The Grantley Adams International Airport was a scene of pomp and ceremony, as Barbados welcomed Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo this morning.
Barbados was the last stop on the Ghanaian leader’s Year of the Return tour of the Caribbean, which is a landmark campaign targeting the African American and Caribbean diaspora, to mark 400 years of the first of the enslaved Africans arriving in the Americas, at Jamestown, Virginia.
After the president’s plane landed around 10:30 a.m., he was greeted on the red carpet by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who was accompanied by Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force Colonel Glyne Grannum and Deputy Commissioner of Police Erwin Boyce.
Also present to meet the dignitaries on the tarmac was Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Jerome Walcott and Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology, Senator Kay McConney.
Following the exchange of greetings, the Prime Minister and the president inspected the Barbados Defence Force troops, which was followed by a 21-gun salute and the playing of the Ghanaian national anthem. They were then ushered into the VIP lounge for a private meeting.
President Akufo-Addo was then driven to the Prime Minister’s residence at Ilaro Court where representatives of the two administrations engaged in bi-lateral talks.
But the highlight of the day was the Ghanaian president’s address to both Houses of Parliament, making him the first foreign head of state to do so.
In his speech, Akufo-Addo highlighted the importance of commemorating the defining moments of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, noting that as nations shaped by the horrors of that trade, it is important we learn from these mistakes and vow never to repeat them
He made the case that by joining Ghana in commemorating the Year of the Return Barbadians would be sending a strong message to the rest of the world that they too are committed to never repeating those mistakes that landed persons of African descent into servitude.
President Akufo-Addo declared: “We must be able to say that we are never going to put ourselves in that position again.
“A handful of European soldiers can walk into this vast continent and organise the abduction of 25 million of us, to be brought here in chains and work the plantations on their behalf. We have taken a very firm decision to commit ourselves to never be in that situation again.”
He added: “We think that by you joining us to commemorate this moment in Ghana would senda very powerful statement, that on both sides of the Atlantic, the people of African descent have made this commitment.