The West should acknowledge and make up for its crimes

Paris- France (PANA) -- Ahead of the Durban conference on racism, the President of an Afro-Antilles NGO known as the Rally for Democracy and Civic Awareness (RDC), Joby Valente, has said it would help lay the foundation for a better world if western countries acknowledged their crimes against humanity and paid reparations.
Such acknowledgement, Valente observed, required some kind of "mea culpa" (I-am-at-fault) covenant at the Durban conference.
According to Valente such humility could elicit a positive response from the wronged party, hence create a conducive environment for positive change.
She observed that "arrogant" attitudes that seek to cover up past and present wrongs did not augur well for a world aspiring to better life for all regardless of race.
Valente asserted that as long as attempts were made to refuse to acknowledge crimes committed against the black race since the Slave Trade, the world would continue to degenerate to a point where even nature itself would turn against it.
She maintained that the black race deserved reparations for crimes committed through the slave trade period in which millions of Africans were forcefully transported to the America's and the Caribbean regions to work as slaves.
Valente noted that slave trade reduced the African to a mere object for sale through institutionalised policies by western scholars who helped create racist attitudes against black people in the world today.
"Reparations are necessary because the damage caused continues to pose obstacles to the socio-economic advancement of black people through racist attitudes against them," she charged.
According to her, blacks are up against obstacles to the extent that in the Antilles for instance, young people seeking to study medicine and other science-related disciplines were stopped in their tracks due to a "quota systems".
The negative psychological effects of slave trade was made possible through deliberate manipulation aimed at "programming the African mind" to "think and act in ways that ran counter to his own interests," she said, insisting that "today the hard disc in the black mind has to be re-programmed to give it an African orientation as opposed to concepts about the West being the best".
Slave trade, she bemoaned, reduced the African sense of self-worth, hence the continued manipulation in which western ideas are made to inform Africa's development even when it was evident that the approach only wreaks more havoc.
According to her western countries have since the slave trade period used manipulative tactics to draw Africans into their schemes even when these ran counter to the interests of Africans.
"We are not against whites, but against the global systems skewed to perpetrate socio-economic misery for the black race," she pointed out.
According to her those who argue that Africans sold their own people into slavery conveniently forget to mention the manipulative tactics employed by western countries to "pit Africans against Africans".
For Valente, the Durban conference on racism could only lay the foundation for a better world if countries which benefited from the slave trade acknowledged their past crimes against humanity and paid due reparations to the black race instead of seeking to escape responsibility.
The RDC, which seeks to raise black consciousness to what it sees as the dangers facing black peoples around the world, is opposed to the contention that Africans should "forget the past and focus on the future".
Valente counters that the future for Africa and the Black race cannot be positively constructed without sorting out the past, whose effects continue inhibit the socio-economic development blacks.
"Why," she queried, "is it that today they (the West) teach their children the history of Napoleon but turn around and tell black people to forget about their past and focus on the future?" She saw as a challenge to those professing commitment to building a better world for all, an acknowledgement of past wrongs and consequent reparations.

19 august 2001 10:47:00

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