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General News of Saturday, 3 August 2019

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Let’s build new world together - US Congressman John Lewis

The legendary United States of America (USA) Congressman, Mr John Lewis, made an emotional remark at the Oguamanhen’s Emintsimadze Palace, in relation to building a new world, when he, together with the US Speaker of the House of Representatives,?Ms Nancy Pelosi, and other Congressional delegates, visited the Cape Coast and Elmina castles in the Central Region as part of the “Year of Return” activities in?Ghana on Tuesday.

Appearing emotional, Mr Lewis, after touring the two castles and receiving a briefing on how African slaves were kept in dungeons, chained together and shipped to America through the “Door of No Return” now “Door of Return”, echoed the feelings of the delegation from the Black Caucus and said: “We need to do all we can to bring our world community together.”

Mr Lewis, described as the: “the conscience of the US Congress,” who represents the people of Georgia’s 5th Congressional District and one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement in USA has ever produced and a colleague of the late Dr Martin Luther King Jr., appeared tearful as he lamented the horrors of the slave trade.

“We have a right to save the planet for the generations yet unborn. We need to build a new world so that we all can be free at home and abroad,” the man who has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties and building what he calls: “The Beloved Community” in America said.

He said they wept while on the tour of the castles and thanked Speaker Nancy Pelosi for deciding to be part of the Black Caucus delegation for the Year of Return visit to Ghana, which is part of activities marking the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans arriving in America.

Year of Return

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in September 2018 in Washington DC, declared and formally launched the “Year of Return Ghana 2019” for Africans in the Diaspora, giving fresh impetus to the quest to unite Africans on the continent with their brothers and sisters in the Diaspora.

The Black Caucus in the US Congress subsequently linked the Ghanaian government’s initiative with the passage in Congress in 2017 of the 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act, which include the setting up of a history commission to carry out and provide funding for activities marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies at Point Comfort, Virginia, in 1619.

Subsequently, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, accompanied by 12-Members of the US House of Representatives Congressional Black Caucus, visited Ghana this week as part of the commemoration which would be repeated in the US House of Representatives.

Nkrumah’s inspiration

Speaking at the Oguamanhen’s Palace with Osabarimba Kwesi Atta II sitting in state, Mr Lewis said: “Today is an unbelievable day. I first came to this country [Ghana] in 1964 when I was just a young boy. And to be back here and see what we saw today, it made me cry..., I don’t think I have any tears left, I don’t understand it, why the world community was so silent [about the slave trade], why the religious community was so silent and didn’t act, didn’t speak up. My philosophy is very simple, when you see something that is not right, not fair or not just, you have an obligation to say something or do something,” he stressed on behalf of Members of the delegation.

Congressman Lewis recalled that he was inspired by civil rights activists like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi’s teachings and Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who have all enabled him to fight against injustice.

He said as a young boy at the age of 18, he met Dr Martin Luther King Jr and “we discussed studying the way of peace, the way of love and the philosophy and discipline of non-violence.”

He said before then, hundreds of thousands of black people couldn’t register to vote but “we changed that ...America is much better. We’ve come here to say thank you,” he added.

He said Martin Luther King and Ghana’s first President Dr Nkrumah inspired him to get into “necessary trouble” even though he was advising people not to get into trouble.

Reconciliation

Responding, Osabarimba Kwesi Atta II urged the Congressmen and women to use their positions of authority to influence change for a better future for the next generations.

Earlier, at the Elmina Castle, where another mini durbar was organised to receive the Congressional delegation, the Paramount Chief of the Edina Traditional Area, Nana Kodwo Conduah VI, urged African-Americans to put the past behind them and forge a new partnership in Africa.

He acknowledged that not only Europeans were to be blamed for the slave trade but Africans who also offered their brothers and sisters for sale were equally blameable and used the occasion to call for reconciliation.

Two museum educators (tour guides), Essel Blankson and Ato Eshun, took the delegation round the two castles at Elmina and Cape Coast, told them the history and pointed out various sections of the castle, the dungeons, cannon turrets and white-washed walls.

The Congress delegation were able to hear about and pay homage to those ripped from Africa and scattered throughout the Diaspora.

As they held hands together, they laid two wreaths, one at the Elmina Castle and the other at Cape Coast Castle.

They also performed a symbolic hand-washing with water fetched from the Assin Manso River, about 30 kilometres away from the coast, which was the final place where all captured slaves were bathed before being marched in chains to the two castles and other forts built by Europeans along the coast for their onward journey to America and the Caribbean.

The moment of cleansing evoked emotions among members of the delegation, some of whom shed tears in the process.

A minute’s silence was observed for departed souls during the trade.