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PM Pierre Reiterates Emancipation Day Promise of Annual Observance of Island’s African Heritage

Saint Lucia supports call for Annual CARICOM-African Union Summit

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By Earl Bousquet, Special for The VOICE

PRIME Minister Philip J. Pierre yesterday placed Saint Lucia’s stamp of approval on proposed plans by Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the African Union (AU) for an Annual Summit to promote cooperation between African and Caribbean people and states.

The Saint Lucia PM was among CARICOM leaders who addressed yesterday’s historic first CARICOM-AU Online Summit, hosted by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Brown.

The meeting had long been a work-in-progress and yesterday it brought together the leaders and the continental and regional entities that together represent 79 nations and over two billion people, to examine areas of increased communication, and cooperation, to face common challenges and grab common opportunities.

The Caribbean and African leaders identified several areas of possible cooperation – from the fight against COVID 19 to sharing of experiences and natural resources to together improve the lot of people on the continent and the region.

President Kenyatta and all other African and Caribbean leaders who spoke noted the historicity of the event — the first time African and Caribbean leaders met in a shared space since the establishment of the Pan African Congress in the 1900s and a subsequent congress in Manchester in 1945.

Many speakers also referred to the summit as achievement of a dream of Marcus Garvey and Nelson Mandela and nurtured by Bob Marley; and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley also referring to the contributions of the likes of Trinidad & Tobago’s George Padmore, CLR James and Eric Williams to earlier Caribbean-African connections.

CARICOM leaders who spoke included PMs of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Brown, Barbados’ Mia Mottley, Belize’s Don Briceno, Dominica’s Roosevelt Skerrit, Guyana’s President Irfan Ali, Jamaica’s PM Andrew Holness, Saint Lucia’s Philip J. Pierre, St. Vincent & the Grenadines’ Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Trinidad & Tobago’s Dr Rowley.

African presentations were by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Presidents of Angola, Malawi, Rwanda and Zimbabwe, plus the Vice President of Tanzania.

The Saint Lucia PM, addressing his first global forum of this nature since taking office on July 28, recalled announcing in his August 1, 2021 inaugural Annual Emancipation Day address that his administration plans ‘to take the Caribbean’s real African History to schools and to make Emancipation Day a major annual event.’

Recalling that speech he delivered ‘only four days after taking office,’ PM Pierre also reiterated, ‘As I said then, we strongly believe that while Slavery was abolished over a century ago, the mindset and racial attitudes that brought African people to the Caribbean and the Americas still linger.

He also assured the historic first gathering of African and Caribbean leaders that, under his watch, ‘Saint Lucians will have good reason to remember the struggles of our forefathers, while preserving and protecting the heritage they left us.’

PM Pierre also noted the summit was held more than a century after Emancipation, but also said: ‘It’s never too late to start…’

He said Saint Lucia supported plans to increase the fight against ‘vaccine inequality’ by providing platforms for manufacturing and distribution in the wider region and welcomed sharing of experiences between Africa and the Caribbean, to share COVID-19 experiences and expertise.

He noted that with the region ‘having to import ten times more pharmaceuticals than we produce regionally,’ Saint Lucia supported the related initiative recently-announced by PAHO and the WHO.

The PM said Saint Lucia also supported calls for cooperation in the fight against Climate Change’s effects and was looking forward to the upcoming COP 26th Global Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Scotland ‘to help secure the safety of the planet.’

Pierre said Saint Lucia also supports efforts by the G-77 and China to improve the lot of the developing countries and noted the African Union’s Vision 63 accord was also in line with CARICOM’s adherence to achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Calling for unity to pursue the visions outlined by speakers, PM Pierre said ‘Divisions only delay progress’ and urged fellow leaders to unite in common purpose to achieve objectives.

The vast majority of the speakers expressed support for the summit to be held annually and the summit mandated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kenya to work with other stakeholders to present a list of proposals, in six months, for consideration for an agenda for the second Caricom-AU Summit.

The meeting also embraced a call by PM Brown for September 7 to be designated annually by CARICOM and the AU as AFRICA-CARIBBEAN Day.

September 7, 2021

1 Comment

  1. An old teacher’s comment of encouragement to the progress of a budding student;

    Very good!

    It is, indeed, commendable that the children have found their mother.

    Though, throughout the centuries following the carrying of Africans into the captivity of slavery, African peoples and their Caribbean siblings
    Have existed in a nebulous form of estrangement

    Their Caribbean brethren, having drunk at the breast of European and American surrogates quickly (as a matter of survival) abandoned the ways of their African culture; and, in large part, repudiated their relation to “them Africans” by straightening their hair with a hot comb or other cosmetic preparations.

    And, the Africans, as much estranged from their Caribbean family regarded the West Indian or African-American as the bastard race;

    mixed people having a form of “Africanism” but denying the power, integrity and might of their common African ancestry.

    Since the 1960’s children of the African diaspora have turned their footsteps homeward. Somehow, they found the courage and strength to shout loud;

    I’M BLACK AND I’M PROUD

    Miraculously, Black people all over the world heard the drumbeats, cast away the straightening combs, washed the perms out of their hair, stood up boldly in every public space and echoed back the freedom of their tired souls.

    The weft and woof of Marcus Garvey’s tapestry of African hegemony became stitched with quilting from the deft fingers of Malcolm X, Rap Brown, Angela Davis, Martin Luther kIng (jr.), Harry Belafonte, Bob Marley and millions of Negro activists who designed and forged new paths to lead all the children of mother Africa back to their nascent consciousness of “Africanism”

    So the dashiki; the Afro hair; the un-combed kinky locks shouted loudly in the face of their white detractors.

    We have found the way out of the morass of lies you used to rob us of our selfhood.

    You almost made us believe that our flat nose and thick lips
    are testament to our relation to apes.
    Now your rusted shackles are broken.

    From today and forever we are determined to reconstruct our destiny with the strong rocks of the righteousness you long denied us-

    justice, judgement, truth and equity,

    knowledge, wisdom and understanding,

    compassion and kindness,

    This Afro/Caribbean alliance has certainly come into being for such a time as this. Black conscious has come to the birth this century and one hopes that the midwives of this alliance are capable of delivering security, social and economic stability out of this Black generation pregnant with pent up hope.

    While the Negro race still totters along the stumbling blocks of racism, and poverty, there is, especially among generation X, a visible movement of dry bones coming alive from the breath of Black selfhood

    The objective for the Afro/Caribbean coalition is ;

    How do we channel our faculties to utilize the trove of intellect and talent present among the African race of this generation?

    We do this by:

    1. Examining the collective bad
    habits of the Negro race that
    pits us against our own
    progress ( We know them)

    2. Developing methods and
    strategies of self control.
    Any successful venture stands
    on the three pillars of
    accountability, oversight and
    rehabilitation.
    The old people taught us – Don’t let a little sore turn into a grievous wound.

    If the Afro/Caribbean coalition is serious about renewing the minds of Africans both in the homeland and in the diaspora by obliterating the lingering stigma of black inferiority, then, the old teacher would beam with pride at the budding student

    Very good!

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