The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has said there can be no true emancipation with poverty, crime and violence.
He asked if people of African descent now enjoy real freedom if they are still dependent on others, still face bigotry and even as sportsmen and women, still suffer taunts on the sports field. “Freedom to wallow in poverty cannot be true emancipation,” he declared, while lamenting the accompanying racial discrimination and injustice.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II was speaking as the Guest of Honour at the Emancipation Day celebrations at the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.
The 16th monarch of the Asante Kingdom began his address by mourning the many lives lost to the trans-Atlantic slave trade between West Africa and the Americas including the Caribbean.
The Asantehene also hailed those who advocated African pride such as Marcus Garvey and Trinidad-born C.L.R. James, saying they inspired Ghana’s independence leader Kwame Nkrumah , South African freedom fighter and former Kenya president Nelson Mandela.
But he questioned the current status of African people and asked, “what is true emancipation?”
New universal declaration
Suggesting ways out of the challenges, the Asantehene stressed the need for African leaders to pursue a new universal declaration that racial discrimination be deemed a crime against humanity. Secondly, governments should educate youngsters about the great empires of the past.
Offering hope, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II said, “As King of a mighty warrior kingdom, I can assure you that the African spirit does not cow under adversity. If it were not so, we would have been wiped out from the face of the earth long before our time.” He said no one should steal the pride or falsify the heritage of Africans.
Emphasizing that the Asante forest was being depleted of trees, he said new opportunities now exist in the green economy. Without calling names, he opined, “We have every reason to believe Trinidad and Tobago is in safe hands and heading in the right direction.”