A high-level diaspora forum was held in Accra, the capital of Ghana, to advocate for the recognition of diversity and the cultural contributions of people of African descent to the development of societies around the world.
Convened by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), it was attended by high-profile personalities such as Natalia Kamen, the UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, the Vice President of Costa Rica, Epsy Campbell Barr, and his Ghanaian counterpart, Mahamudu Bawumia.
The forum, The Return Mission, is part of a UN initiative to promote the rights of people of African descent.
Speaking at the Accra forum on Friday, Kamen, also of African descent, said the forum provided “an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen cooperation for our collective progress and promote equity, healing and social justice for our communities across the globe.” the world”.
For her part, the Vice President of Costa Rica, Epsy Campbell Barr, emphasized the importance of making the dream of the Jamaican-American intellectual Marcus Garvey of a global union of blacks come true.
“Africans have been victims of systemic historical racism and exclusion, and it is time to deliver on the promise of recognition, justice and development,” he said. “We must join forces as one continent and promote policies that strengthen the relationship and ties between Africa and the diaspora.”
There are an estimated 200 million people of African descent in the Americas, with millions more in other regions of the world outside of Africa.
In December 2013, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2015-2024 the International Decade for People of African Descent and called on the international community to recognize people of African descent as a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected.
The theme of the declaration is “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development”.
The UNGA also declared August 31 of each year as the International Day for People of African Descent.
Meanwhile, the African Union has also declared the African Diaspora as its sixth region, along with North, South, East, West, Central Africa and the Diaspora.
Ghana, where the forum is being held, has been a leading voice in building stronger relations between Africa and the African diaspora.
In 2019, President Nana Akufo-Addo launched the “Year of Return” to encourage the African diaspora to return to the continent, particularly Ghana, to settle and invest as part of the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first group of enslaved Africans in America.
The West African nation has a long history with the African diaspora due to its crucial role in what eventually became known as the transatlantic slave trade.
Its 550-kilometre coastline is dotted with forts and castles that served as slave dungeons, making it easy to acquire, transport, and sell black Africans as slaves to European countries and North America.
Kamen and Barr visited some of these historic sites to relive the trials of enslaved Africans. One of his stops was at the Assin Manso River Slave site, which served as the place where slaves from across the country rested and took their last bath on African soil before being sent to the dungeons at Elmina and Cape Coast Castle.
The UN delegation also visited the dungeons.