Strengthening ties with Africa ‘is writing a chapter in a more positive and hopeful story,” Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday told Parliament on Wednesday.
“A story that says for us, as an enduring theme, that out of great injustice and unimaginable enforced human suffering, we, in the Caribbean, have created for ourselves distinctive societies that defy our tragic beginnings of slavery and colonial conflicts, and strive to be good examples of what just and peace-loving nations can be,” he told a special sitting of the national assembly.
“It is my belief, that our small size as a nation does not, in any way, limit us in those aspirations and accomplishments. Our seat on the UN Security Council will present many opportunities for us to demonstrate this,” he told the sitting, held to mark the official visit to St. Vincent and the Grenadines by President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
He noted that Ghana and SVG share the painful history of the Atlantic Slave trade, adding that the slave trade brought destructive consequences for the African continent but great wealth for the slave trading nations of Europe.
“Many scholars and writers have discussed the economics of the Atlantic slave trade and African slavery in the Americas, and those efforts will no doubt continue.” Friday told lawmakers.
“In recent times, acknowledgment of the scale of the crime and injustice of the Atlantic slave trade and African slavery surely has been slow in coming but is growing; and the calls for reparatory justice increase,” he said.
Ghana is, this year, hosting the “Year of Return”, to mark 400 years since the commencement of the Atlantic Slave Trade and to reinforce its commitment that, never again, will Africans be traded like commodities.
Friday said the Year of Return is a welcome and important effort to confront the history of slavery and to build consensus to ensure that “such acts of inhumanity find no justification or outright manifestation in our modern world.”
“I hope we will be able to take up your kind invitation to take part in it in Accra. This great effort is consistent with your country’s historical role as leading the way in the decolonization process in Africa.”
The opposition leader said Ghana is, today, a stable democracy with excellent prospects for economic growth and development.
“It is a modern example, not only for Africa but also for the world at large because of the benefits of democratic good governance and people-centred economic policies,” Friday said.
He said he was proud to know that Ghana has been forecast to lead the world in economic growth this year with a growth rate of between 7.6 and 8.8 per cent.
“With a large population and strong economy, we can expect great things for your people and, indeed, a fruitful relationship with your friends, especially with us here in SVG,” Friday said.
He said that Vincentians are proud and resilient people.
“Though pushed and pulled by the currents of global geopolitics and squeezed and marginalised by ever-changing economic conditions that we cannot control, or even influence, we persevere in the belief that we can, nevertheless, shape our destiny and provide good and decent lives for our people. “
He said it is comforting to know that SVG has a friend in Ghana.
“We know that you wish for us to succeed in our reasonable and just goals of providing for our people and being a good example that others might follow,” Friday said.
“Without military might or economic levers to pull to achieve our goals, we must rely on our moral example to have influence in the world. We also must rely on friends like you, who share our values and beliefs, which include a commitment to democracy — though challenged at times — an unwavering defence of human rights and our adherence to the principles of peaceful co-existence among nations.”