???Too many of our people appear not to be comfortable in their own skins.???

This comment came from Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, as he addressed the weekend launch of the International Decade for People of African Descent, at the National Union of Public Workers.

Mr. Lashley expressed the view that some of the major issues facing Barbadian youth today stemmed from a lack of identity awareness, and stated that ???here in Barbados, we are aware of the levels of crime and violence???research shows that much of this is linked to the question of identity???.

According to the Minister, Government has not only acknowledged the problem but has already begun to enact solutions. He indicated that through the Commission for Pan African Affairs, a programme called Mabolozi was created in various primary and secondary schools, to help students ???recognise and accept their African ancestry???.

In addition to a focus on Afrocentrism, Mr. Lashley noted that Endless Possibilities, a job placement programme offered by the Division of Youth, also sought to empower young Barbadians.

He also recognised the efforts made by the Commission for Pan African Affairs through the Social Identity Renewal and Uplifting Strategy (SIRUS) Programme, designed to combat the issue of identity through approaches to Afrocentric empowerment.

However, Mr. Lashley charged that even as Government sought to reduce the high numbers of delinquent and wayward youth, there was still a need for other entities to play a role. He admitted that the Government of Barbados ???cannot do it alone??? but needed the participation of members of society.

The International Decade for People of African Descent was instituted to promote respect, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for people of African Descent. It began on January 1, 2015, and will run until December 31, 2024.


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