Senegalese-American musician, philanthropist and business mogul Akon has urged African Americans to move past slavery and stop blaming the past for “every mishap”, claiming Senegal has moved on from that part of their history. He also encouraged them to move back to Africa where they can have their destinies in their own hands.
The Locked Up singer made those comments during an interview on VladTV when he was asked how Senegal feels about slavery and the involvement of African slave traders in the business. The 47-year-old musician spent most of his childhood in the West African nation.
“In Senegal, we’ve kind of overcome the thought of slavery, we don’t even think about it,” he said. “The only time we think about it, honestly, is when we’re doing tours at Goree Island. Outside of that, people have lived and moved way beyond the slavery concept and idea and mind state.”
According to some historians, the island of Goree was the largest slave-trading center on the African coast from the 15th to the 19th century. It was ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch, English and French.
During the course of their discussion, the interviewer reminisced on a trip to the musician’s home country where he said that experience was the first time he “felt Black people just felt comfortable with no type of ‘disease’”, to which the singer chimed in and said he “thinks it’s also the art of letting the past go and moving towards the future.”
He continued: “I think, in the U.S., they have this stigma of just not letting go of the past and blaming the past on every mishap or, you know, disappointment. And I think as long as you hold onto that past, there’s a lot of weight that you carry with you everywhere you go. And It’s hard to move forward and move fast when you got a weight on your back. You just gotta let it go.”
Touching on America paying reparations to atone for its slavery history, Akon said it’s unlikely that will happen as the initiative hasn’t even been taken.
“It’s not like America is going to take the initiative to do it, otherwise they would have did it already,” he said. “You know, Indians got reparations, the Jewish got reparations for the holocaust and it wasn’t even done in America.”
He added: “It’s to the point now where African Americans have to really understand their worth and realize that America was never or intended to ever consult or even make up for any of that. They’re not sorry. They don’t care. It’s obvious.”
The musician then went ahead to encourage African Americans to move back to Africa where they won’t be part of the minority.
“Do you want to stay here and continued to be treated this way? Or just go back home, where you’re not no longer the minority,” he said. “You actually are the majority, and you control your destiny, and your future, and your land.”
The interviewer also spoke on the need for Black people who had issues with how people are treated in the United States to visit Africa, to which Akon replied and said: “They need to. They just need to go … and they’re super Afraid to go” – suggesting it largely has to do with the myths and stereotypes about the continent.
“America did a good job at brainwashing,” he said. “The moment you mention Africa, they start shaking. They don’t even know why. It’s just fear … And the potential [in Africa] there is ridiculous.”