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02.09.2004 General News

Slave Trade remains burden of Black Race - Prof.

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Accra, Sept. 2, GNA - Emeritus Professor of History, J.F. Ade Ajayi on Wednesday said, Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade "bred a kind of racism that the world had never known and it remains till today the burden of all black peoples whether in Africa or in the Diaspora."

The slave trade was no trade, but a form of exchange that was so un-equal as to be tantamount to worse than robbery.

Emeritus Professor Ade Ajayi, who was speaking at the ongoing International Conference on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Accra, quoted a famous Nigeria writer who wrote: "That there is a spiritual dimension to the problem and that 'my child is dead is infinitely more bearable than my child is missing.'"

He explained: "When a child dies, we conduct rites; bury the child and account to the ancestors. When millions of our children were missing and we tried to avoid the subject no rites are performed and the ghosts continue to haunt us. We need special purification rites if we are to be able to move forward."

Emeritus Prof. Ade Ajayi, whose topic was: "Remembering the Slave Trade", said: "Let those who think that the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade is only one of many history of slavery and slave trade in the world be informed that it was unique and unlike any other.

"It was the only one where, because of the operation of capital and competition, the slave was denuded of all humanity. Horses or dogs would not be allowed to be packed today as the slaves were packed" on the journey from Africa to the Americas and Caribbean.

"Slaves were treated purely as cargo for insurance purposes.

Slaves were not allowed to educate themselves. They were not allowed to own any property. Ransom or manumission was rare. Even their children belonged to their masters and not themselves. Families and ethnic groups were deliberately split apart to limit the possibility of conspiracy and insurrection..."

He said: "Its most important characteristic was that this peculiar form of slavery was reserved for Black peoples alone from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. With the result that slavery became synonymous with Black peoples and Black peoples with slavery." On the teaching of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in schools, Emeritus Prof. Ade Ajayi said there should be no compromise as to how the subject should be handled without telling the truth.

He said the holocaust of the Jews; horror of the world wars were historical facts, which had been told without endangering anyone and called on the Conference not to have any compromise as to how the story was told and to whom.

Participants at the Conference were divided on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade could be taught in the curriculum of both the White and the Black children without offending the sensibilities of any of them.

The conference was worried as to how the emotionalism of both the Black and the White on the role each played in the trade could be told truthfully either by a Black or White teacher to both Black and White students in the same class.

Some contributors said Black Americans accused Africans for selling their ancestors into slavery and charged the Whites for dehumanising them after witnessing the legacies and relics of the enterprise.

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