Saturday, March 2, 2024

Gambian Historian Calls for Reintegration of Enslaved Africans 

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By: Dawda Baldeh

According to, around 12 million Africans were enslaved in the course of the transatlantic slave trade. Between 1640 and 1807, British ships transported about 3.4 million Africans across the Atlantic. Out of that number, 450,000 died on the Atlantic crossing, while most of those who survived were transported to London, Bristol, and Liverpool.

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During this period, babies were sold separately from their biological parents. Husbands, wives and children were divided and scattered, never to see, know or encounter one another again in many instances. Records of the enslaved people were not kept which makes it difficult for them to trace back their origin, ethnic groups and culture.

There is an Automatical African Citizenship campaign calling on African leaders and governments to grant them citizenship like Ghana did in 2019.

Speaking exclusively to The Fatu Network, Juliet Ryan, the Founder of Blaxit, said the Automatic African citizenship campaign is for them to be seen as Africans and not to be treated as non-Africans.

“Our ancestors were taken from West Africa. We lost our language, identity, culture, family, inheritance,” emotional Juliet explained.

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Contrary to what some people perceived about the descendants, Juliet said they are urging African governments to reduce the number of years for one to be a citizen.

“We are not saying this without following due process. We are your lost family members, and we should be welcomed not rejected,” she said.

Juliet, whose Gambian name is Nyancho Kujabi, pleaded to Gambians to give them the necessary support for their integration.

In The Gambia, for one to be granted citizenship, he/she must be a resident in the country for a period not less than fifteen years.

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Responding to this constitutional requirement, Juliet added, they are urging the Gambian government to consider reducing this.

She equally called on African leaders to support their reintegration and emulate Ghana’s move.

She described the comments by some people regarding their plea as heartbreaking, saying they shouldn’t be rejected.

Ms. Ryan said they are not coming with bare hands, noting that they will invest, create jobs, skills, and help in developing the country.

“We have transferable skills that can be used to help build the infrastructure and work to bring knowledge together. The draconianal laws are still keeping us apart. We are asking for these laws to be addressed.

My meeting with President Adama Barrow was emotional because never thought I will meet an African president in my life. It gave me hope to push harder for us to achieve the goals of the automatic citizenship campaign. It was a life-changing experience for me,” she described.

She added that the meeting was a step in the right direction but that they want to move making progress in the citizenship campaign.

For Ms. Ryan, Africa needs to re-educate its people to change the narrative and tell its history in a better way for the continent to realise its power.

Ms. Juliet added that Africa is the home of their ancestors who were forcefully taken from the continent against their will.

She revealed that they are restricted in terms of purchasing land. This she noted is not done to any Gambian in the United Kingdom.

It is stated that the reintegration of African descendants will create employment opportunities, boost tourism and increase income revenue for any county.

Hassoum Ceesay, a Gambian historian, writer and museum curator at the Gambia National Museum, called on Gambians and Africans to welcome the reintegration of African Descendants.

“They are our African brothers and sisters; therefore, all hands should be on deck to welcome them to the mother continent.”

The 51-year-old historian described the descendants as skilful and knowledgeable people who can help in transforming the continent to the next level.

“Wherever you are, as long as you are black, you are an African,” Hassoum Ceesay emphasized.

Mr. Ceesay said Gambia is the home of Kunta Kinteh and the bastion of Pan-Africanism through Edward Francis Small and the National Council for British West Africa.

He said plans are underway for revising the roots festival, adding that African descendants will be in the middle of the organization so that the Gambia will continue to be a home pilgrimage for the descendants.

“We want to start in 2023 with the festival to mark two hundred years of the British occupation of George Island where the liberated Africans were settled.”

Ghana is the first country in Africa to grant automatic citizenship to the African Descendants on 27 November 2019. They granted citizenship to over 100 African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans as part of the “year of return” which marks 400 years since the anchoring of an English ship in Jamestown, Virginia in the United States carrying small groups of enslaved Africans.

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