07.07.2006 Politics

Let's Bridge Divide Between Masters And Slaves - President Kufuor

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President John Agyekum Kufuor has raised concern about the injustices and enslavement, which continue to dominate the political socio-cultural and economic lives of nations across the world.

"To this day, slavery and enslavement remain insinuated in human affairs everywhere. Its chameleon-like nature has mutated into all forms of discrimination and exclusion and indeed underlines much of the misconceptions and prejudices bedevilling the world".

President Kufuor, therefore, called for open-mindedness and sustained moral drive to bridge what he termed "the ancient divide between the masters and slaves".

He was speaking at the opening of the Wilberforce Institute of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE), an inter-disciplinary Institute created by the Hull University to research into the history of slavery and emancipation.

Mr John Prescott, Deputy British Prime Minister and Baroness Amos, Leader of the British House of Lords, were among high profile personalities present.

The Institute has been named in memory of Hull-born Sir William Wilberforce, who together with others convinced the British Parliament to outlaw the slave trade in Britain.

President Kufuor cautioned that the nature of resistance to the eradication of enslavement and the promotion of emancipation should not be underrated.

"Indeed considering the unpredictability of the international markets of such basic commodities as crude oil and its impact on the fragile economies of African nations and also the resistance of the rich nations to make realistic adjustments to accommodate the poor nations within the World Trade Organisation, there is still a long way to overcome the challenges".

He said it was on the basis of this that the world should encourage and support institutions like WISE, whose goal was to help to enhance awareness of people and societies about the dangers of intolerance and exclusion in order to free the world of all forms of prejudices.

President Kufuor took his audience down the memory-lane of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, which has been described as "The darkest era of the history of humanity" and said Africa had been awakened to appreciate the horrendous effects the Trade had on it.

"Africans colluded and actively co-operated with European Slavers to sell into slavery much of its virile youth whose intellect, muscle and personality should have contributed to building its nations, economies and dignity".

He said the refreshing news, however, was that there was now the advent of a new leadership that was making serious dent against enslavement of its own citizens, through good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights.

It is estimated that about 15 million blacks were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas during the Slave Trade.

President Kufuor announced that Ghana's celebration of golden Jubilee of independence next year, would be marked by a "Project which seeks to reconnect the country with the sons and daughters of Africa in the Diaspora".

Mr Prescott praised President Kufuor for his good leadership that had made Ghana become the bright corner of Africa.

Ghana's successful story of political stability, democracy, good governance and economic growth, he said, symbolised hope for Africa.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the celebration of the 200 anniversary of the abolition of the Slave Trade next year would not be just for the mere purpose of history, but the future.

He said it was important to remember that after the abolition of slavery centuries ago, social injustices and human bondage remained major international issues.

Professor David J. Drewry, Vice Chancellor of the Hull University, said telling all the truth about the Slave Trade, could be the best form of reparation.

He said it was for this reason that the issue of slavery must be put on the global political agenda.
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