14 February 2019

Africa's Diaspora Commemorates 400 Years of Slavery

Africans in the diaspora will this year in October commemorate the 400th anniversary of the trans-Atlantic slave trade with the opening of an African Trade Hub in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

The International Trade Hub will be held at the Park Expo and Convention Centre in Charlotte, North Carolina. According to the African Union Ambassador and Permanent Representative to Washington Dr Arikana Chihombori-Quao, the commemorations will include planes flying out of Charlotte taking the African diasporans home.

"The AU is, once and for all, calling on all its children in the diaspora, recent migrants and descendants of slaves, to come back home to Africa and take what is rightfully ours. Africa's wealth belongs to the African children on the continent and abroad. President Museveni of Uganda called on all of us Africans, both leaders and citizens to stop 'sleeping like grasshoppers and wake up,'" she said.

Dr Chihombori-Quao said two other sensitisation events would be held before the main celebrations.

"The Park Expo will be a distribution centre for African goods. An Africa-US Trade Fair will also be held in Charlotte during the October event and annually thereafter," she said.

According to the AU, recognition of the 400th Anniversary of the trans-Atlantic slave trade paper presented at the recently held AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, maintaining this tradition dovetails well with the theme: "The Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa".

"After all, the kidnapping and forceful transportation of Africans by their millions out of the continent and to the Americas and elsewhere, remains the single largest, and longest lasting chapters of forced migration in human history," the paper noted.

The commemoration follows a venerable tradition of the African Union Summit and Commission making strong declarations in remembrance of this uniquely damaging chapter of African history, and, simultaneously, embracing the resulting diaspora of African peoples.

"Commemorating this anniversary will at a minimum serve to remind Africans of the historical experience of the African diaspora which continues to shape even contemporary African migration, conflict and economies."

President Uhuru Kenyatta has agreed to be patron to R400 Consortium and its sponsorship of a major campaign to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

The R400 initiative seeks to go beyond commemorating the 400 years that have passed, but to shape the next 100 years positively for African peoples by reconnecting, reconciling, reclaiming and rebuilding. It is guided by a strong focus on African unity, on a global level being utilised as a tool to build economic prosperity.

"Its values are the embrace of diversity and inclusion, high performance, integrity and trust, partnership and advocacy. The movement will bring together Africans, the African diaspora and African-Americans."

The initiative, among some of its objectives, seeks to drive the reconnection and re-engagement that has a concrete impact on economic prosperity and building a strengthened sense of pride and unity.

"It will in this way profile the opportunities of investing in Africa by its diaspora; Africa's achievements; and, the desirability of reconnection and reengagement.

"In this way, its economic impact, at a minimum, can be a positive contribution to the durable solutions being sought to solve the challenges causing large-scale production of refugees, returnees and IDPs in Africa."

Dr Chihombori-Quao will lead efforts to give every assistance to the R400 initiative and its events in 2019 and 2020 while engaging with African states and their representatives.

She will also be in charge of memorialising the past 400 years in 2019 using a major event in October in the United States that will bring together Africans in the US and African Americans to acknowledge the fortitude, resilience and progress made by all those of African descent.

The AU Ambassador and Permanent representative has also been charged with connecting businesses and African and African-African-American business leaders in different sectors from Africa and the United States to deliver business partnerships.

Another major event will also be held next year to celebrate the next four years of a Pan-African

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