Is it time for Africa to apologise over Slavery?

_46715438_slavery226getty[1]Stand up and admit your ancestors played a crucial part in the trade of 11 million human beings from Africa. This is what Nigeria’s Civil Rights Congress is suggesting.
In an interview with BBC World Service The World Today programme, the Head of the Congress Shehu Sani said:
“We want to set the record straight and correct the distortion of history and to close this chapter.”
He also said that: “African governments cannot apologise because it wasn’t the governments that were involved, it was the traditional institutions that were involved.”

When I looked around for more blogs and news stories on this I didn’t come across much which surprised me because there are so many posts about the United States and Britain apologising over their role  in the slave trade. Why isn’t this an issue in Africa?

52 Responses to “Is it time for Africa to apologise over Slavery?”

  1. 1 Colin Sundaram
    November 12, 2009 at 13:02

    12. 11. 09

    Not once. Ten thousand times. Have the Africans stopped exploiting their brethren yet? The slave trade is no more a profitable business because nobody buys slaves any more otherwise the African elite would still indulge in it for sure. What do they do today to each other across the borders and what was happening in the Central African State a year ago? I can’t remember his name somebody called Enkunda I believe was the mastermind behind the massacre there after Tailor’s reign of terror. Today he is living the life of an African King as a guest of another country!

  2. 2 Ronald Almeida
    November 12, 2009 at 13:18

    Apologies can’t be swallowed and serve no purpose, better put it into some action if they are really sorry.

  3. 3 gary
    November 12, 2009 at 13:45

    I must agree whole-heartedly with Colin & Ronald. The destructive exploitation of Africa’s people and resources would have been and would still be impossible without substantial inside connivance. Apologies are useless. What are needed are crack investigative teams of unwaivering forensic accountants, followed up by aggressive prosecution and long incarceration for the offenders.

  4. 4 Roberto
    November 12, 2009 at 14:03

    RE “” Why isn’t this an issue in Africa? “”

    ———– Same reason it ain’t an issue in the US. Most people are ignorant to black on black slave trade history or ignore it.

    Apologies are for sociopathic politicians who have no solutions to current egregious outrages and need to solicit some sympathy by misdirecting blame from put upon voters. It’s typical that Nigeria governmental bodies have nothing better to do than talk about the past when the present and the future are pounding on the doors of the government demanding attention.

  5. 5 Jennifer
    November 12, 2009 at 14:37

    Re: When I looked around for more blogs and news stories on this I didn’t come across much which surprised me because there are so many posts about the United States and Britain apologising over their role in the slave trade. Why isn’t this an issue in Africa?

    This is interesting. I think not much was found because it’s ideal to continue to make others feel obligated to apologize not just with words but deeds how “sorry they are”. What I really think is that it’s time for the race issue to be totally set aside and noone use it as a card. That is, however, wishful thinking.

    • 6 A.Z.Utilitarian
      November 16, 2009 at 07:59

      You go girl! I Wasn’t there, didn’t do it either. Time to move on….and isn’t there still even today in 2009 a slave trade in the Sudan?

    November 12, 2009 at 15:16

    I am not on this blog to praise the westerners for this heinous crime visited on humanity and indeed they are guilty as charged. Nevertheless, we owe our gratitude to those dissenting voices among them who voiced true human reason without fear of being confined to the periphery of the mainstream society of the time; who initiated a sustained and vehement campaign that was not lost to the ears of their wise leadership thereby bringing this barbarism to an end. They regained their pride through liberating their mind even if you call it damage control. It gives us pride to see free African Americans and Europeans who live freely there as free citizen. These people are not Africans now though we have ancestral ties with them. They have become citizens of those countries.

    November 12, 2009 at 15:21

    Westerners were not the only slave owners nor were they the sole guilty party. Others include, the Muslim people from the rich Middle East countries, where there is very little to show that they took millions more millions of African souls, most of who have completely disappeared because most were either castrated or killed. They came earlier than the whites to collect slaves who have vanished into thin air.
    The other guilty party is Africans themselves. Greedy chiefs and their accomplices who sold their neighbors in exchange for beads and salt. These two latter groups have maintained innocence through cover-up of their guilt. They continue denying the burning of villages and killing of the weaklings in exchange of worthless gifts. This is all shameful and it needs to be brought into open. There is nothing to be gained through skewed reasoning at all during this age. It does not pay to maintain falsehoods and misdirecting condemnation. I feel it is the high time to be open and accountable.

