UNESCO official says traders had licences to buy slaves

Paris- France (PANA) -- Slave traders took commercial licences to conduct their trade in millions of Africa's vibrant sons and daughters forcefully transported across the Atlantic in the 15th century to work plantations of the Americas and the Antilles, a UNESCO official said Wednesday in Paris.
UNESCO director in the division of Intercultural Dialogue, Doudou Diene, who is also in charge of the "Slave Routes" project, said the need for labour to commercially exploit the lands in the Americas and the Antilles was the driving force behind the slave trade.
Diene, who highlighted the role of intellectuals in the institutionalisation of racism, said institutionalised theories espoused in a "Black Code" by Western scholars equated Africans to merchandise and helped to bolster the Slave Traders pursuit of the trade as "legitimate business" because many were even insured against any possible losses of slaves.
The traders made profits, which partly helps to explain the lengthy duration (400 years) of the trade, Diene told PANA in an interview.
Even after the slave trade was abolished, institutionalised theories which nurtured it by diminishing the value of the black man remained deeply embedded in Western societies, thus further explaining "the continued racist attitudes against black people today", he noted.
Therefore, Diene wants the Durban conference against racism to bring into sharp focus the magnitude of the consequences suffered by Africa and its black Diaspora as a result of the slave trade which effects the continent is still reeling under.
He said such racism continues to contribute to the marginalization of blacks in all domains of socio-economic progress in the world.
Diene argued that the legitimacy of Africa's demands for reparations should never be questioned because the principle of reparation was the foundation of all legal systems of justice and rights whenever major human rights of a people were downtrodden.
To scuttle the rights of Africa and its black Diaspora to reparations would be synonymous to promoting impunity for a human rights wrong, he warned.

29 august 2001 22:12:00




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