The Inaugural Pan African Colloquium got underway on the 13th January 2016. The theme of this event was "Heroines and Heroes of the back to Africa movements, Pan Africanism, African Nationalism, Global Africanism". Their philosophies, activities and legacies.
After a bit of a late start the conference commenced with presentations from Ms. Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf who spoke on "Abdel Khaliq Mahgoub", Prof. Vuyisile Msila who spoke on "The relevance of Biko in South Africa today: Black consciousness and the quest for African values" and Mr. Avery Pilgrim shared with us “MUGABE: Monster or Martyr?".
Throughout the conference a number of sentiments would repeatedly rear their heads. One such sentient was that the top down approach used by early Pan Africanist was not effective in our present reality and that, what was needed was a bottom up approach. It was said that a Pan African policy of inclusion should be adapted that strongly included the voices of the masses. Another sentiment that rang clear was that the use of the term diaspora was not appreciated by many as a description of Africans residing outside of the continent. It has been suggested that the terms Global Africans or Non Resident Africans should be considered as the new way in which sons and daughters of Africa who are descendants of those carried away in the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade should be refereed to.
Another salient area of concern raised was the lack of recognition paid to our women who have given just as much as their counterparts in the quest for our liberation. It was noted and highlighted the our sisters could not find themselves or rather were finding it difficult to find themselves in our liberation stories. To add insult to injury the clear omission of our Queens in certain areas of the colloquium served to reinforce the need for this situation to be seriously addressed.
The VC of UWI Sir Hilary Beckles in his address to the gathering shared with us his feeling of betrayal by African governments in what he called their non support of the Caribbean's calls and agitations for reparations. He stated that some of the concerns of these governments should they strengthen the reparation call included, reprisals from Europe who most of them are heavily dependent on in one way or another. It was also felt by some of these governments that the claims by Europe that Africans had sold their own in the Slave Trade, would result in the call for reparations eventually resting at their door steps. Sir Hilary went on to explain why African Governments should not be concerned with such erroneous claims. He spoke on the compromises that were made my tribal chiefs to secure the safety of their people due to the military might on the part of the oppressors as the main reasons for their involvement of Africans in the trade.
For three days we heard of the contributions by our sisters and brothers to our liberation struggle and what impact these actions have had on us in our present realities. Suggestions of practical actions of self repair were put on the table by Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines the Hon Ralph Gonsalves. He suggested that one thing we as Caribbean territories should look at was the removal of visas and easier more cost effect inter Caribbean travel and trade. Alternative energy production controlled by ourselves was also key to his idea of reparations. He urged those present not to be overly concerned with the voices of the detractors and naysayers as we went about our various tasks of liberation initiatives.
Prof Horace Campbell gave the closing plenary and said the Pan African movement was tasked with making itself relevant and effective in the 21st Century as it faced the coming advent of Singularity. He describes Singularity as the infusion of human life with that of artificial life. He stated that we would soon be tasked with having to define what was human. It was also noted that our education had to be remodeled to include our own sciences and arts as crucial areas in our development. Should we continue to take our lead from definitions based on western constructs of science, we could never truly develop or empower ourselves was unanimously agreed upon by those in attendance.
In closing the Ambassador to Cuba spoke in some length on the present sovereign attitudes that Cuda retains as it engages in talks with the USA. Although compromises had to be made in the development of relations between these two territories Cuba is unwilling to bend to the extent that they can no longer stand straight. I personally thought that as we deliberated many things, that this was a very fitting note to close the conference on.
The colloquium ran for three days and in this article we will share some of what transpired there through various video recordings and images
Our first recording is of the opening panel discussion entitled, "Vanguards of African Liberation". This session was chaired by Dr. Rodney Worrell.
Our second recording comes from the panel discussion entitled "Female Black Radical Tradition "
Our third recording is taken from panel 7 and this particular presentation is entitled Abdias do Nascimento, Quilombismo, and the Black Consciousness Movement in Brazil today—Dr. Dawn Duke
Our forth recording is taken from panel 7 and this particular presentation is entitled "Blackness/Africanness as Religion: A Philosophical Approach to Rastafari and Repatriation—Prof. Maboula Soumahoro
Our fourth recording is also taken from panel 7 entitled " Rastafari: Still a ‘Back to Africa’ movement? "-Ms. Lianne Mulder
We will be publishing more footage from this colloquium as it comes to hand.
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