  8. 9 pattin in cape coral
    November 12, 2009 at 15:31

    If apologies are backed by action to remedy the damage done, well and good, otherwise they are empty and meaningless.

  9. 10 Tom K in Mpls
    November 12, 2009 at 16:19

    There are so many wrong thing that have been done by every government, race and religion throughout history that apologies and reparations are an absurd waste of our time. It is done, deal with it. We need to move ahead. Understand the past but please quit the PC waste of time.

    • 11 pattin in cape coral
      November 12, 2009 at 18:49

      It is true that most, if not all countries are culpable of some kind of wrong doing, but in this case, if a people can recognize the damage they have done to themselves, maybe that is a good step toward changing things and moving ahead. Afterall, if you have the power to damage yourself, you can have the power to heal yourself too.

  10. 12 Dinka Aliap Chawul,Kampala-Uganda
    November 12, 2009 at 16:43

    This what i have been waiting for years,Africans realm & the Arabs(the founders) especially Busaid & Oman needs to apologize to the world for their wrong did in establishing Slave Trade in the continent of Africa,.

    African Kingdoms,Arabs & Whites or Europeans participates equally on the trade & more-so there must be trio-apology from them,

  11. 13 John Smith - Jamaica
    November 12, 2009 at 16:46

    Let me get to the point…I am a black man living in the Caribbean and I was never a slave. Those of my forefathers (and mothers) who suffered under the cruel conditions have long since passed and are in a better place. I don’t need anyone to apologise to me. Those responsible are long since dead and while the spoils of their deeds may still exist today, I have no more right than anyone else to enjoy them.
    We need to get over ourselves. This drive for apology and repatriation is the Achilles heel of the black race. Do you hear the Israelis clamouring for forgiveness from the Egyptians for wrongful deeds during biblical times? Do we hear persons denying the atrocities which took place during slavery and the ethnic cleansing of Jews by Hitler? We have already accepted that slavery was a great injustice, now it is time to move on. We cannot continue to blame occurrences over a century old for our lack of will as a people. Rise up and stop playing the self pity card.

  12. 15 Gregory Prill of Canada
    November 12, 2009 at 17:00

    Anyone who needs to apologise for slavery is long dead. in fact, many of the nations involved have changed or even disappeared. the idea that anyone must apologise for slavery today is absurd, and anyone who does so is trying to make a sympathetic character out of themselves for political gain, plain and simple.

    • 16 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala
      November 13, 2009 at 10:51


      I dont think the nations or the people who carried out such a business shouldn’t apologies because there are no immediate people who did it, moreover we must acknowledge that Slavery did takes place & its related appalling consequences on the continent of Africa.

      I’ve learns much about this trade,its founders,agents,victims,beneficiaries & they customers.

  13. 17 Elias
    November 12, 2009 at 17:10

    The United States and Britain encouraged the trade in slavery for one reason alone ‘ MONEY’, it was highly profitable for the Britsh traders to supply a need to Americans in the Southern States for cheap labour in their agricultural and other needs. Its the same old story of greed regardless of the human sufferings of the africans forcefully kidnapped and transported to the United States. Shehu Sani the head of the Nigerian Civil Congress should serve Nigeria better by directing his position to get rid of corruption within Nigeria and diverting resources to the poor and needy people of Nigeria.

  14. 18 Anthony
    November 12, 2009 at 17:13

    Because we are the ultimate scape goat, and blacks have gotten used to using us that way.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  15. 19 John in Salem
    November 12, 2009 at 17:58

    Apologies aren’t an issue in Africa because words are not what Africa needs.

    November 12, 2009 at 18:04

    I think a few have got my point wrong since I am not here for self pitty nor do I mean that those that are reading this are the guilty party. The past is past and there is no gain to be had in looking back. We only use the past to gain useful information that may steer us away from past mistakes. I only say this because most ignorant everywhere see themselves as the hallmark of piety even when they have been missused by those who committed crimes. It is not that we are happy to hear about such things — even talk of reparations is useless. All of us feel uaneasy judging from the reactions but as some have wisely pointed out, it is the high time to make good use of the present moment without using fake and uncalled for misrepresentation of facts. Finally, time will always honor those that can see clearly through artificial farbrication of events.

