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Friday, August 20, 1999 Published at 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK

World: Africa

Trillions demanded in slavery reparations

Millions were exported from West Africa into slavery in the 1800s (Image: American Antiquarian Society)

The West is being asked to pay Africa $777 thousand billion within five years in reparation for enslaving Africans while colonising the continent.

Co-Chairperson Debra Kofie: We feel the figure is very fair
The African World Reparations and Repatriation Truth Commission, meeting in Accra for its first international conference, also called for all international debt owed by Africa to be "unconditionally cancelled''.

The Accra Declaration issued at the conference says that money will be demanded from ''all those nations of Western Europe and the Americas and institutions, who participated and benefited from the slave trade and colonialism''.

Repatriation and reparation

The conference, co-chaired by Dr Hamet Maulana and Mrs Debra Kofie, announced plans to set up an international team of lawyers from Africa and the diaspora to pursue all legal means to collect the money.

The group will also be contacting the International Court of Justice, as well as the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity for assistance.

Mrs Kofie told the BBC the reparation figure was based on the number of human lives lost to Africa during the slave-trade, as well as an assessment of the worth of the gold, diamonds and other minerals taken from the continent during colonial rule.

She says Africa's turn has come. "We are the only group that have not received reparations. The Jewish people have received reparations. The native Americans have received reparations. The Korean comfort women and so-on and so forth," she said.

The declaration added that all those in the diaspora, who want to return and settle in Africa, should be allowed to do so and that those who enslaved and colonised Africa should provide seaworthy vessels and aircraft for such repatriation.

Between 1450 and 1850, it is estimated that at least 12 million Africans and probably many more were shipped from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean, primarily to colonies in North America, South America, and the West Indies.

The United States has never formally apologised for its participation in the slave trade.

A further 20 million slaves are estimated to have been exported to other parts of the world, in particular the Middle East and North Africa, over a similar time period.

Contrary to widespread belief, slavery is still practised in some parts of Africa, including Sudan and West Africa.

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