Prof. Banji Akintoye, a Yoruba leader and head of Yoruba Nation Self-Determination Struggle has apologised to the victims of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in Yorubaland.
According to Akintoye who is a professor of History, some of the victims of the slave trade placed a curse on the future generation of Yoruba people for colluding with the Whites to sell them into slavery back then.
This was contained in an open letter to the Yoruba people which he personally signed and made available to journalists through his Communications Office, on Sunday.
Akintoye said “the Holy Spirit told him that the spirits of those our forefathers sold for peanuts to Portuguese and Dutch people as slaves are behind the lack of growth, development, progress, peace and unity in Yorubaland, and among the Yoruba people.”
He said the unholy collaboration between the then leaders of the Yoruba people and the Portuguese and Dutch businessmen who came to Africa for the business of slave trade in 18th century led to the selling of many into slavery and great agony.
He said over one million Africans, including the Yoruba people, were exported to Europe and America as Slaves by Europeans, who brought salt to Africa in 18th Century through Porto Novo and Whydan Kingdom in the present-day Benin Republic through the collaboration of some local warriors.
“The curses placed on the Yoruba people by victims of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, many of whom jumped into the Atlantic Ocean during their forced trips to Europe and America, needs to be cleansed in order for the Yoruba people to enjoy God’s favour, cohesion, unity and progress.
“Predating colonialism and slavery in Africa in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Yoruba race had engaged in internal conflicts, resulting in marauding, intra-tribal and internecine warfare. Historians mostly agree that such civil unrest did not result in commercialization of human captives until the era of colonialism and slave trade on African soil. Yet, we have to agree that foreigners did not do this without the cooperation of some of the indigenous people, the Yoruba.
“According to the revelation referenced above, a segment of the captive Yoruba sons and daughters hauled into slavery looked back and placed a curse on the land and the people that violated their humanity by selling them into slavery.
“Furthermore, Holy Spirit revealed that some among the Yoruba captives committed suicide by jumping off the captive ships into their deaths deep into the Atlantic Ocean, while others simply placed the curse and endured the shame by continuing the captive’s journey. For this, the need for reconciliation and unreserved apologies is real and past due.
“Against this backdrop of the atrocity of historical proportions unleashed against the peoples of Black Africa, which escalated into full-blown slavery, the current generation of the Yoruba seeks to tender an unreserved, heart-felt apology on behalf of our past generations of forefathers, monarchs and chiefs who participated in slavery.
“Also, those who folded their hands in helplessness and hopelessness, those who looked the other way when they could have spoken or stood against the perpetrators of this heinous crime against humanity, and those who cooperated and/or benefitted from the sales of their brothers and sisters, children, parents, friends and neighbors.
“Words alone cannot atone for the immeasurable amount of suffering endured by our brothers and sisters during the forceful passages into the New World as they entered the narrow passage that ushered them into the journey of no return. Yet, words have to be offered to express remorse, regret and above all, to ask for forgiveness that could only come from the heart, and straight from the throne of grace.”
According to Akintoye, although the crime was committed many years ago, the effect of the bitterness might still be the reason for lack of unity and development in Yorubaland.
“Having said all that, we say it from the bottom of our hearts that we sincerely understand if you still nurse the hurt and feel the pain; after all, years may heal the wound, but the scar may always remain. All we can say is to appeal that you please forgive our forefathers on whose behalf we tender these apologies; and to forgive us as offspring of our erring progenitors.
“May God bless you, lighten your burdens, redeem time for you and generations to come after you and heal our land. Above all, may the Lord of the Universe forgive the Yoruba race and move it into a new dispensation in its onward march towards the attainment of redemption and enjoyment of its potential, Amen,” he added.
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