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US lawmakers in Ghana, mark 400 years since first slave shipment

US lawmakers in Ghana, mark 400 years since first slave shipment

Accra: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives in Ghana’s parliament to address legislators. — AP ACCRA: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the “grave evil” of slavery in a speech to Ghana’s parliament on Wednesday marking 400 years since the first shipment of enslaved Africans to America. Pelosi was leading a delegation including members of the Congressional Black Caucus to the West African country, four centuries after the first slave ship arrived in Jamestown, Virginia from the continent. The legislators visited the ‘Door of No Return’ at a slave fort on the coast from where people were dispatched in chains to the New World. “At the Elmina Castle we saw the dungeons where thousands were grotesquely tortured, and at the Cape Coast Castle we stood before the ‘Door of No Return,’ where countless millions caught their last glimpse of Africa before they were shipped to a life of enslavement,” she told Ghanaian MPs. “These profound places are sobering testament to humanity’s capacity for grave evil and also a helpful reminder of the capacity for great resilience, renewal and strength of the people.” The visit comes amid uproar back home over a string of verbal attacks by President Donald Trump on African-Americans that Democrats have labelled racist. Trump was heckled by a protester in Jamestown on Tuesday during a speech to mark 400 years since the founding of the first local legislature by English colonists. In it, he denounced the “horrors” of slavery. Ghana has designated 2019 the “Year of Return” both to commemorate the Africans forced into slavery and to encourage their descendants in the US to “come home”. The country is seen as a haven of stability in an often turbulent region. Pelosi praised its role in maintaining peace and providing an example of democracy.Trump said in remarks to members of Virginia’s General Assembly and other dignitaries that the United States has had many achievements in its history, but “none exceeds the triumph that we are here to celebrate today.” “Self-government in Virginia did not just give us a state we love in a very true sense it gave us the country we love, the United States of America,” he said. The General Assembly, considered the oldest continuously operating legislative body in North America, grew out of a gathering that convened in July 1619. But as Trump addressed the lawmakers and others in a tent on the lawn of a history museum near the site of the original Jamestown colony, members of Virginia’s legislative black caucus held an emotional ceremony about 60 miles away in Richmond, at the site of a once-notorious slave jail, where they took turns condemning the president. Del. Delores McQuinn, who refused to say Trump’s name and instead called him “the tenant in the White House,” choked back tears as she said his critiques of minority members of Congress were aimed at “every person of colour in the United States of America.” She urged the crowd to “reclaim the soul and fabric of this country.” Trump said as he departed the White House that lawmakers participating in the previously announced boycott were going “against their own people.” Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2019

US lawmakers in Ghana, mark 400 years since first slave shipment

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