Pay Africa reparations for slavery, colonialism

The continent's economy suffered a huge setback due to the loss of its productive manpower. [iStockphoto]

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has revived the subject of reparations to Africa for the monstrous injustice meted on the continent by the slave trade.

He is right. When the story of Africa's underdevelopment is told, sometimes derisively, no one mentions the debilitating impact of the trans-Atlantic slave trade on Africa, and the Arab slave trade before it.

It is estimated that up to 20 million people were shipped out of Africa during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. They were taken to America and the Caribbean where they were sold to the highest bidders in open markets like livestock.

They were then forced to work in plantations, helping to build the economies of these countries, some of now among the world's biggest economies; economies built with the blood, sweat and tears of our forefathers.

Back home, families were devastated after they lost their loved ones. The continent's economy suffered a huge setback due to the loss of its productive manpower.

Colonialism dealt Africa a further blow after people were deprived of their lands and forced to work for the colonialists. Africa's resources were shipped abroad to build the economies of the colonising states. Africa has been wronged beyond words.

President Akufo-Addo is not the first person to demand reparations over slavery. Last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa urged the United Nations to prioritise reparations for communities whose forebearers were sold into slavery.

But that has not been forthcoming. The West would want us to forget the injustices committed against the continent. Indeed, it rubs salt into our wounds by failing to show even a modicum of remorse by returning the remains of our freedom fighters such as Koitalel arap Samoei whose skull is believed to held in a museum in London. What a shame.

It is only fair that beneficiaries of slave trade and colonialism pay for these odious crimes that are partly to blame for Africa's underdevelopment.