Tuesday, June 18

There is no question that the Transatlantic Slave saga inflicted appalling atrocities. The scale of dehumanization, cruelty, and generational harm imposed through the trade was unprecedented. Justice calls for reparations. 

Reparations aim to make amends for historical wrongs by providing victims material compensation and formal apologies. Such moral repayment can come from various entities. Corporations that benefited, institutions that upheld racist systems or countries that orchestrated policies rooted in grave injustice.

Arguments Against Monetary Reparations

Securing such compensation from responsible parties proves vital. And yet, Africa has a legitimate distrust, given outrageous misappropriations. The continent has already lost billions in development funds to mismanagement and corrupt political elites. Over recent decades, Africa has drained over $800 billion into foreign banks (World Bank, 2020).

Why do we need reparations? When our Godfathers and Narcoqueens, aka politicians, are waiting to build castles in their bellies with reparations.

Addressing Counterarguments

It is evident that hosts of privileged descendants of the colonial superpowers vehemently oppose reparations. But they are quick to make ignorant statements such as – “The European slave trade was abhorrent, but it was not unique.”

All of you need to shush about the nonsense you keep peddling about how the Transatlantic Slave Trade was not unique. When you came to Africa, did you see elaborate slave forts like the ones you built from Elmina to Senegal?

Pre-empting Claims About “African Slavery”

Listen! European slavery was fundamentally dehumanizing in ways African systems of servitude were not. Your routine atrocities, family severance, erasure of identity and commodification of humans purely as capital was the peak of barbarism. The Transatlantic Slave Trade and colonialism were not just ordinary forms of looting. Instead, it was a systematic and brutal form of oppression. The oppression resulted in the death, displacement, and dehumanization of millions of Africans every day for 400 years.

Accountability

But enough of always blaming the whiteman. Africa needs to dig deep to solve its fundamental challenges.

Let us begin to develop a new generation of leaders who are thinkers beyond the size of their bellies.

Darwin’s Theory – Survival of the Fittest

Reparations are not guaranteed; more importantly, they come across as beggarly. Life is a game we were beaten at by the Europeans. Let’s admit it, pick up the pieces and reorganize.

Reparations will not fully address the socioeconomic gap linked to exploitation. Even if we receive reparations, the root causes of the current challenges will not disappear.

There are only two forms of reparations we should fight for:

  1. Debt cancellation that we owe to the former slave-trading colonial powers. As well as to the international financial institutions that are dominated by them. These institutions are legitimized fraud systems to fund their lust for wealth.
  2. Return Nigeria’s stolen Benin bronzes – those exquisite sculptures ransacked by British troops in 1897, now languishing overseas without cultural context. Also, relinquish still-captive relics like imperial Ethiopian crowns and manuscripts looted at the Fall of Maqdala in 1868. Their worth outweighs any “pity reparations fund”. So let the majesty of Africa’s craft at last sail home.

Do not say I never warned you if you waste time and effort securing reparations. The current crop of greedy leaders will consume everything on luxury Japanese vehicles and cheap Chinese escorts.

To the next generation

Yet, not all hope is lost when we harness the energy and talents of empowered youth. Let’s use our talents, skills, and creativity to create value and opportunities for our country and continent. We should learn from our history and say never again. We forgive but shall never forget. Actual change starts from within.

Africa does not exist in isolation. Our growth requires collaboration with anyone who wishes Africa well, especially Europe. The past need not define the future when heart and will align towards common upliftment. I will leave you with this proverb from the Ga people of Ghana, which carries timeless wisdom.

K3ji onufu ekó bo dañ l3, k3ji ona titiamóótoi l3 ojoó foi.” Which translates,

When you have been bitten by a snake, you are cautious even when you see an earthworm.”

What do you think?

  1. If Africa were to receive billions in slavery reparations, who specifically would manage and distribute those immense sums justly? Can current governance structures enact financial justice?
  2. Beyond direct payments, what alternative “reparation” policies could significantly impact ordinary citizens’ welfare and opportunities?
  3. Would returning historically looted African artefacts to origin countries carry meaningful symbolic value? Or will they simply sit in new museums unseen by most?
  4. If debt relief formed a crucial part of reparations, enabling economic sovereignty, which specific international debts should be prioritized for cancellation first and why?
  5. The writer doubts even large reparation sums can “fix” deeper cultural mindsets. What evidence exists on both sides judging the impact of direct atonement measures?
  6. Are proposals that limit strict financial reparations in scope defeatist? Or prudent, given likely implementation barriers and unintended outcomes in fractured policy environments?
  7. What responsibility does the present generation have to seek conciliatory damages as compensation for past misdeeds they took no part in initially? Where does liability start and end through time?

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