European Christian Leaders Apologise to Africa

Harare, Zimbabwe - THE visiting European delegation of Christian leaders has formally apologised to Africa for crimes committed during the slave trade era and colonisation of the continent.

The confessions were made before hundreds of delegates who included former Mozambican president Mr Joachim Chissano, Science and Technology Development Minister Dr Olivia Muchena and President of the Council of Chiefs, Chief Fortune Charumbira.

Also present at the occasion were 24 representatives of African countries.

Christian leaders from European countries which include Britain, Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands and the United States made the confessions.

It was a touching moment when the Christian leaders knelt before Mr Chissano and his delegation asking for forgiveness for the sins committed against Africa with some of them weeping.

They asked for forgiveness over the slave trade, exploitation of Africa using divide and rule tactics, fueling of conflicts and the shedding of innocent blood.

The Christian leaders acknowledged that most of the problems in Africa today emanated from colonialism.

Confessions were made over the torture and denigrating of Africans as well as the introduction of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Chairperson of the European African Reconciliation Process, Mr Chris Seaton, who confessed on behalf of Britain, asked for pardon for the sins committed by Britain against Zimbabwe during the colonial era.

Mr Seaton was wrapped in the Union Jack, which was hoisted when Zimbabwe was colonised.

He said the plunder of Africa's resources culminated in unfair trade practices that were currently dogging the continent.

Mr Seaton said in Zimbabwe, Britons cheated King Lobengula into signing the Rudd Concession in 1888, which resulted in white settler farmers occupying vast tracts of land at the expense of the black majority.

"We repent for taking rather than giving. Taking the riches and the lands of Africa. We repent for dehumanising Africans, treating them as goods, calling them black ivory.

"We repent for robbing Africans of their history and identity. Today we ask for forgiveness in Jesus' name before you and God," he said.

In response, Mr Chissano said he was humbled by the gesture demonstrated by the Christian leaders.

"I wish I had the mandate to ask for forgiveness as well because most of the sins committed by Europeans were not committed by them alone," he said amid applause from the floor.

"It is symbolic that this year's event is taking place in Zimbabwe, a country that is suffering the effects of unjust international relations, in which the mighty impose their will at will, a vivid reminder of colonialism," he said.

The former Mozambican leader said he hoped the reconciliation process would encourage Zimbabweans to come together as a united nation to overcome the challenges facing the country.

It was a pity, Mr Chissano said, that most Europeans were defensive when confronted with the consequences of colonialism saying that colonialism had gone and the reasons for African backwardness should be found only in bad governance and corruption.