Africa is now free of direct colonial domination, but the cause of African Liberation continues, having changed from one of fighting for independence to one for stopping wars, healing wounds and uniting to consolidate its political liberation in ways that will eventually yield the levels of economic liberation that continue to elude the continent more than five decades after gaining political independence.
‘African Unity’ and ‘Caribbean Unity’, are decades-old and overly-used clichés, but rarely ever mentioned is ‘African and Caribbean Unity’, despite it having always been and remaining an essential requirement for any re-creation of the long-standing connections mis-created by European historians between African and Caribbean states.
Historically, Caribbean citizens of African descent played important roles inspiring aspects of Africa’s political liberation: from Haiti’s Toussaint L’Ouverture to Jamaica’s Marcus Garvey, from Saint Lucia’s Arthur Lewis to Guyana’s Walter Rodney; and after Africa’s early independence, Caribbean citizens also helped build the legal and constitutional structures of some of the first new nations: Saint Lucia’s Darnley Alexander became a chief justice in Nigeria and Dominica’s Telford Georges became a chief justice in Tanzania.
Writer and philosopher Frantz Fanon and liberationist poet Aime Cesaire, both from the French Caribbean island of Martinique, were celebrated writers across Africa among those struggling for national liberation for the ways they used their own small island colonial experiences to both embrace and encourage the African independence struggles.
Jamaican lawyer Dudley Thompson successfully defended Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta at his famous trial in the 1960s; Fidel Castro, with permission from Prime Minister Forbes Burnham, sent hundreds of thousands of Cubans through Guyana in the 1970s to defend independent Angola and Mozambique against mercenary troops backed by Apartheid South Africa.
Guyana also supported liberated African states and hosted a non-Aligned Movement Summit (also in the early 1970s) and upheld a Commonwealth Sports Boycott of South Africa by penalizing popular Guyanese and West Indies cricketers who violated it; and Guyana also joined Grenada and Jamaica in the Non-Aligned Movement (in the early 1980s) to always oppose Apartheid in South Africa, demand the liberation of Nelson Mandela, support recognition of the African National Congress (ANC) and call for free and fair elections on the principle of ‘One Man, One Vote!’
Mozambique’s Samora Machel and South Africa’s Nelson Mandela visited the Caribbean during and after the Grenada Revolution (1979-83), respectively, with later visits to Guyana by Zambia’s Frederick Chiluba (in the mid-1990s) and the more recent visits by Ghana’s and Kenya’s presidents to Barbados and Jamaica in 2019.
But nowhere in all of this have African and Caribbean leaders ever arranged the sort of bilateral mechanisms for multilateral pursuit of the centuries of ties that have bound Africa and the Caribbean since Slavery. Africa’s leaders together meet with Europe, China and Japan regularly, but never together with their Caribbean counterparts.
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