President Barrow: Gambia will use Janjanbureh to Promote Reparations Agenda

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President Barrow arriving at the event

By: Kebba Ansu Manneh 

President Adama Barrow has announced plans that the country will take advantage of the JanJang-Bureh Island Bicentenary celebration and use its diplomatic, intellectual, and cultural advantage to promote the reparations agenda, saying thousands of Africans who were freed from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade bound for Freetown, Sierra Leone, were re-settled in Georgetown.

President Barrow was speaking at the official opening of the Bicentenary Commemoration of Janjang-Bureh on Saturday, 6th January 2024, where he said the presence of a high-level delegation from Senegal manifests the bond of friendship and good neighborliness between The Gambia and Senegal.

“History teaches us that, about 200 years ago, the Island of Janjanbureh was transformed from a peaceful Gambian settlement to a trading center by the British under Queen Victoria. It eventually hosted many French and British firms and was renamed McCarthy Island, with a part of it called Georgetown. As we have it on record, thousands of Africans who were freed from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade bound for Freetown, Sierra Leone, were re-settled here in Georgetown,” President Barrow disclosed in his official opening statement.

He added: “We are in this historic town, therefore, to celebrate its Bicentenary on an island where hope was restored to captured Africans who were unjustly seized, unjustly treated, and unjustly removed from their homeland and families without any regard for their rights and dignity. On account of this, it is with mixed feelings that we have organized this historic Festival to remember the events of the mid-nineteenth century.”

The Gambian Leader observed that it is because of the cruel acts of that dark era that Africans have been forced to demand reparations from those who took part in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, noting that it is a welcome development that the African Union, the United Nations, and some African countries have already started to ask for reparations.

“The African Union, for instance, has in the past two decades led a strong and persistent campaign on reparations for slavery as a basic human right for Africans. Coming home, in 2022, at its 73rd Ordinary Session held in Banjul, The Gambia, The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights agreed to set up a committee that would establish a case for reparations,” President Adama Barrow recounted.

He added: “The Gambia will seize the MacCarthy Island Bicentenary celebration to use its diplomatic, intellectual, and cultural advantage to promote the reparations agenda.”

According to him, last October, the Cabinet observed that it is rewarding for a nation to reflect on the past to chart the way forward for a better future, adding that it is given this Cabinet worked closely with the National Organising Committee, stakeholders, and the communities of the area to hold this grand commemoration.

President Barrow further observed that the Festival has brought together Gambians at home and those in the diaspora, adding that the Festival has also attracted friends of The Gambia, historians, and tourists to participate in the healing, re-connection, and reconciliation process through our shared history and heritage.

“I am pleased that the organizers have involved artists in The Gambia and those in the sub-region and beyond in the activities for peace and reconciliation. It is highly commendable that regional unity and integration will be highlighted during the festivities. This will reinforce the intensity of the messages and impact of the event, which future generations will surely acclaim forever,” President Barrow further observed.

He added: “Besides the expressed objectives of the Festival, we are celebrating hope over despair and indifference, growth and progress over stagnation and submission, and unity in diversity over intolerance and instability. This is an important message for everyone, especially the African youth.”

According to him, Westerners who landed in Janjanbureh two hundred years ago made the best out of a very bad situation and ended up building homes and careers for themselves and their offspring, adding that the lesson for the youths is that we must strive to succeed in the country.

Other Speakers at the event include Hamat N.K. Bah, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Prime Minister of Senegal Amadou Bah, and Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.

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