The African Diaspora: We are family – The Voice Online

Posted By on September 6, 2022

The Voice: You recently called for stronger relations with Ghana; do you see trade and diplomatic links building between Barbados indeed the whole Caribbean region and African nations?

Mia Amor Mottley: Yes, I am very pleased to see the growth and the strengthening of trade and diplomatic links between the Caribbean region and the African continent. This is a matter we have discussed both within CARICOM and with African leaders. Most of us I believe feel very passionately about this. In fact, we have reaffirmed our commitment to Work together purposefully during the first CARICOM-Africa Summit held in September 2021.

Barbados commitment was seen in October 2020 when Barbados opened its diplomatic embassy in Accra, Ghana, and in June of this year, we also formally opened the joint CARICOM diplomatic mission in Nairobi, Kenya in June this year.

Of import, this year next week in fact Barbados will also host the first-ever Africa-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF), which will take place in Bridgetown, Barbados, from August 31 to September 3, 2022. Under the theme One People, One Destiny: Uniting and Reimagining Our Future, the Forum aims to foster the development of strategic partnerships between the business communities in Africa and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region, to bolster bilateral cooperation and increase engagement in trade, investment, technology transfer, innovation, tourism, culture, and other sectors.

The future of the CARICOM-Africa relationship looks bright, and I have no doubt we will continue to see it blossom in the years to come.

As I said at the inaugural CARICOM-Africa summit we must work to eliminate the middle leg, the middle man and the scars of the Middle Passage. We can do it together.

The Voice: What is it about this moment that is driving this move at this time? Is it Pan-Africanism in practice? And has going fully independent given Barbados a new lease of life on the world stage?

Mia Amor Mottley: What we are seeing and experiencing today is the process of healing. It isnt possible to fully understand or appreciate this moment as you put it, without first acknowledging the history that led us here. The uncomfortable truth is that for many centuries the world focused its gaze on Africa and people of African descent for the purpose of profiteering and exploitation from slavery and colonialism.

We have seen the impact and the lingering effects of this action. At the core of Pan-Africanism is the understanding that racism, imperialism and colonialism, were derived through forcing divisions, and therefore the remedy to that, must be firmly rooted in the product of our solidarity, our togetherness. That is an important component of how we heal and that is what you are seeing in motion.

Barbados has been a fully independent and sovereign state since November 30, 1966. We recognise now, just as we did then, that independence and national development is a continued process. I believe that it is the duty of each generation of Barbadians to ensure our decisions and actions do not reproduce the inequities of our complex history but forges a new destiny where we see, hear and feel each other in a way that lifts us all up.

Barbados transition to a Parliamentary Republic on November 30th, 2021 was an important milestone in our historical timeline, signaling our renewed commitment to nation building and national transformation in this 21st century and beyond.

Barbados decisive step to elect a Barbadian to the office of Head of State, in one fell swoop, removed the historical limitations that symbolism and representation had previously placed on the dreams and aspirations of our younger generations, paving the way for every child of Barbados to aspire to the highest office of State and to know that they are equal to any task or position. It is the liberation of the aspirations of our people.

The Voice: Moves to deepen relationship and trade building between African and Caribbean coincide with a move to become fully independent of Britain as Barbados has done and other countries like Jamaica are seriously considering. Is that just a coincidence or are they related in some way?

Mia Amor Mottley: An honest look at world history would make it very difficult to deny the historical role global powers like Britain played in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and colonialism, and the corresponding impacts of underdevelopment and inequality many countries are now currently challenged with in the 21st century. We must both work together in the conversation on reparations and on the scars of the slave trade which is likely to galvanize with the bold statement of HRH Prince Charles in his speech to the last Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Rwanda when he acknowledged that this is a conversation whose time has come.

But it would be a mistake to place Britain at the centre of either the narrative surrounding Africa and the Caribbeans efforts to deepen our ties. These are steps being taken by each country on the basis of our interests and on our own behalf within the context of identity, national development and transformation and multilateralism in the 21st century. Simply put, we are family! Without stepping foot in Africa, our people talk the same way, love and eat the same food, have the same flair and rhythm. My friend, we are family.

The Voice: The road to becoming a Republic was something that captured the imagination of people of the African Diaspora across the world. Was that something you felt in Barbados, and did that make you more determined?

Mia Amor Mottley: It is important that we understand that Barbados transition to Republic status was about us as a country looking inward and setting a path that roots our people and liberates fully their aspirations. It really was not inspired by any external forces. However, we appreciate that it has sparked a sense of pride and captured the imagination of people across the world. I spoke earlier of the power of symbolism and representation. This is especially true for people of African descent. If this has been another benefit to our decision, we give thanks.

The Voice: How do you feel now that other countries like Jamaica are making moves to follow Barbados?

Mia Amor Mottley: I have no doubt that respective Governments and their people will take whatever action they determine to be in their best interests as it relates to matters of national identity, development and transformation. We applaud the efforts of our brothers and sisters throughout the Caribbean and around the world who are doing the nation building work that ultimately makes them stronger nations and better global partners. Like with the discussion on slavery and reparations, I believe this time has truly come.

The Voice: You expressed a wish to leave the colonial past behind has that now been achieved, or what more needs to be done to make that a reality?

Mia Amor Mottley: Attempts to reverse centuries of systemic oppression and exploitation is not the burden of Africans and people of African descent to bear alone. The current global order simply does not serve the interests of achieving the goal of sustainable development for the majority of the worlds population, and frankly, many of the crises we are faced with today are derived from unresolved and reproduced inequalities of the colonial era as I referred to earlier. Similarly, while we may have removed. The laws that reinforce discrimination. We still have to win the Battle of Mental Emancipation of our people. The new battleships. In the music and movies and the games. That reinforces messages that do not place us as Caribbean people and Africans at the centre of development, power or the creation of wealth. Remember the words of Frederick Douglass Power concedes nothing.

So no, our work is not done. It is a work in progress. It will take time.

I feel strongly that as global leaders we have an obligation to deconstruct the architecture of this failing global orde We must reconstruct it in line with the universal values we claim to hold dearly and in accordance with the needs of our 21st century and beyond. Yes a crucial step in addressing matters of global inequality will be reparatory justice for Africans and people of African descent.

Leaders and institutions must take steps to address the absence of a development compact for many of our nations which simply did not exist when we became independent nations. Let us summon the courage and heal the world. Let us seize the moment and reform the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions so that they mirror those universal values that they otherwise promote. In so doing, let them respond to our very real vulnerabilities and stop blocking progress because they defend an old order that seeks to preserve the inequitable status quo. We need to recognize that one size rules are blind to the needs of our countries and our people. They lead to disproportionate actions and regrettably even more disproportionate consequences.

In short, we need to see significant restructuring of the major international institutions, a re-engineering of the terms of international trade, re-definition of the inequitable rules of international finance, and long overdue action on reparatory justice and compensation arrangements to address the lingering inequalities left in the wake of centuries of exploitation of the African peoples.

The Voice: Are you hopeful that other nations with the Queen still as head of state will follow suit and become a republic?

Mia Amor Mottley: That is not for us to say. Those are the decisions to be taken by a sovereign people in their own national interests, just as we did.

The Voice: How are your relations with the Royal family?

Mia Amor Mottley: Excellent. And we will continue to work closely on the matters that we feel passionately about protecting our environment and our biological diversity, creating opportunities for our young people. And I hope we will work together on having the conversation so that the necessary healing may truly start and be completed.

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The African Diaspora: We are family - The Voice Online

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