Veep Bawumia addressing the forum
Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia has appealedto Africans to open their doors to Afro-descendants and connect with the African Diasporans.
Speaking at a High Level Diasporan Forum organised by the UNFPA in Accra last week Friday, the Vice President stressed on the unbreakable link between Africa and its descendants, their potential contributions to the development of the African continent, and the need to continue to open doors for them back to their roots.
“Afro-descendants are Africans, no matter where they come from. As long as you are a Blackman or black woman, you are an African regardless of your nationality,” Dr Bawumia said, adding that to emphasise the representative relevance of Afro-descendants to Africa on a global scale, the African Union has taken a decision to recognize and regard Africans in the Diaspora as the ‘sixth region’ of Africa.
“To this end, people of African Descent living outside the continent irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union make up the 6th Region of Africa – North, West, East, Central, South and the Diaspora.I urge all Africans to embrace people of African descent, because we are one people by blood,” he said.
While calling on Africans to extend hospitality to their brothers in the Diaspora, Dr. Bawumia highlighted deep-seated racial discrimination Afro-descendants continue to face in their respective countries of birth, and commended initiatives by bold Diasporans, who resist and speak out against such discriminations.
“By virtue of the very chequered and multi-layered history involving slavery, colonialism, fleeing from oppressive conditions, our forefathers were forced out of the motherland. Their descendants, some of whom have returned today have evolved into a heterogeneous, albeit recognisable, group of people with a unique cultural history and heritage.”
“The very context for their existence has exposed this group of Africans to being intimately acquainted with the effects of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. People of African descent have a story only they can tell and should not be side-lined in discussions on the advancement of the protection of rights and demanding for equity.”
“These deep-seated biases still prevail in the world we live in, with Afro-descendants struggling to find a sense of belonging in a land where they were born, but which rejects them at every turn. Please join me while I salute every single Afro-descendant who bravely challenges the order of the day by continuing to resist all forms of racial discrimination.”
Dr. Bawumia noted that as a tribute to the “hard work and tireless efforts” of those who speak out to let the voices of people of African descent be heard, the world has seen a proliferation of several racial equality bodies on a national and regional level, which he said “have guided the United Nation’s Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent to perform its mandate of studying the problems of people of African descent and proposing the solutions to this complex narrative.”
“Such solutions have included the commemoration of the First International Day for People of African Descent which took place on the 31st of August 2021 in San José, Costa Rica. I am proud to say that Ghana was well-represented at this historical event.”
Dr. Bawumia seized the opportunity to highlight to the forum, the role Ghana has played in promoting relationship between Africa and Africans in the Diaspora.
“In 2019, the Government of Ghana set up an initiative for Africans living in the diaspora dubbed the “Year of Return” that brought the global African family to the continent through Ghana as a gateway,” the Vice President noted.
“Subsequently, a ten-year project christened “Beyond the Return: A Decade of African Renaissence” is being implemented by the Government.
“It aimed to promote the recognition and respect for the diversity of the legacy, culture, and contributions of people of African descent to the development of societies, as well as deepen that bond through tourism and trade.”
Dr Bawumia affirmed the commitment of the Government of Ghana towards the objectives of strengthening and promoting ties with Afro-descendants.
“I reaffirm Ghana’s commitment to champion the objectives of the International Decade of People of African Descent as envisioned by the UN General Assembly. Even at the AU level, these issues will continue to be emphasised and with the urgency it deserves.
“On a personal level, I remain available to contribute my quota in any way possible and I assure you the support of government and the support of the people of Ghana on this journey.”
The High Level Forum was graced by the Vice President of Costa Rica, Epsy Campbell Barr.
Also present was Dr. Natalia Kanem, United Nations Under-Secretary-General & Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)