May 01, 2000|By From Tribune News Services.
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA — Officials from the West African nation Benin apologized during a ceremony here for their country's role in once selling fellow Africans by the millions to white slave traders.
The group is making several stops in Virginia and Washington, D.C., to publicize President Mathieu Kerekou's recent apologies for his country's participation in the slave trade.
"We cry for forgiveness and reconciliation," said Luc Gnacadja, minister of environment and housing for Benin. "The slave trade is a shame, and we do repent for it."
Benin, a country of 4.7 million people, was called Dahomey in the 17th Century, when it was a major supplier of slaves for white exporters shipping from what was called the Slave Coast. Some accounts say Dahomey rounded up more than 3 million people for sale to slave traders.
Gnacadja spoke Saturday at a James River dock where, before the Civil War, slaves were shipped into Richmond, unloaded and marched across a bridge to downtown holding pens to await auction.