UN pays tribute to achievements of African diaspora

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The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has paid tribute to the achievements of African diaspora, who rose above the chains and pains of slave trade to impact humanity.

Guterres, in his message to the 2017 International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, expressed regret over the pains of slave trade on Africa and Africans.

According to Guterres, the theme for this year’s International Day, “Recognising the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent,” invites us to pay tribute to the many achievements of the African diaspora.

“We see those contributions in every field of human endeavour.

“The descendants of slaves have made their mark as inventors, economists and jurists; as authors and scholars; as artists and athletes; as politicians and civil rights leaders.

Antonio Guterres

Guterres said that Mae Jemison, was the first African-American woman to enter outer space.

He said Jemison was among the distinguished individuals of African descent who are being honoured in an exhibition currently on display in the UN Building, at the visitors’ lobby.

“One descendant of slaves made an imprint on the United Nations itself: Ralph Bunche, the first African-American to win a Nobel Prize and one of the most respected and celebrated international civil servants in the history of this Organisation.

“It seems especially appropriate at this commemorative meeting to recall the life and work of Derek Walcott, the poet and Nobel laureate from Saint Lucia who died one week ago today.

“In poems and other writings, he confronted the brutality of slavery and the legacy of colonialism.

“In ‘The Sea is History’, for example, he gave us the searing image of “men with eyes as heavy as anchors, who sank without tombs.

“The United Nations and I personally attach the greatest importance to the challenge of slavery, past and present,” he said.

Guterres said through the UN Remember Slavery Programme, the international body would continue shedding light on tragedies related to slavery.

He added that the UN will continue to highlight the impressive and living contributions that people of African descent are making to their communities and to the world.

Guterres cautioned that the world “must never forget this dark chapter of human history”.

“The legacy of slavery resounds down the ages. The world has yet to overcome racism. Many countries still suffer from economic patterns and decisions set in motion long ago.

“Many families still feel keenly the trauma imposed on their forebears. We must continue to recognise the persistent pain of this legacy even in the present moment.

“Moreover, we know that while some forms of slavery may have been abolished, others have emerged to blight our world, including human trafficking and forced and bonded labour.

“Heeding the lessons of yesterday means fighting these ills today,” Guterres said.

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