Western countries that were involved in the slave trade should pay reparations to African countries for the crimes of slavery and colonialism, according to experts.
“Africa will never reconcile with the West on the issue of slavery until we receive an official apology from slave buying Western nations, and a fair compensation paid to Africa,” Mustafa Mheta, a senior research fellow and head of the Africa Desk at the Johannesburg-based Media Review Network think tank, said,
Experts made comments to a Turkish news agency during the anniversary of former US President Abraham Lincoln’s decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery on Jan. 1, 1863.
“Nations that perpetrated slavery, are still reaping the benefit of slavery to this day,” said Mheta, referring to wealthy nations where slaves worked on plantations, factories and construction sites.
Millions were taken from the continent to work in the 17th to mid-19th centuries across four main routes: Indian Ocean ports, the Sahara, Red Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Many died while in transport to Europe and the US but their nations have never been compensated.
Slavery was so damaging to Africa
“To be honest, slavery was single-handedly the most damaging thing on Africans,” said Mheta. “There is nothing positive that came with it except the psychological damage that it did on the African mind.”
“The African was humiliated to the core. Slavery convinced the African that he was not worthy of anything and that he was not human enough like other races,” he said. “Up to this day, the African is still suffering from that. He has not recovered from it.”
Saber Ahmed Jazbhay, a leading South African lawyer and political commentator, praised Lincoln’s “radical” decision to end slavery.
“He abolished slavery and the liberated Africans were given the option of returning to Africa, particularly Liberia, meaning freedom was established in West Africa,” he told Anadolu Agency.
Jazbhay, agrees that former slave buying countries should compensate Africa for the decades of suffering and dehumanization inflicted on African people.
“You can’t have reconciliation without economic justice,” he said.
Jazbhay said Africans lost human resources, wealth and many people were killed, while citing German atrocities in Namibia during the start of the 20th century and crimes committed by Belgium in the Congo, among others.
Last year, Germany officially acknowledged it committed “genocide” against the Herero and Nama people at the start of the 20th century in what is today’s Namibia.