UN Under-Secretary General connects with spirits of African ancestors

1.21460030 Dr Natalia Kanem, UN Under-Secretary General, and Executive Director of the UNFPA

Wed, 20 Apr 2022 Source: GNA

Dr Natalia Kanem, UN Under-Secretary-General, and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), looked sombre as she took the symbolic "First Bath of Return" at the Assin Manso Ancestral Slave River Site in the Central Region as part of her five-day visit to Ghana.

The bath in the Donkor Nsuo (Slave River) symbolises spiritual cleansing, forgiveness, and connection with the spirits of African ancestors who were victims of the transatlantic slave trade.

Dr Kanem, who is the UN Secretary-General's Champion to further the agenda of people of African heritage, visited the site together with the Vice President of Costa Rica, Madam Epsy Campbell Barr and other officials at the UNFPA to have a feel of one of the darkest chapters of Africa's history - the transatlantic slave trade.

Their visit, dubbed: "The Return Mission," is to advance and promote the rights of People of African Descent.

The Assin Manso Ancestral Slave River Park was one of the largest slave markets for gathering people to sell into slavery during the infamous trans-Atlantic slave trade.

It was the final link in the slavery route from northern Ghana and was known to have been the largest slave market for merchants supplying slaves on the forts and castles on the coast.

It was also the site where the slaves, after taking their last bath, were branded, using hot metals to mark them for easy identification by their owners before they were taken to the castles for onward transportation to Europe or America.

Dr Kanem removed her sandals and walked barefoot down a path to the Donkor Nsuo that runs through a bamboo grove.

After being briefed by a tour guide on the significance of the River in the history of the slave trade, Dr Kanem sat on a rock at the banks of the River and washed her feet and hands twice to signify that she had been spiritually cleaned and bonded with the spirits of her ancestors.

Earlier, she laid a wreath at the Ancestral Graveyard, where the returned remains of three diasporans had been buried.

She also wrote her name on the Memorial Wall of Return - where most Africans write their names on the wall indicating they had found their root.

Dr Kanem commended the people of Assin Manso for "safeguarding a heritage that makes the difference."

She said the history of the contributions of Africans and Africans in the diaspora to the development of the world in all sectors must be known and highlighted.

"Coming from Africa and being of African heritage myself, it is an opportunity for us to unearth the history of the creativity of the contributions of the high intelligence that so many of our ancestors within Africa and Africans in the diaspora have applied for the benefit of humanity as a whole," Dr Kanem said.

Madam Campbell Barr, after washing her feet and hands, said she was happy and sad about the experience.

"I feel sad because the past is so sad for our ancestors but happy because we are doing the work. We are working for the people and we are reunited as African people," she said.

The team also toured the Elmina Castle - an important monument in the history of the slave trade as it served as a fortress used by slave traders starting from the 17th century.

Dr Kanem and Madam Campbell Barr laid a wreath each in the dungeon where slaves were kept at the Castle before they were transported to Europe and America.

Dr Kanem will on Friday, April 22, 2022, convene a high-level forum in Accra to promote the rights of the People of African Descent.

The forum precedes this year’s International Day for People of African Descent, which will be observed on 31st August 2022.

Source: GNA
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