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African liberation- Today’s focus

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Once again Vincentians will today hold activities to commemorate African Liberation Day (ALD) with the focus being on Africa, the mother continent of the majority of the people who now inhabit the Caribbean. These ALD activities originated, in the Caribbean context in the early seventies, with our own country first staging them in 1974 with an historic march and rally in the rural belt.

How different were things then!{{more}} When we started commemorating African Liberation Day (ALD) here, the focus was on liberation in its most practical sense. That odious and inhuman system of apartheid was still entrenched in South Africa, Nelson Mandela and many of his heroic generation were firmly behind bars, giving rise to Bob Marley’s epic, “WAR”. Not only was racist oppression drenching South Africa in blood, it had also engulfed neighbouring Namibia and the tentacles of apartheid had also spread to Angola and Mozambique, colonies of Western Europe’s poorest and most backward country, Portugal.

So in 1974, above all else, “liberation” meant the struggle to and apartheid, colonialism and racism in Southern Africa and in the Portuguese colony of Guinea-Bissau in West Africa. It was a time of rising black consciousness in the Caribbean and North America so the “liberation” idea caught on and spread like wild fire among the youth of the region. So much so that for years, well into the early eighties, ALD activities was of the high points of the local calendar.

Not that there was overwhelming acceptance or appreciation. Even as many of the radicalised youth, imbibing Nkrumah and Fanon, virtually worshipping Mandela and linking the liberation struggle in Africa with our own struggle for independence in the Eastern Caribbean, so too was there resistance. Those who either did not comprehend or, under colonial influence, refused to accept the identification, objected. There were statements of denial of African ancestry and placing distance between the Caribbean and the struggle for Africa’s freedom.

Fortunately we have come a long way since. Mandela not only marched out of prison but marched apartheid out of South Africa. Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Guinea Bissau achieved their independence and are today sovereign states. So, we may ask, what is the purpose of today’s African Liberation Day activities in SVG and the Caribbean? Are they irrelevant, a relic of the past? Or do they still have some contemporary merit and relevance?

Africa today is still a continent of unfulfilled potentiality. Its tremendous resources physical, human and spiritual are still not being placed at the service of the development of the African people. Africa is still the victim of international plunder as those resources are brazenly looted, often with the complicity of many African leaders for the benefit of those who have historically profited from it. The results are bared before our eyes: disease-ridden, starving millions, often in refugee camps fleeing from the carnage wrought by Western arms. The picture is one of backwardness and suffering, evoking both pity from us but also a contradictory affirmation in us that “we are not like THEM”. Those most responsible for the rape of Africa successfully pin the blame on those leaders and soldiers in Africa who collaborate with them in the rape of the continent. It is these, the warlords and corrupt, we hold accountable for the shameful spectacles. Quite rightly so, but the architects are safely esconced in the financial capitals and great cities of the West, bloating from the gold and diamonds and the riches gotten by supplying those African traitors with the tools of their trade-the guns.

For us, African liberation must focus on the continuing causes of Africas underdevelopment and must make the connection with our own problems. It is not by accident that most of Africa, like the Caribbean is today grappling with negotiations for so-called Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union. No accident these! African liberation then, like Caribbean liberation, is not a mere ritual, a recital of our blackness. In today’s world it would be empty unless we hone in on those instruments which impede our progress as a sovereign people. Take some time today to find out what are these EPA’s, how do they relate to our advancement or impede our progress and regenerate those links with our brothers and sisters on the side of the Atlantic in similar circumstances.

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