Don’t Forget Africans In French Caribbean
A France-based Ghanaian academic says any Pan-African programme to commemorate the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade will not be complete without the involvement of Africans in the French Antilles.
The year 2019 marks 400 years of the historical documentation of enslaved people of African descent. It is 400 years since the first ship with enslaved Africans landed on the shores of the United States of America and Ghana has launched a programme dubbed 'Year of Return' to mobilise the entire Black race to mark the year. The year-long monthly programme of activities was launched last September at the American Press Club in Washington DC
Speaking in an interview in Accra, however, Dr. Jamila Hamidu, a lecturer at the University of Bordeaux, France, said the Black race should not forget that the Atlantic Slave Trade was not a linear affair between English speaking West Africa and English speaking New World.
“Quite a lot of slaves were taken from the shores of the Gold Coast, namely Elmina and Cape Coast, as well as parts of the north, particularly Salaga, into countries collectively referred to as French Antilles or French Caribbean, including Martinique and Guadeloupe,” she said, adding that “there can, therefore, be no talk of Year of Return without reference the rest of the African family dispersed to other regions of the world by slavery.”
Dr. Hamidu is also the events coordinator and policy analyst of the African Diaspora Linkages Programme.
Sharing her experiences that confirm the ancestry of the Africans in the Antilles, Dr. Hamidu mentioned names, social and religious practices in places like Martinique, and said, “Many Africans would be surprised to know that in those French Caribbean countries, there are names such as Quartey and other Ghanaian names.
Referring to the 'Door of No Return' created in the slave dungeons at Elmina, Cape Coast and Keta, Dr. Hamidu revealed that “from now on, the door is opened. We should go beyond these cleavages – Anglophone, Francophone, Lusophone, – and return home. Let us bridge the gap; after all, Africa is a continent of empires that were once mighty -the Ashanti, Songhay and Mali empires.”
She hinted that her group would “take our case to the Africa Union, ECOWAS, among others. I think the Year of Return has given us the opportunity to widen our net and go into places that we've not been before.”