The President of the Democratic Republic of Suriname, His Excellency Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan, has pledged to build closer ties between his country, Ghana, and the rest of Africa.
According to him, Suriname and Ghana had identifiable cultural and socio-economic traits, which could be explored by both countries for their common benefits.
The President, who was in the country to participate in the 5th African-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) Summit, made the pledge, when he paid a courtesy call on the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi.
He noted that the two countries had a rich historical relationship, dating back to the pre-colonial era, when a lot of African indigenes, most of them from Ghana, were transported to the Caribbean Islands and other parts of the world, to work as slaves.
Ironically, citizens of Suriname bear names like Osei, Abena and Adansi, which are similar to that of the Ashantis.
President Venetiahn said he seized the opportunity to pay homage to the King of the Asante Kingdom, as a gesture of his appreciation towards the role Ghanaians, particularly, Ashantis, played in the struggle, during the era of slave trade, and their contributions towards the building of the State of Suriname.
Tracing further down memory lane, the President of Suriname recounted how African brothers and sisters were cruelly maltreated by the Dutch, and their contributions to the fieldworks and the plantation businesses of the colonial masters.
He said African slaves did not only come to the Caribbean Islands to serve their masters in the fields, but also fought hard to defend their rights and survival as slaves, adding their vision, strength and character, led to the eventual emancipation and the sovereignty of Suriname.
He stated that even though Suriname was now made up of a large spectrum of people, including Lebanese, Asians, Europeans and indigenes from Africa, the success of its economy, largely depended on the contributions made by the Africans.
President Venetiaan said in line with this development, he felt the need to initiate moves to unite African indigenes in his country, including Ghanaians, with the rest of Africa, and bring them under one umbrella, so that a lot of business opportunities could be explored for mutual benefits.
The Asantehene, in a speech through his Adontenhene, said Ashantis, throughout history, had always upheld the tenets of freedom and justice, and resisted the malicious and cruel rule of the Europeans.
He said it was welcome news for Ashantis and Ghanaians in general, that “our brothers and sisters in the diaspora have realised the need to research into their backgrounds and trace their roots of origins.”
The Asantehene, therefore, expressed the optimism that the visit of the Surinamese President would be the beginning of a stronger and better relationship between the two countries.
Otumfuo, however, commended His Excellency Venetiaan, for struggling hard to ensure the establishment of democracy in his country, in the face of stiff opposition.
The Asantehene presented a piece of kente cloth, as a symbol of the beginning of a smooth relationship between Suriname and the Asante Kingdom.
The Surinamese President was accompanied by his wife, Mrs.Vanenburg Liesbath Anita Maria, his Foreign Minister, Hon. Lydia L. A. Crag, and a host of government functionaries. The Deputy Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Osei Assibey Antwi, led the delegation to the Asantehene.