THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA
ADDRESS BY THE GAMBIAN HONOURABLE ATTORNEY GENERAL
AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR JUSTICE,
HONOURABLE JOSEPH HENRY JOOF
AT THE WORLD CONFERENCE ON RACISM, RACIAL DISCRIMINATION,
AND RELATED INTOLERANCE
3rd SEPTEMBER 2001
Permit me first on behalf
of His Excellency President Yahya Jammeh, the government and people of the Gambia,
on my own humble behalf and on behalf of the Gambian delegation which accompanies
me, I wish to extend to His Excellency President Thabo Mbeki, his family, the
government and people of the beautiful country of South Africa our condolences
on the passing away of his Excellency's father, Mr. Govan Mbeki. We salute him
and all those who made great sacrifices to free the S.A. people and the dignity
of African and the African people and those in the diaspora. The timing whether
by chance or design is testimony again to his great commitment to ensure that
racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are wiped
out of the daily lives not only of South Africans but of people the world over.
He has very clearly passed on the baton. Long live his memory and God bless
his family and the people of South Africa. Let me also seize this opportunity
to thank the United Nations and its Secretary General Kofi Annan and the UN
High Commissioner for Human Rights and the whole UN system for organizing this
conference. It is so timely and relevant. I also thank the government and the
people of South Africa for hosting it and everyone else.
Madam President, your Excellencies
, distinguished ladies and gentlemen it gives me great pleasure on behalf of
the president of the Republic of Gambia Alhagie Dr. Yahya Jammeh to make a statement
on this most relevant and epoch making conference.
Racism, racial discrimination
xenophobia and elated intolerance are subjects which black Africans in particular
are also familiar with that they are like red and white corpuscles in the blood
stream which are ever ready and always on the look out to defend the system
against any intruder or trouble.
Black people and Africans
have suffered greatly down the centuries from racism, racial discrimination,
xenophobia and related intolerance from Whites, Arabs, Indians, Latin Americans,
to mention a few. Even before the advent of the slave trade which lasted for
over four or five centuries and is more practiced in more discrete forms today,
black people were looked down upon by people of other colours, maltreated, abused,
insulted, belittled and subjected to heinous crimes and offences in all spheres
The "Man Friday"
syndrome popularized in Robinson Crusoe was not a sudden occurrence of the slave
trade era. The slave trade was the high point of centuries of racial discrimination,
racism xenophobia and related intolerance which brought about the weakening,
subjugation segregation, harassment and discrimination of the black man and
woman who being universally perceived as worthless except as a servile domestic,
suffered the final insult of being formally sold, bought, loaned and used, raped,
killed, tortured, thrown into the high seas, suffocated, fed to the lions and
other wild beasts in hundreds of millions by Europeans, Americans, Arabs, Indians,
Asians and other colours and over the centuries with impunity and without questions
being asked of how a friendly, extremely tolerant and friendly race could be
reduced so low. Where were all the great priests, men and women, religious people
and human conscience? The brutalisation and enslavement of the black race, was
one of the most demeaning indictments on the human race which was eventually
outlawed formally because of the hard blow to the conscience of so many people
guilty of practising slavery or associated with the heinous crime one way or
Various speakers have mentioned
the extent to which people of the world went to justify this crime.
It lasted so long because
of the social, economic and religious structures put in place to consolidate
and perpetuate the crime.
It was sought to be justified
intellectually, scientifically, economically, politically, religiously, culturally.
Racism and racial discrimination were also practiced against black Africans
and those of black African descent in the literature, history and sociology
books of the English and other languages, in the films, paintings and everywhere.
In all these passive and active sympathisers sought to justify the crime but
failed in the end.
And it is a travesty to
say that slavery was stopped by some Europeans. It was rejected, rebelled against
by its victims first and its abolition accelerated by those nations and peoples
who had been involved in it. It was a war of conscience, first won in the minds
and then only in practice.
It is not good enough therefore
to say we should forgive and forget about one of the greatest acts of genocide,
of inhumanity by man against his fellowman and the cause of the greatest socio-economic
retrogression that has happened. Not before we put it in its right perspective
and make appropriate amends for it. It is only in so doing that the whole world
can finally do fair justice to the black people, Africans, Americans, and all
the descendants of slaves of centuries of slavery, colonial subjugation and
domination the effects of which are still visible throughout Africa and among
black people in the diaspora.
It is not good enough to
say that it will embarrass our friends or partners or for some who have inter-married
their relatives and children. That is not the point. We are dealing here with
an issue which goes beyond individuals or the relationship between friends or
donors and recipients and partners. We are talking about the greatest crime,
the biggest genocide, serious underdevelopment with little hope for progress
no matter how much effort we put into the development process.
Something terribly wrong
has been done and its repercussions will continue to be felt by black people
until the end of time in poverty, retrogression, more racism, more racial discrimination,
more xenophobia and more intolerance whether it is related to these or not.
This is the place. Now
is the time to say all about it and do something about it. Talk openly, all
the way, on every aspect of it. Otherwise I do not believe that talking about
it again later, little by little, softly, softly or diplomatically will solve
it. Diplomacy never solved the real issues in South Africa or anywhere else,
nor will it when the chips are down. Let us not be too worried about who will
be compensated and how. That can certainly be worked out in due course. Let
us agree that:
a) Slavery and colonialism were racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the result of these.
b) Let us agree here in Durban that as a result of these millions of blacks in Africa and in the diaspora were killed, maimed, brutalized, chained, dehumanized, abused and forcefully migrated.
c) Let us agree that this was genocide.
d) Let us agree that this cost Africa and African descendants losses in billions in human and material resources and denied them great benefits.
e) Let us agree that it is immaterial that some Africans and people of African descent were involved in the trafficking of slaves and in facilitating colonization. Two wrongs don't make a right.
f) Let us agree that reparation, redress and compensation are in place.
g) Let us determine the forms that reparation and compensation will take.
h). Let us agree that no plan whether Omega or any other African plan will have the slightest chance of success no matter how many promises the International Community gives until we receive reparation in forms to be worked.
i) Let us agree distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, that the magnitude of the reparation and compensation should correspond with the magnitude, the gravity and longevity of the crimes of slavery and colonization and continued racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
j) Let us, I beg you distinguished ladies and gentlemen, agree in Durban to put in place, international and domestic institutions to outlaw slavery, colonization, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
k) Let us ensure that the worlds financial and other institutions which are supposed to assist member countries and bring peace, justice and developments such as UN bodies, the IMF, World Bank and other international bodies are not in any way hijacked by people who seek instead to foster and encourage subtle and other forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance by linking unduly the assistance of support to ideas and other policies which may in the end be seen and may have some basis in racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Finally your excellencies,
distinguished ladies and gentlemen let us agree and resolve to leave Durban
cleansed from these ills to ensure that we fight for their eradication at home,
Regionally and Internationally, in Government and out of it when we return.
Let us seek for universal
co-operation in this fight, let us say as they put it, Never, and Never again
to slavery and colonialism.
Let all our backs and the
backs of all the people of the world be turned against racism, racial discrimination,
xenophobia and related intolerance so that
- we can live to posterity,
- a world filled with peace,
- a world filled with equalities,
- a world filled with justice,
- a world truly made of sons and daughters of one Adam and Eve.,
- and to practise the love thy neighbour principle.
I thank you all.