NAIROBI, Kenya (PANA)-Two lobby groups pressing for the return of resources looted from Africa by former colonial masters have intensified compensation claims from the United States and Britain ahead of President George Bush’s visit to the continent, starting July 8.
The Pan African Reparations Movement and the Global African Congress are demanding $776 trillion from the two powers for using Africans as their cheap source of labor to build underground railways and industries.
The two lobby groups called for compensation from rich Western conglomerates, Barclays Bank, the Unilever, an agricultural, food and beauty products company, and the Catholic Church, saying they were responsible for the grabbing of land and raw materials from Africa.
Lobby group chair Dennis Akumu, a renowned African trade unionist, said the group was preparing to go to court to have the British Royal family’s role in slavery probed and an international development fund set up to reverse the poverty trend caused by colonialism.
“Slavery, colonialism and genocide are responsible for the lack of development in Africa,” Mr. Akumu charged. “This is part of a struggle to restore the dignity of our people after the inhuman treatment they received from the colonialists.
“European countries must set up a development fund to compensate Africans who suffered due to slavery and racial violence meted against them during the colonial era,” he added.
The compensation calls come at a time when the African Union (AU) is in Maputo, Mozambique, to discuss development. It also comes ahead of George Bush’s expected visit to the former slave-trade Island of Goree, Senegal.
Local newspaper reports indicated here recently that the U.S. president will arrive in Goree Island to talk about slavery, but according to his national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush is unlikely to apologize for the ills of slavery.
Mr. Bush was quoted as saying the Goree retreat was “to show that we deeply care about the plight of the African citizens.”
However, Mr. Akumu, who is the former secretary general of the African Confederation of Trade Unions, said Mr. Bush’s trip was a sign that the United States was ready for dialogue with Africa towards hammering out reparations agreements with victims of the “White terror.”
The group is demanding an estimated $1 trillion in compensation from the British government on behalf of Kenyan communities, including the Kikuyu, Turkana, Kisii, Mijikenda, Nandi and the Turkana for the stealing of their land.
The Pan African Reparations Movement formed in 2000 following the adoption of the Abuja Declaration of 1993, which gave the green light for Africa to pursue compensation at the Pan African Movement, is demanding apologies from the former colonialists.
The lobby groups drew their strength from the International Committee Against Racism, which formed during the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, where they formed the International Committee on Racism.
Mr. Akumu said at a press conference that although compensation would not replace human lives lost during slavery, it would help the continent to develop economically.