President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, making his historic address in Parliament. (B.Hinds/BGIS)

In His Own WordsPresident Akufo-Addo: Quotes by the President of Ghana from his historic address in Parliament – June 14, 2019.

President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo paid an official visit to Barbados on Friday, June 14. While on island, he held bilateral talks with Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley. Both countries agreed to deepen cooperation in many areas, including education and health.

President Akufo-Addo also promoted “The Year of Return”, a Ghanaian initiative inviting Africans and African descendants in the Americas and the Caribbean to visit Ghana.  It is aimed at strengthening relations between the continent and its diaspora.

He said, “The Year of Return will mark the 400th anniversary of the first recorded arrival in America of 20 people, who were forcibly abducted from West Africa.  This signaled the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade, in which 20 to 25 million Africans were brought in chains to the Americas and the Caribbean.”

President Akufo-Addo was the first Ghanaian leader to visit Barbados.  He was bestowed the honor of being the first foreign Head of State to address both houses in the Parliament of Barbados.

Below are twelve of the most powerful quotes from his address:

1. “We are remembering this anniversary to underline our determination that never again will Africa allow herself and her people to be subjected to such an obscene, degrading and dehumanizing catastrophe.”

2. “Never again shall it be that a dozen or so armed foreigners, with the connivance of a few of our own people, would reduce Africans to traded commodities.” 

3. “I would like to pay a special tribute to Africans in the diaspora, both as individuals and states.  The African Union recognizes the importance of the diaspora and that is why the African diaspora is designated as the 6th region of the African Union.”

4. “We might have started as slaves, but the contributions of Africans in the development of the Americas and the Caribbean is matchless.  I do not refer just to the slave labour that built American railways…industries and… infrastructure as well as those of the Caribbean.  I refer also to the roles of Africans in innovation, in science, in sports, in music, in the arts and in the fashioning of the Americas and the Caribbean.”

From left to right: Dr. Anthony ‘Gabby’ Carter; President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo; and Prime Minister, Mia Amor Mottley, at a reception in the Parliament Courtyard following the President’s historic address. (B.Hinds/BGIS)

5. “In the sporting world, Africans in the diaspora have also shown that they are not afraid of hard work and discipline.  Football, athletics and many other games have been taken to new heights, thanks to the efforts of the descendants of those who were forcibly transported to the Americas.”

6. “Allow me to get a little personal here.  I love cricket.  I follow cricket keenly and I’ve learned that as a cricket lover that I am on sacred ground here in Barbados. Let me pay homage to George Challenor; Everton DeCourcey Weekes; Clyde Walcott; Frank Worrell; Garfield Sobers – the greatest of all of the cricketers of my generation; Wes Hall; Malcolm Marshall; Joel Garner; Gordon Greenidge; and Desmond Haynes…. They are current, exciting players as well, Jofra Archer, Carlos Brathwaite, Shai Hope, Kemar Roach, Dwayne Smith.  I salute all of you.”

7. “I refer to Frederick Douglas, one of the greatest of all Americans when he said that ‘slaves sing best when they are most unhappy’.  If that is so, then the world has a lot to thank the black people in the diaspora for much of the music that has kept the world going in the past three centuries.  All of the great singers in entertainment for the past 100 years, acknowledge Africa as the source of the rhythm and lyrics of their music.  Calypso still captivates, and reggae gets new converts every day.  For some of us of a certain age, the Merrymen of Barbados remain the defining sound of happy times past.  Let me recognize some of the calypso greats who kept us entertained in years gone by… Lord Kitchener…Sparrow, Calypso Rose and of course, the Merrymen of Barbados. And I dare not forget that Rihanna is from Barbados as well.”

8. “Ghana is open for business.  There are business opportunities for those who would partner with Ghanaians in a fast growing economy.  We are particularly keen to open our country and spread industries across the length and breadth of the country.”

9. “The welcome that you find in Ghana is unique and like none anywhere else. Our foods are interesting and tend to be one sample never forgotten.  I do not need to remind you that we are the home of Kente, the fabric that has come to define the black race everywhere.  We lead in fashion on the continent; our music is catchy and unforgettable, and the drums and rhythm make us stand out.”

10. “I invite all Africans and descendants of Africans in the diaspora to come, explore and experience Ghana in this Year of Return.”

11. “We want to use this Year of Return as a bridge to build stronger ties between Ghana, those of us on the continent, and the African diaspora….  Africa is your home and Ghana would be happy to serve as the bridge between African and the diaspora.”

12. “It says on the last door of the dungeon leading out from the slave castles that dot our coastlines, ‘Door of no return’.  Let us show we can return; we have returned and we have conquered the humiliation and the degradation of 400 years ago.”

Compiled by Shamkoe Pilé & Melissa Rollock

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