  17. November 12, 2009 at 18:09

    @ARTHUR NJUGUNA I believe you ment ‘Arab’ instead of ‘muslim’ because those who engaged in slave trade especially in east africa were Arabs who happened to be muslims. Arabs only account only for 25 percent of the muslim population. The reason there is no trace of the slaves is because most were intergrated into muslim society by intermarried. As you travel throughout the middle east especialy in Oman and Yemen you will find arabs of dark skin who are decendants of african slaves. Its worth pointing out that when you talk about the west, you dont refer them to Christians from the rich west. Your Prejudice realy lowers your argument to vitriolic

      November 12, 2009 at 18:45

      Thank you for the feed back; talking is better than silence. Forgive me where I am wrong. I was just making a mental note because time really has flown and our intelect cannot be relied. It is true I should not include the Afghans,Iraqis, the Turks, Indonesians, Irianians and the like.

      Remember this?

      ‘The people yes!
      And damn some of them recruit
      All the others’

      Enough of that of that.

  18. 25 jens
    November 12, 2009 at 18:10

    i am getting tired of this never ending trail of demanding and apologizing for the past. maybe the british shold ask for an apoligy from denmark for the vikings, etc etc. yes the slave trade was as bad as bad can get, but what does another apology do? and to who should the african nations now apologize, the african community in the new world, the villages and communities from which the people were taken. stop riding this never ending guilt-trip train. nobody can take it back or change it.


  19. November 12, 2009 at 18:26

    As an african i dont think the west and arabs should apologise for their inhumanity against our fore fathers. I think africans deserve more than a lame apology. Not doing anything is in itself racist. A goom example is the jews. They got a state of their own state and green light to kill as many arab children and women as they can. Why is this so? Because they are W-H-I-T-E !! So instead of uniting and working for our collective interest, we kill each other and make the west (and now china) even richer. PS: my respect to those whites who championed the emancipation of slaves. Your rewards are in a better place.

  20. November 12, 2009 at 18:29

    Substitute ‘goom’ for ‘good’

  21. 28 ernesto
    November 12, 2009 at 19:06

    Apologizing as an exercise of self-reflexion and move on!

    November 12, 2009 at 19:17

    I wholeheardly welcome all the positive cooperation that we get from the mordern Saudi Arabia plus hordes of happy go lucky of our business men and women in Emirate. This is significantly enough for me to be happy. I am not anti Islam; I am only against evil it does not matter by whom; Christians, Jews etc and there is no good trying to grolify it. Any amends are welcome everywhere. For far too long we only hear only one side of a story which needs balancing. Our mental tool is poor but if we keep this digging thing with it we might strike gold all of us and it won’t matter whether I am a Gipsy or not. TRUE!
    It was a vitrioric week for me, but it can’t last long my dear. Don’t worry about it.

  23. 30 Tom D Ford
    November 12, 2009 at 19:20

    I think it is a good idea to acknowledge it and apologize in some general sense.

  24. 31 Josiah Soap
    November 12, 2009 at 20:19

    Africa should not apologize for its role in slavery, but neither should US or Britain. The people who owned, captured or sold slaves are long dead. How can someone else apologize for others. People had different ideals and morals when slavery existed. We can however acknowledge that slavery is not acceptable today. I applaud Nigeria’s Civil rights congress for at least admitting that African’s were partly responsible. I wouldn’t hold out too much hope that this will be taught in western countries. The PC crowd want us to harbor guilt, and it never would do to tell the truth that other black people were enslaving their neighbors. This would totally go against their left wing PC indoctrination program.

  25. 32 Kindi Jallow
    November 12, 2009 at 22:52

    Although those who captured and sold slaves are long dead but the institutions responsible ‘like a going concern’ still exist. I our society there are norms and values obsersed. If you hurt soneone or commit wrongful acts, how much does it takes you just to say I am very sorry? To err is human but to forgive is divine. For that matter all those involved in acts slavery should repent as good Christians or Muslims. It is a way of reconciliation and looking foreword for a positive future.

  26. 33 Phyllis , Naples Florida
    November 12, 2009 at 23:21

    Wonderful and thought provoking.

    Often discussed in hushed tones.

    It is time to open this Pandora’s box.

  27. 34 Alexie Wynne
    November 13, 2009 at 02:34

    I’m from the Caribbean and an apology from Africa is not important to me. In fact I would like to thank those Africans who sold my ancestors into slavery. Though I know they suffered immensely, today I live in land that is peaceful and free of wars where my rights are respected and human life if valued.

