By Lesroy W. Williams Observer Reporter
lesroywilliams@thestkittsnevisobserver.com ” (Basseterre, St. Kitts) ” Those who were sent from Africa in past centuries and those who remain need to build stronger bonds, according to an expert in the field. Dr. Gosnell Yorke, Professor of Religion at North Caribbean University in Mandeville, Jamaica, has issued a call for better relations between Africa and the African Diaspora which according to him can only be realized through meaningful dialogue. Dr. Yorke was the featured lecturer at two public forums held in St. Kitts to commemorate Emancipation Day which is celebrated on August 4.” The first lecture held at the Molineux Primary School on August 6 was entitled “Advancing National Development through Diasporic Engagement and Local Involvement” and the second lecture held at the Basseterre High School Auditorium was under the theme “Mother Africa and the Caribbean: The Case for Learning, Sharing and Engaging.” The Emancipation lectures are part of a series sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to raise the consciousness and knowledge of the local community about Africa and its contribution to world development especially because there has been an information void and a negative portrayal of Africa as a continent trapped in a vortex of conflict, anarchy, disease and underdevelopment.” Dr. Yorke said that the relation between Africa and the Diaspora should be a ‘two-way traffic”. “The truth is, emancipation, which we seek to commemorate each year, makes no sense other than against the backdrop of that historical interaction; one in which Mother Africa was both robbed and raped of its screaming sons and daughters; of those millions of our ancestors who were stolen and brutally removed from the continent against their collective wills,” Dr. Yorke said. “Our unwilling ancestors were then shipped across, and dumped onto (those who made it, that is), sugar and other plantations and, therein, forced to toil (and in many cases even die) as slaves; serving as hewers of wood and drawers of water; and in the process, constituting the backbone of, and laying the firm foundation for, what has now emerged, in our time, at least, as an economically formidable Europe. In the immortal words of one of our illustrious Caribbean sons, Walter Rodney, I am referring to, in the title of his classic, how Europe underdeveloped Africa or, putting my own spin on that history, it has much to with how Africa and the Caribbean have succeeded in overdeveloped Europe,” he continued. In quoting Professor Barry Chevannes, Professor Emeritus of Social Anthropology at the U.W.I., in the foreword of the book, “Overstanding Rastafari: Jamaica’s Gift to the World” written by Yasus Afari, Professor Yorke said that “‘the diabolic trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the slave plantation systems institutionalized in the African Diaspora and in Africa, constituted the African holocaust which is undoubtedly an unprecedented crime against humanity. In fact (he tells us), over one hundred million (100,000,000) Africans died during, or as a direct result of the””” hellish torment and misery of the journey/middle passage across the Atlantic, in addition to those who died, and continue to die as a result of European colonialism and neo-colonialism”. Professor Yorke said that people of the Diaspora must once again find their roots in an African continent that “will one day emerge once again as an intellectual and technological to be reckoned with”. “And let us not forget all those university students and professionals now in the “newer African Diaspora” as well”again, some of whom might well be among us this evening. They should be encouraged by their governments and policies to return home – permanently or periodically – with their knowledge, their skills and their pan-African connections established abroad encompassing both those of us in the “Older African Diaspora” and those in the “New” so as to contribute meaningfully to the noble and much-needed African renaissance”borrowing the language first coined by Mr. Mandela,” Professor Yorke said. Professor York emphasized that he would like to see the introduction into the curriculum of Caribbean Universities and Schools one or the other of African languages because “languages are windows to a whole philosophy of life and belief system; they are a peep into a whole worldview and lifestyle of a people; a way of “looking at the world” through the eyes and ears of others.” Dr. Yorke said that no matter how far Africans of the Diaspora run, they cannot get away from the hard truth that their identity is inextricably bound up with Mother Africa. “No matter how much some of us might wish to distance ourselves from the continent in terms of our identity, that the destiny of Mother” Africa and those of us in the “Older African Diaspora” are inextricably linked; that, as a people of African descent here in the Diaspora, we will never ever be taken as seriously in the world or respected as we should”no matter how long and how hard we agitate for meaningful change to our personal or collective afro-existential condition in America, Australasia, Canada, here” the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe or wherever, unless and until the contemporary image of Mother Africa is greatly re-furbished; unless and until her” perception is substantially enhanced in the world at large since, ultimately (and to reiterate), I am fully and firmly convinced that we are all “in the same boat,” Dr. Yorke said in closing.