A cultural performance which featured artistes from Ghana, the United Kingdom and the Diaspora to reflect the experience of the slave trade was staged at the Elmina Castle on Sunday evening to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade.
The event, organised jointly by the British Council and the [email protected] Secretariat, also provided a platform for the artistes to tell the story of the abolitionist movement, the struggle and emancipation of slaves and in the process underscore the need to forge a new partnership in the emerging globalised world.
In an address to mark the occasion, President J.A. Kufuor said the strongest weapon to use to fight against any traces of slavery and enslavement in the world today was the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.
He, therefore, underscored the need for the world to uphold that UN declaration, which enshrined the essence of the human being in all social and cultural arrangements.
The President said celebration of the promulgation of the Abolition of Slave Trade Act could not be altogether wholesome, since the more basic problems of slavery and enslavement continued to be prevalent all over the world.
President Kufuor contended that payment of reparation, as was being suggested by others, would be difficult and complex, given the fact that Africans actively participated in the slave trade and, therefore, were partly responsible for the inhuman practice.
The way forward, in the view of the President, was for countries which benefited from the slave trade to show remorse and accord the victims and their successors their full human rights.
The launch of the Joseph Project by the government, the President said, was a gesture of atonement to Africans in the Diaspora who became victims of the slave trade.
In a recorded message played to mark the occasion, the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, said the promulgation of the Slave Trade Act marked a turning point in the relationship between the United Kingdom and Africa.
He underlined the need for the UK and Africa to fight against any practices which debased humanity and forge new partnerships with the same zeal and energy which culminated in the abolition of the slave trade.
The Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Privy Council, Baroness Valerie Amos, said the celebration of the anniversary should challenge today's generations to fight against all traces of racism, discrimination and underdevelopment.
She underscored the need to build a better world which would make “our ancestors justifiably proud”.
The Paramount Chief of the Edina Traditional Area, Nana Kodwo Conduah Vl, said the celebration should give people the opportunity to reflect on the past and make plans for now and the future.
Story by Joe Okyere
& Nehemia Owusu Achiaw