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Department of Political Science


In the last ten years, a worldwide movement has emerged for reparations to various previously subordinated groups for past wrongs. This paper discusses the movement for reparations to the continent of Africa. It begins with a discussion of the United Nations-sponsored World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa, in September 2001. It then traces the discussion of reparations to Africa back to the Group of Eminent Persons (GEP) established in the early 1990s by the Organization of African Unity to pursue reparations for slavery and (perhaps) other wrongs perpetrated on Africa. Only three members of this group are still active: they are J. F. Ade Ajayi, Ali A. Mazrui, and Dudley Thompson. The present author interviewed all three in December 2002. An essay by J. F. Ade Ajayi is included in this volume.

After discussion of the GEP, this essay looks at precedents for the demand for reparations to Africa. It closes with an assessment of the likelihood that a large social movement for reparations will develop.


This article was originally published in Cahiers d’études africaines, 44(1-2), 173-174:81-97. © 2004 by Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann. Reproduced with permission.