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“Slavery must make us better not bitter” – Liberian Vice-President

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The Vice-President of Liberia Jewel Howard-Taylor has charged Africans not to allow slavery to make them bitter but better.

Speaking at the opening of a three-day Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa (HACSA) Summit in Accra today, Wednesday, 7 August 2019, Dr Howard-Taylor said if as slaves Africans could improve the economy of others then as freedmen and women African leaders can manage their economies properly, eliminate corruption, adopt systems of good governance, demonstrate respect for the rule of law, protect human rights and provide opportunities for their children to be the greatness of who they are.

She further charged African leaders to ensure they create new environments where the young people on the continent do not end up as slaves again across the seas into lands which once held their forebears looking for a better life but that better life in her view, can be created on the African continent.

Dr Howard-Taylor said: “Our collective history of slavery should never allow us to be bitter but better. Our history commends us to be better versions of ourselves, to dream to reach out for those dreams and to excel in all that we do. If as slaves we could fight for our freedom and rights, then as freedmen and women we need to protect the rights and freedoms of all.

“If as slaves we could hold onto our culture and values then as free men and women, we can celebrate the richness of our culture and our values and pass them on to the succeeding generations.

“If as slaves we could improve the economy of others then as freedmen and women, we can manage our economies properly, eliminate corruption, adopt systems of good governance, demonstrate respect for the rule of law, protect human rights and provide opportunities for our children to be the greatness of who they are.

“We must ensure we create new environments where our children do not end up as slaves again across the seas into lands which once held their forebears for they are running away from our countries and crossing the seas and dying in their thousands looking for a better life but that better life indeed can be created here on the African continent.

“If as slaves we can teach ourselves to read and write and to create an event through the sciences, then as freedmen and women, surely we can provide quality education for the next generation.

“If as slaves our forebears were trapped by what they could imagine and hope to become then as freedmen and women surely we can unchain our minds, adapt to the changing times, unlock the fullness of our human imagination and potential so that boys and girls alike, indeed all of our children can dream and be limited only by the power of their dream and the determination to work to realising those dreams.

“If as slaves we sing with unfailing hope: ‘we shall overcome’ when each day was filled with hopelessness, then as freedmen and women so full of the blessings of life and the hope of promise for a better tomorrow, surely we can sing today that we have indeed overcome. We have overcome not by surrendering our fate to some external force but by setting our own course and determining our own destinies.”

The 2019 HACSA summit will examine the 400-year legacy of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade through which Africans were enslaved, with an aim to link, reunite and reconcile the affected communities and share examples of innovation and creative strategies to overcome that episode’s persisting negative effects.

The summit also coincides with Ghana’s ‘Year of Return’ programme, which, symbolically, marks the 400th-anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans in the US and invites the African diaspora back home.

It is on the theme: ‘400 Years On: Legacy, Communities, Innovation’. It involves a full week of learning, commemoration, celebration, networking, debate and heritage tours.

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