UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Reparations must be paid for the slave trade to address the historical injustices that have shaped the world structure, Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said on Wednesday.
It is time to acknowledge openly that much of Europe and the United States have been built from the vast wealth harvested from the sweat, tears, blood and horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the centuries of colonial exploitation, he told the general debate of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly.
It cannot be easy to build confident and prosperous societies from nations that, for centuries, had their natural resources looted and their peoples traded as commodities, he noted.
"We do not seek to shirk any responsibility for the problems we face that are of our own making, and it bears repeating that we are not craving for sympathy, and do not want to be a scar on anybody's conscience," Akufo-Addo said.
"But, we cannot, and the world should not pretend that the present day economic and social conditions of Africa have nothing to do with the historical injustices that have fashioned the structures of the world," he added.
For centuries, the world has been unwilling and unable to confront the realities of the consequences of the slave trade, but gradually this is changing, and it is time to bring the subject of reparations firmly to the fore, said the president.
"Granted that current generations are not the ones that engaged in the slave trade, but that grand inhuman enterprise was state-sponsored and deliberate," he said, noting that the benefits are clearly interwoven with the present-day economic architecture of the nations that designed and executed it.
"Reparations must be paid for the slave trade," Akufo-Addo said to an eruption of applause.
"No amount of money will ever make up for the horrors, but it would make the point that evil was perpetrated, that millions of productive Africans were snatched from the embrace of our continent, and put to work in the Americas and the Caribbean without compensation for their labor," he said.
He also called for the illicit flow of funds from Africa to be returned to the continent.
While the current picture on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals "is not very bright," Akufo-Addo expressed the hope that "it is within our capacity to turn things around."
A good start would be to make the needed changes to the structures of the United Nations, "then we can rebuild trust and reignite global solidarity," he said.