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Thoughts on the Atlantic Slave Trade: the Roles of Africans and the Issue of Apology for Slavery

Abdul-Rasheed Na'Allah


Who deserves an apology for the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade? Skip Gates, in his Wonders of the African World video series makes some Africans apologize to him, thus demonstrating his belief that continental Africans need to apologize to descendants of slaves in the Diaspora. President Mathieu Kérékou of the Republic of Benin echoed a similar belief by asking for a conference where continental Africans would apologize to Diaspora Africans for slavery. I’m not sure whom the president was speaking for, and whether he was offering to convene such a meeting. In my view, continental and Diaspora Africans have never been enemies and have always worked together for the glory of Africa, and history is rich in examples, Nkrumah to DuBois, Randall Robinson to Moshood Abiola. However, we need conferences, in Africa and abroad, to reconcile our understanding of past events and to ensure that no one sells the African agenda to the highest bidder. Yet, apology will not end the debate and misunderstanding about Atlantic Slave Trade. We need to know whether Africans advertised to Europe that they were slavers, and invited Europeans to buy slaves, or Europeans had their own plan, and enticed uninformed, militarily weaker Africans, to choose between Cane and Carrot, to sell their own brothers and sisters. We need to know whether no African resisted the idea of his own people sold across the ocean. We must know what happened to King Jaja of Opobo and his contemporaries, and whether there was truly no African resistance to slave trade.

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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