Accra, Ghana – A pivotal pan-African conference focusing on reparations for colonial injustices and slavery commenced on Tuesday in the capital city of Ghana. The Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, emphasised the broader significance of reparations beyond financial compensation in her address to the gathering.
Nsanzabaganwa stated, “Reparations are more than merely financial transactions; they are a moral and ethical obligation. They represent our acknowledgment of past wrongs and, more importantly, the resolve to make amends. It is a tangible step towards justice, equality, and healing for those who have suffered and continue to suffer the consequences of historical injustices.”
Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, a prominent advocate for reparations, expressed the overdue nature of the push for restitution. He emphasised, “It is time for Africa, 20 million of whose sons and daughters had their freedoms curtailed and sent into slavery, to receive reparations. No amount of money can restore the damage caused by the transatlantic slave trade and its consequences, but surely this is a matter that the world must confront and can no longer ignore. The entire continent of Africa deserves a formal apology from the European nations involved in the slave trade.”
Reparations have been a longstanding demand in Africa, with South Africa hosting the Global African Diaspora Summit in 2012. British MP Bell Ribeiro Addy stressed the importance of allowing affected nations to dictate the terms of reparations, stating, “The injustice must stop now, and that means reparations must be carried out on the terms of those who are most impacted.”
The ongoing conference includes the inaugural African Committee of Experts on Reparations, tasked with developing a Common African Position on Reparations and formulating an African Reparatory Programme of Action.
Jasmine Mickens from the Open Society Foundation urged delegates to present a unified front for tangible results. She stated, “We are not here to speak and share words of inspiration, but we lead with collective action, and we take seriously what this movement requires to be sustained, and I am even more excited about what we will do in the days to come.”
Delegates at the conference will explore legal and moral grounds for reparations, examine various models of reparatory justice, and develop an action plan for a sustainable reparatory justice process in Africa.
The conference, attended by the chairperson of the African Union, AU commissioners, African government representatives, and members of the African diaspora, aims to address injustices spanning the slave trade, segregation, colonialism, apartheid, neo-colonialism, and neo-liberalism. It follows the recent endorsement by the African Union of a push for reparations to Africans and people of African descent for historic injustices.