On Roots, Reparations and Repatriation


A quick look into the troubling claims of many Western historians, who are insistent that our history is almost nonexistent, which has in itself been a catalyst to the depersonalisation of many Africans and people of African descent, the relevance of connecting to the true and authentic history of our motherland cannot be underestimated. The many problems of racial inferiority and other vices connected to it are but the outcome of that same claim. Although we have many historians who have been fighting this archaic and destructive mentality, it still remains a main obstacle in the harmonisation of the Diaspora with the motherland.


Apart from its relevance to authentic historicity, events as this one serve as a reminder of the need for reparations of the woes of the slave trade. The often hotly contested topic of at least paying back for the cruelties inflicted upon those people who were enslaved by the European slave merchants. At a time when reparations are being paid to the Jewish people for the evils of the Holocaust of the Second World War – recently Germany committed to paying nearly 800 million euro for the care of elderly Holocaust survivors, as part of the reparations to the Jewish people – it is only fair that Africans and people of African descent receive their rightful share. 



It could be recalled that in 1999 the African World Reparations and Repatriation Truth Commission called on the West to pay 777 trillion dollars to Africa within a span of five years. However since that time till now, nothing has been done by the West to pay back, apart from sympathetic rhetoric; and it’s a fact that the cruelest historical reality has been that of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Of course there is constant effort to remind the West of its duty towards Africa, as much as the reparations are concerned, but it’s seen almost as a hopeless case. So with a homecoming and reunion between the two distant relatives, issues as this can be brought to the forefront once more, thus reminding the stakeholders involved.


One other issue which has also been a major contention is that of repatriation. First sounded on a major  scale by the radical Jamaican black freedom fighter Marcus Garvey, the matter of repatriation has always been a much discussed topic within the Diasporan community. With Garvey and a host of other black leaders calling for a mass exodus of the African people in the western hemisphere, many options have been exhausted, leading to the creation of the state of Liberia. But many voices have been raised against it, with claims such as incompatibility with the socio-cultural milieu and climate differences, as major obstacles in its realisation. Now with a festival as this one, many prejudices will be dealt with accordingly, thereby giving much the benefit of the doubt as to living in Africa.


So the Roots Homecoming Festival is indeed very important in the ongoing dialogue between Africans both home and abroad. Serving also to bridge the gap between the two worlds, this festival will go a long way in fostering unity and harmony amongst us as sons and daughters of the continent. It should be used then to achieve those goals and also as a means to intensify the demands of the African peoples for their just rights to reparations; for if the Jewish people can receive theirs, then it’s only sane and sound that African demands are not neglected.


We wish all visitors a very uplifting and inspiring experience whiles on the shores of the Gambia.