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Diaspora and Development, 200 Anniversary of Abolition Act
By Dr. Daniel T. Osabu-Kle

Your Excellency, moderator, invited guests, members of the Kilimanjaro Students Association, students, ladies and gentlemen. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war. Those who are for war know themselves and why. My book, Compatible Cultural Democracy: The Key to Development in Africa which argued and explained that democracy is nothing new to Africa being part of its indigenous culture was the source of much discussion. An article I wrote in the Jounal of Black Studies, “The African Reparation Cry”, which estimated the amount of reparation to be at least US100 trillion dollars and called for its payment to provide Africa and its Diaspora with the resources necessary for development was not comfortable to those nations with guilty mind. Why do I as a member of the Diaspora care so much? It is because the Atlantic Ocean does not have the power to convert an African into an Amerindian or a European. This must be the guiding principle of the Diaspora! We are all Africans even if we deny so!

Historically the contribution of the Diaspora to development in the political ideological, economic and cultural spheres have been spectacular. Included among the many are Edward Blyden, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Dr. W.E.B DuBois, George Padmore, Walter Rodney, Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. The contributions of these personalities are available on the internet and those interested may easily access them. Surely they had their personal differences and different methods of approach, but their common spirit of Pan-Africanism resulted in the independence, though not decolonization, of countries in Africa and the Caribbean. The present generation of Diaspora owes them the duty of continuing the struggle to decolonize Africa and the Caribbean through the breaking down of the inherited colonial structures that perpetuate neo-colonialism and replacing them with structures oriented to the developmental aspirations of our people. More recently Oprah Winfrey has made a difference and set a good example by establishing a school for girls in South Africa. That was a step in the right direct worth emulation.

Today when the 200 anniversary of the nominal abolition of slavery is being celebrated, I seize the opportunity to emphasize that the abolition of slavery is a total myth, that the Diaspora can do more to contribute to development by seeking to complete the good works that those before us began concerning the struggle for reparations estimated to be over US$100 trillion, draw attention to positive contributions the Diaspora can still make to development, and also explain the effects of the brain drain.

Out of nothing, God created the universe. Unfortunately we, being human cannot do that. We need resources for our accomplishments. In the invasions of Africa during the slave trade and colonialism, gold, silver, diamonds, other precious materials and human resources were, plundered, looted and stolen to make others rich and Africa and its Diaspora poor. Africa and its Diaspora still need those resources for development.

The Slave Trade and Slavery Have not Been Abolished Yet


Contrary to popular belief, and the celebration of 200 years of abolition, the slave trade and slavery were only abolished on paper but, in reality, have not been abolished. Many may be shocked to hear this from me, but I can explain why the abolition is a myth at best. The slave trade and slavery both created income generating wealth with a multiplying effect for the nations and institutions that legalized and participated in it. The works of Fage, Ivor Wilks, Paul Lovejoy, and Eric Wolf all identify certain countries in Western Europe, the United States and Muslim Arabs as those who enslaved Africans through the captive form of slavery.

The identified nations of Western Europe include the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Danes, the Swedes, the French and the British. Since the so called abolition of the slave trade and slavery, the slave masters who benefited from that crime against humanity have rather been given reparations for losing their slaves, but Africa and its Diaspora who suffered and continue to suffer from the consequences have received nothing. In a twist of justice, the same nations of Europe and America that emphasize the rule of law all over the globe today granted reparations to the slave masters for losing their slaves, but nothing to the manumitted slaves. The British Parliament proudly insulted justice by approving reparation of 20 million pounds to slave owners already rich through the labour of the manumitted slaves.

Other European powers that legalized slavery emulated the British example. France, Denmark, and the Netherlands paid reparation to the slave masters, but nothing to the manumitted slaves, and United States government refused to honour its meagre promise of “40 acres of land and a mule” to the manumitted slaves. Africa, the manumitted slaves and their descendants who suffered and continue to suffer have received practically nothing. So far, the calls by people of African descent for reparations have fallen upon deaf ears. Celebrating 200 years of abolition of slavery therefore means celebrating 200 years of denying Africa and its Diaspora both apology and reparations. I emphasize that an apology is not reparation though it may precede it. Africans do not eat apologies!

Generations of those who benefited continue to benefit while generations of Africa and its Diaspora continue to suffer from the consequences of that crime against humanity. The time is ripe for the Diaspora to ask the question, “abolition for whose advantage?” and rise up to fight for its right by demanding reparations under the framework of international law and the evidence of case law that buttresses it.

One of the most effective ways of commencing the investigation of a crime is seeking to answer the question “who benefits from the crime?” By continuing to benefit from the crime against humanity, the present generations of those countries that legalized the crime indirectly continue to participate in the slave trade and slavery while Africa and its Diaspora continue to be the captives and the slaves. The ancient fetters were visible; the modern fetters are invisible. The ancient methods were observable; the modern methods are subtle. Here lies the difference, but the results are the same: one enjoys wealth and honour; the other suffers poverty and humiliation.

Reparation is the only means of atoning for the wrongs of the past and breaking this virtuous cycle so that the perpetrators free themselves from guilt, but that is precisely what the perpetrators continue to refuse to do. Until an adequate amount of reparation is paid to enable Africa and its Diaspora to build income generating wealth and catch up with those who continue to benefit, the invisible fetters will continue to exist and the slave trade and slavery cannot be said to have been really abolished. Those who continue to benefit are as guilty as those who were directly involved centuries ago. It is not fair for them to inherit the benefits, but refuse to inherit the crime. If they accept the benefits, they must also accept the crime.....







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