For too long, the engagement between Africa and the Caribbean has been via third parties.
This is according to President of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, who has called for direct collaboration between the two regions.
He was speaking at a joint press conference held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, where the Ministers of Foreign Affairs from both countries signed two Memoranda of Understanding aimed at establishing a joint commission, and deepening political consultation.
President Kenyatta emphasized that Africa and the Caribbean needed to work together to create justice, opportunities and prosperity for their people.
“For far too long our engagement as Africa and the Caribbean has been via third parties. We have recognized that that has been one-way traffic. We need now to strengthen our own direct collaboration, Africa and the Caribbean, and on a larger global scale, more South-South Cooperation, that is led by the needs and interests of the people that we represent,” he said.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley endorsed the President’s comments, adding that she believed the opportunities for Barbados and Kenya to cooperate were “bountiful”.
Indicating the President’s visit confirmed to her that Barbados was on the “right track” in forging better relations with Kenya, she said: “We understand that while we have both been victims at different times in our history of common obstacles and exploitation, that we have within us the power to forge a common destiny not because of history alone, but because it makes sense to the prosperity of our people.”
Prime Minister Mottley said both Barbados and Kenya were “highly independent” and “punched above their weight” in their respective regions. “We understand that our obligations are not only limited to the people within our boundaries, but to the region and the neighbourhood in which we live,” she noted.
During bilateral talks, both sides agreed to deepen cooperation in business, manufacturing, education, tourism, the blue economy and health. There was also discussion about establishing a direct airlink from Kenya to Barbados, something the Prime Minister saw as critical to uniting and strengthening the African and Caribbean regions.
“The notion that the only thing that separates us is sea, and not unfriendly territory, is something that boggles the mind. There are no other two sets of neighbours that would not naturally travel to each other.
“We have allowed three to four centuries of separation to divide us and we are committed now to bridging that divide and ensuring that the Atlantic Ocean should not be regarded as the mechanism for the middle passage and triangular trade to lead to the decimation of a race, but it shall be regarded as a platform for prosperity for people of Africa and her diaspora,” Prime Minister Mottley stressed.
President Kenyatta added: “We have agreed that we will not lead from the rear; we will lead from the front. We want to be the pioneers. We want to give the political will that is necessary to ensure that we bring our people closer together.” Barbados and Kenya established diplomatic relations in 2014.