  28. 35 Crispo, Kampala-Uganda.
    November 13, 2009 at 09:02

    Is it Africa apologizing or Britain and the USA? I’m taken aback when I hear such a question. Its an errant suggestion, and hasten to add be weary lest arouse the anger of moderates. So, on what grounds do we think Mother Africa should apologise? Have all the perpetrators of this heinous crime confessed their ills ,in hitherto ‘time honoured fashion’, as is the case? May be Arthur has a better understanding of why we as Africans have to apologise. Is it for availing ourselves to be caught and taken as slaves? Frankly speaking, the author of this question seems to me at least to be courting nothing but danger, outrage by bringing such insinuating topics.

    Can, the perpetrators handle a ‘compensation’ for their avarice? No, donations or support to Africa has even covered aquarter of that cost yet. As African, I feel offended that our tormentors from time memorial should so much lull at us. Its an abuse of our soul.

      November 15, 2009 at 10:01

      @Crispo – Kampala Uganda
      Its not about petty cash or misplaced appologies that I am talking about here. What I am against is the notions that the naivette aura some of us carry is bling. We continue to live in ignorance are unfairly discriminative when we humiliate our ‘criminals’. There are heeps of evils that continue to exist via masked ‘innocent’ academia (very lovely chaps). Take colonialism another thorny issue. There are times that I am forced to go against the grain of ignorant preachings and ask myself, if the roles were reversed and freedom of African people were to be granted by the present crop of African power hungry leaders and clown kings, Would it have ever seen the light of the day? Do not answer me but let it be your food for thought. I agree that the hatchet should be burried but it will be futile if the first steps of liberating the mind still continue to wobble even after half a century.

  29. 37 Crispo, Kampala-Uganda.
    November 13, 2009 at 09:17

    From my previous post, I’ll add that we don’t need the orchestrated apologies. They are sheer concoctions of slandering tongues. Apology or no apology, the issue is closed. Africa needs no apologies or indeed apologise itself. Its like opening a can of worms or opening healed wounds. Let’s bury the hatchet. Period

  30. 38 James Ian
    November 13, 2009 at 11:17

    WOW! You know I didn’t know until recently that Africans sold thier own people. I guess all my life I just took it that we, “white poeple” were just evil and took advantage of the Africans. Now to know after all these years of guilt that African people had culpability in this as well. I don’t know how to feel about that. I’m kind of angry to be honest.

  31. 39 scmehta
    November 13, 2009 at 13:57

    Most of the times, not in too distant a past, the historical traditional institutions of Africa have been victims of circumstances; the era of the Industrial Revolution did not provide any healing touch to the unfortunate continent, already suffering so much due to topographic/climatic as well as exploitative reasons. But, it’s never too late, and they have realized that the time to rise has come.

  32. 40 Slim Felix
    November 13, 2009 at 14:41

    Why should Africa apologize and to who??
    Should we apologize because Europeans fooled our parents into selling their brothers for gin, brandy and pieces of cloth?
    Should Africa Apologize because our brothers who travel to the developed world insearch for better lives are still treated like second class citizens “Slaves” in the western world?

    The truth is Slavery is not over, and the brain drain on Africa is still another form of slavery which the west is still using to exploit Africa.

    • 41 James Ian
      November 14, 2009 at 07:13

      Sounds to me like someone likes being the vicitm and doesnt want that dark chapter to be closed.

      • 42 James Ian
        November 20, 2009 at 07:40

        Africans are treated worse in thier own country by thier own people then any where else in the world. I’m sure that has been the case through out history.

  33. 43 JanB
    November 13, 2009 at 17:18

    I’ve been waiting a long time to hear this coming from Africans themselves, I honestly did not believe it would happen within my lifetime (mind you, I’m only 22.)

    It’s about time people realized Africans themselves were just as much involved with the slave-trade as Europeans and Arabs, and had been before the first white man set foot in their lands.

    Now, I don’t want Africans to indulge in the kind of self loathing Europe has done, but it would be nice if Africans stopped playing the slavery card, Europeans stopped their self loathing and everyone would just agree that all of humanity used to be involved in slavery, that was a long time ago and we can’t hold people who are living today responsible for it (except of course modern slaveholders, most of whom happen to live in Africa btw.)

