Message for Africa Day by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Division of Culture, John King.

On May 25, 1963, history was made on the continent of Africa with the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Given the mandate to build solidarity between the African countries, this “Day” has been celebrated widely across the continent and its diaspora to signify Africa’s identity and unity.

The day gives us a chance to reflect on the progress Africa has made after years of pillage and colonial rule, while also coming together to find solutions to the challenges facing itself.

Formerly known as African Freedom Day or African Liberation Day, it has taken on greater significance within the diaspora as we seek to reconnect with our heritage and culture stripped from us during the period of legalised human trafficking, better known as the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

As we commemorate and celebrate, let us also pay homage to those visionary leaders and ancestors who were responsible for launching this initiative. Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure of Guinea and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, hosted by Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, whose famous words were “may this convention of union last 1,000 years”.

I am sure there are many unknown or little known contributors equally deserving of recognition.  However, the story of Africa is seldom shared with the diaspora through the lens of Africans, and we therefore say Ashe in remembrance of them.

After years of being described as the “dark” continent by European invaders, scholars all over the world continue to discover and shed “light” on Africa, the cradle of civilisation.

From the origins of mankind to the development of science, mathematics, engineering, architecture, iron works and of course spirituality, this vast and diverse community of cultures, languages and geographical terrain continues to be somewhat of a mystery to many people of the diaspora here in Barbados.

We can still hear the echoes of colonial brainwashing in the sentiments of those who would vehemently deny any connection to Africa.  We continue to see the bleaching of skin, straightening of hair or in some cases the changes of physical features identified as “African”.

The Division of Culture recognises that this residue of miseducation and misinformation will not be wiped away easily, but we endeavour to continue to create an environment that instills pride and promotes acceptance of the very best of ourselves as people of African descent.

To this end, we are in the process of developing activities, projects and programmes throughout the remainder of the year designed to educate all Barbadians about the African contribution past and present to world development.

It would be remiss of me to not salute our own Pan Africanists at home and across the region.  Your tireless and often misunderstood work and intentions cannot be understated or undervalued. To you, we say thanks and we pledge to strengthen our relationships as we work towards the common goal of restoration and reparations for our people. “Happy Africa Day!”

To our Rastafarian brothers and sisters, your struggle to reserve and preserve your rights to be African has inspired many. “Happy Africa Day!”

To all Africans who have made Barbados their home or those who intend to, we say “Happy Africa Day!”

To our Ghanaian nurses working tirelessly to keep us healthy we say “Happy Africa Day!”

To our European, Indian and Asian brothers and sisters we say “Happy Africa Day!”

Enjoy the various activities across the island, the region, continent and world.

“Happy Africa Day!”

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