|Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley (head of table), in discussion with members of the new Board of the Commission for Pan-African Affairs.
The Commission for Pan-African Affairs’ Mabalozi Programme came in for high praise recently when the Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, met with the new Board to discuss his vision and their plans for the future.
Mr. Lashley told the board members that he was "impressed" with the programme which was designed to educate primary and secondary school children about the importance of things African and help build their self-esteem.
Teachers are trained within the Mabalozi Programme to be Africentric Ambassadors and they serve as the Commission’s official representatives for building Africentric awareness, and promoting African-centred education at their schools.
However, the minister expressed the view that there was a need to forge trade linkages and cultural exchanges between Barbados and the African continent. He continued: "… One of our weak points is that we have not yet established direct air linkages between the continent and Barbados… That is something we have to try to look at… I understand there is a history of effort in that respect and I think we need to dust off those papers and see where we are at, engaging with the relevant Ministries,-Foreign Affairs and Tourism-, because I believe we should be at the forefront of such an initiative."
Dr. Erskine Simmons is the chairman of the new Board, while his deputy is Dennis McIntosh and the other members are Rodney Headley, Petrona Holder, Claire Millington, Cavil Best, Stacey Cummins and Dr. Ivan Henry. The two-year appointment took effect on April 11, 2011.
The Commission was formally launched on November 25, 1998, and Mr. Lashley noted that there were still doubts in some persons’ minds as to its relevance and purpose. He stressed, however, that the Board’s reappointment was testimony
to Government’s view that there was a role for the organisation and he underscored the need for the Board and staff to "talk more about what the Commission is doing".
Minister Lashley urged the Commission to partner more with youth-based organisations. "… The relevance of institutions such as this Commission will be more felt if they become germane to what young people are engaging in," he suggested.