This morning’s tree-planting ceremony at the 254-acre National Botanical Gardens is being viewed as a historic symbolic reunification between Barbados and Kenya.
President of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta stated: “I am truly honoured by this invitation not only just to visit Barbados, but for the ceremony…. It is historic in its symbolism, but is also part of a spiritual journey that brings the people of the African continent slowly back together again.
“It’s like a family coming together after many years of being forcefully separated, so being here is to me ultimately the highlight of my trip, where I commemorate this moment by planting the ceremonial tree.”
The Kenyan President declared that he wanted to be a part of what the Government of Barbados was trying to achieve at the National Botanical Gardens and requested that two acres of land be allocated to his country, whereby both country’s Ministries of Environment could work together and “develop a tiny little corner on the island that reflects the spirit of their African roots…[and] fuse both parts of our natural habitat with our arts that can be displayed at this site.
“To always be a constant reminder that never again shall we be apart as we have been these years, that we are connected and that we are joined together and that we are brothers and sisters of one father and one mother that is Africa.”
Speaking of his kindred connection to Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, President Kenyatta noted that both he and the Prime Minister seemed to be in each other’s head and that “our thoughts, our philosophy to life, to history, what we saw as our potential in the future arising from our past, the challenges that we saw but also the tremendous opportunities, somehow come together…and these last few days it’s been a most wonderful experience sitting side by side and behaving like long lost brothers and sister.”
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, in her remarks on the significance of the tree planting, asserted that she felt it was important that 20 to 40 years from now “the children in our midst should be able to come back to this spot and be able to know that the rekindling of the joint efforts to thwart what really has always been a consistent battle to subjugate and to subordinate our interests, that we rekindled at this point in this moment of 2019”.
Ms. Mottley stated that the Ministry of Environment and National Beautification would shortly unfold its plans to fully develop the gardens, which is not just a project for government, but a national project. She expressed the hope that young and old Barbadians would walk through the garden and be inspired when they visit the two-acre section developed by Kenya, and would want to travel to the 500,000-square kilometre country.
During his welcome, Minister of Environment and National Beautification, Trevor Prescod, referred to Barbados as ‘little Africa’ and suggested that the timing of the Kenyan presidential visit was timely, as our nation had just celebrated Emancipation Day. Minister Prescod said he hoped that the tree planting would remain significant, and resonate in the hearts and minds of all Barbadian and Kenyan people.
President Kenyatta planted a Spathodea Campanulata tree, also known as an African Tulip, while Prime Minister Mottley planted a Swietenia Mahagoni, commonly referred to as a West Indian Mahogany tree. President Kenyatta was on a three-day official visit to Barbados, which aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.