gainsaying the fact that slavery and racism have taken their toll on the Africans who have remained the only victims of these crimes and have not received as much as an official word of apology, not to mention reparations.

According to him, even after the formal abolition of slavery, the practice of slavery has endured in different forms through the many acts of racism. This, he said, has affected the lives, and caused the deaths of millions of Africans on the continent and beyond, as well as through the emerging growing phenomena of human trafficking, sexual slavery, child prostitution among others.

He explained that the effects of slavery and racism on African social, economic and political fabric have been debilitating and enduring to this day.

Secretary of State Grey-Johnson was speaking on Tuesday at the opening session of the four- day African Union Expert Group meeting on slavery and follow-up to World Conference against Racism underway at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.

"It is therefore fitting, albeit long overdue, that as a people, we should come together to craft a common position on the subject and racism and their continued drag on the self-actualisation of Africans wherever they may be," he said.

Secy. Grey-Johnson revealed that "the racist trans-Atlantic slave trade has been classified in international law as a crime against humanity," adding that it is in the same league as the holocaust, apartheid, genocide and ethnic cleansing.

"It is no secret that the Jews, the Japanese, the native Australians, the native Americas and every other group against whom such crimes were perpetrated have all received some form of restitution or an apology or both.

"Why have Africans and people of African descent remained the only victims of these crimes, that have not as much as received an official word of apology, not to mention reparations, for the death and destruction caused by this crime committed against them?" he queried.

"As we prepare for the forthcoming review of the implementation of the Durban Declaration in 2009, let us refresh our memories on some of the salient points agreed in that declaration.

"The declaration calls, among other things, for the provision of effective remedies, recourse, redress and compensatory and other measures at national, regional and international levels.

"As Americans observe the bi-centennial of the abolition of slave trade in the United States this year, and as the United Nations prepares for mid-term review of the United Nations Durban conference on racism, let us rise up together and for once make it known to the whole world that we have not forgotten our history, and that we shall never forgive those who have wronged us for as long as they refuse to ask that forgiveness and offer to make amends" Mr Grey-Johnson averred.

Experts from member states and the Diaspora are attending the meeting. According to Mrs. Julia Dolly Joiner, Commissioner for Political Affairs, African Union Commission, the meeting has been convened in pursuance of the 10th African Union Summit, which was held in January/February 2008 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At that time the Executive Council requested the African Commission to convene an expert group meeting on the subject matter and to submit a report thereon at the next ordinary session of council in July 2008. Central to such a report, she noted, is the formulation of strategies to deal with the historical and continuing realities of slavery and racism.