  34. 44 Hemsley Hunter Caesear
    November 13, 2009 at 21:51

    Mr. Njugunda should be given a high podium to talk to African Muslims who’s sense of reasoning has been distorted by their hypocrite masters, the Arabs. For ages, African Muslims did not know that Arabs were among the worst slave offenders in history of man kind. They paint the west as been infidels and satanists while they hide under the cover of Islam to perpetrate their devilish schemes. It reached a situation whereby people like the devilish Bashir of Sudan is shielded because he is Muslim and any mention of Islamic crimes is seen as anti-islam with shouts of war, destruction and innocents blood is spell, while Milosevic, Taylor and others are made to face justice. As stated, where are the black slaves they collected at least America still shows off it’s own. When will the Arabs ask for forgiveness and tell the truth? When will they also make reparations for the evils them and their forefathers have committed against Africans and also financing the bombing of infrastructure in Argentina?

  35. November 14, 2009 at 13:20

    It takes two to tango. And anyone who knows and experiences that dance is aware that one partner leads the other. Europe sailed to Africa not vice-versa.

  36. 46 Peter from Kenya
    November 14, 2009 at 19:35

    What? Apologise?

    African-Americans should be really thankful that their ancestors were sold of as slaves. They got much better opportunities in America. The ones we should apologise to are the ones who ended up in a place like Haiti.

  37. 47 ....
    November 14, 2009 at 19:49

    Shame, when will you stop talking about it? but it is truth black people are responsible for slave trade too..

  38. 48 anniesha
    November 15, 2009 at 00:56

    are the blacks ever going to give up on this slavery topic? i am sorry to inform them but every race has had their fair share of slavery ,in one aspect or the other . i think that it is time they stop using it for sympathy, for a way to make excuses for their postion in this world. human trafficking is a business now, it is the new word fof slavery .who is going to do the apology there and to whom.

    November 15, 2009 at 10:44

    Yes! we are nice people cris because I have been to discos and churches and I have heard nice things spewing from the mosques, but honestly tell me, while the slave trade existed, which African raised a hand to oppose it? I may be wrong but judging from what I see, there must have been a lot of dissapointment at ending it from the african beneficiaries. Look at corruption, greed for power, and nepotism in Africa – tell me where is that charity from home. Misguided frivolous ethnicity, idle freedom alongside its attendent leadership is what is killing Africa instead of liberating it from all forms of slavery. Has slavery and poverty ended for people dying of basic food in one of the most fertile continents on this earth? We don’t look like people who understand the past but Ironically, everyone thinks that all the world was created in the past and there is nothing more to be created. Africa can recreate itself and thus make its own reparations to itself. That is what I believe.

    November 15, 2009 at 10:58

    As a parting shot, I pay tribute for that hardy minded minority comprised of Moresby, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther and their small clique of like minded followers; they make me continue to believe in God. Who says that a minority cannot carry more weight than the majority? As Henry David Thoreau pointed out, even a single individual can constitute the real majority if he or she is decisive enough to go beyond the shenanigans of the day.

  41. 51 Don Dealga
    November 15, 2009 at 16:05

    Very interesting discussion.
    Unfortunately slavery still exists today…
    What do we think about that?

  42. 52 Keth from Jamaica
    November 15, 2009 at 19:18

    Until recently, I would probably have been indifference to this issue, and would’ve made comments like ‘get over it’ or ‘its absurd to apologize’. The truth is people have been exploiting other people from antiquity and had we (Africans) been more devious, we would have enslaved them (Caucasians and others) first! They just beat us to it.

    An apology is not unnecessary. Some need it to move on psychologically, others to fill a void. Me personally – dont really need it especially since I understand in greater detail the nature of both the Eastern and Western slave trades in Africa. I can find no record (thus far) to suggest that they (the continental Africans) were aware that the Western slave trade was going to be as brutal as it was. WE werent being taken as concubines and child minders….noooo…we were to be field workers and rape victims both men and women. (A little insight on why Jamaica is so diametrically opposed to homosexuality). So I pardon the African’s ignorance – for now.

    Since they have come into the knowledge of the obvious mental anguish we still feel even 4 centuries on, via musicians Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Gargamel and others, some acknowledgment of their involvement is warranted. A tangible gesture such as citizenship for those who want to return (i.e. the Rastafarians) and perhaps the Pan Africanists and Garveyites who are still scattered misfits in the African Diaspora especially those yet-to-be United States of America.

    NB: John Smith email me..Jamaican to Jamaican we need fi talk.

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